I could walk by Peter Frampton on the street and not recognize him. His long blond hair, which shines like a halo on his album Frampton Comes Alive! may be gone, but as soon as he sat behind the Tiny Desk and began singing, 1976 came rushing back. I worked in a record store the year Frampton Comes Alive! came out, and it was one of those records that seemed to have universal appeal. We sold a ton of copies of that double live album and I can still remember the label and number (A&M 3703) from having written it on countless sales tickets.
Forty years later, on the new album Acoustic Classics, Peter Frampton has taken those electric guitar songs, some linked forever to that unmistakable talk box effect, and stripped them down to their essence, just a few acoustic guitars and his voice. At the Tiny Desk, played by Peter and guitarist Gordon Kennedy, these songs still thrill. We had a lot of coworkers and friends come watch Frampton come alive again. It was electrifying to hear a room full of people spontaneously burst out singing on the chorus of "Baby, I Love Your Way" especially when many of those singing weren't alive when that song came out.
Songwriters could spend their lives hoping to write a song that connects for the ages, but Peter Frampton told the NPR crowd that two of his biggest hits came to him on a beach on the same day. The notion that one day the magic is there and the next it's gone could haunt a songwriter, but not Peter Frampton. On this day I saw one of the happiest musicians walk into our building, a man filled with joy, eager to share his tunes he's sung over and over for much of his adult life, with a fresh attitude. It was enchanting.
Acoustic Classics is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)
- "All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side)"
- "Lines On My Face"
- "Baby, I Love Your Way"
Producers: Bob Boilen, Niki Walker; Audio Engineers: Kevin Wait, Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Kara Frame; Production Assistant: Jackson Sinnenberg; Photo: Brandon Chew/NPR.
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