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Frampton comes unplugged: ‘Acoustic Classics’ breathes new energy into familiar songs

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REVIEW WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
bbingaman@21st-centurymedia.com
@brianbingaman on Twitter

Seventies rock star Peter Frampton is the stuff of folkloric legend.
Forever associated with the talkbox guitar effect and the multi-platinum success of the now-40-year-old “Frampton Comes Alive!,” he resurfaces in the darndest places — a Geico TV commercial, “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy,” a bizarro series of random “PFF” stencil graffiti that popped up around the Philly region, circa 2004 … and more recently, NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concerts.”
A Grammy Award-winner in 2007 for his instrumental album “Fingerprints,” Frampton is again out to grab your attention with his musicianship/guitar chops with the 11-track “Acoustic Classics.”

IF YOU GO
What: Peter Frampton and Lynyrd Skynyrd in concert.
When: 6:30 p.m. June 10.
Where: The Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave., Philadelphia.
Tickets: $39.50-$125.
Info.: Visit www,manncenter.org or call (800) 745-3000.

Don’t you dare dismiss the re-recordings of Frampton’s signature hits as a gimmick. There’s a refreshing and honest intimacy in the 66-year-old Frampton’s performance and strikingly crisp and deftly-precise acoustic guitarwork. On “Show Me the Way” the talkbox gets used in new ways besides the familiar parts on previous recordings. “Do You Feel Like I Do” is liberated from its past bloated excess without losing its rambling charm, and “I’m in You” is stripped down into a piano ballad.
Yes, “Baby, I Love Your Way” is on here too. What would’ve made “Acoustic Classics” really satisfying is Frampton’s late ‘70s hits, “I Can’t Stand It No More” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours) (Yup, the Stevie Wonder song).
Frampton also mines his back catalog to lovingly resurrect tracks like the folky instrumental “Penny for Your Thoughts,” “Wind of Change,” “All I Want to be (is by Your Side),” smartly shorter versions of “Lines on My Face” and “Sail Away” and more.
“Acoustic Classics” is not entirely remakes. The new song “All Down to Me” was co-written by Gordon Kennedy, the co-producer of “Fingerprints,” and has a melancholy loneliness to it.
“Living in a new world that I don’t know/asking time to please stand by … I’ve been hurt/I’ve been cursed, but I’m at peace,” Frampton sings.

Peter Frampton's latest album has a new song and all-acoustic re-workings of his '70s catalog.

Peter Frampton’s latest album has a new song and all-acoustic re-workings of his ’70s catalog.

The bad news is Frampton’s already done an acoustic tour. The good news is he’s bringing a full band to the Mann in a co-headlining show with Lynyrd Skynyrd, followed shortly after by a Frampton-only full band concert June 14 at the Sands Bethlehem Events Center.

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