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Peter Frampton

℗ 2006 A & M Records B0007219 / Framptone Records

℗ 2006 Steamhammer Records SPV 085 97872

Peter Frampton  2006  Fingerprints

You might think it's easy for a songwriter with a high degree of prowess and a distinctive guitar sound to make an all-instrumental CD. But on Fingerprints, Peter Frampton who was a British teen sensation with the Herd, a hard rock hero with Humble Pie, and an international phenomenon with Frampton Comes Alive proves it's more difficult than it looks. This is a roots album for Frampton, as he pays homage to many of his heroes and gets a few of them to play on the disc. The classic Rolling Stones rhythm section of Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts lay down the blues-rock groove of "Cornerstones," while guitarist Hank Marvin and drummer Brian Bennett from the Shadows, England's version of the Ventures, get the reverb sustain going for a twin-guitar slow-blues track called "My Cup of Tea." Frampton also brings in some relative youngsters with jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine, who plays some R&B honks on "Boot It Up," and Pearl Jam's Mike McCready and Matt Cameron. They drop in for an overly faithful cover of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun," on which Frampton plays the vocal line with a fuzzed wah-wah guitar before singing the chorus through his TalkBox. Frampton has always been a sensitive guitarist, and you can hear that on tracks like "Float," where he orchestrates a delicate call-and-response with producer/guitarist Gordon Kennedy. But a lot of the album consists of riff-heavy grooves like "Blooze" that sound like polished jam sessions. It's probably not fair to draw comparisons with other axe-burners from the '60s, but Fingerprints is formulaic next to the electronica-infused wail of, say, Jeff Beck, on albums like Jeff. Where Frampton could have made a statement as a solo guitarist, he settled for genre exercises. It's a shame, because he sure can twang those strings. John Diliberto.