Peter Frampton - 'Thank You Mr. Churchill'

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Peter Frampton - 'Thank You Mr. Churchill'

Probably Peter Frampton's strongest overall album since the AOR classic ‘Premonition’ back in 1986.

It’s much to my annoyance that most of the post ‘Frampton Comes Alive’ career of it’s creator has been virtually ignored in the UK, especially as Peter Frampton has a rich back catalogue of quality music. I think the problem has been that he’s refused to make an album that follows the same template throughout, opting instead to write in many different styles with his smooth, very English sounding vocals as the only common ingredient. In recent years his output has become more regular again with the last three records released at three year intervals, so following his Grammy winning instrumental album ‘Fingerprints’, ‘Thank You Mr. Churchill’ is a timely reminder of the guitar playing, singing and song-writing prowess of one of England’s most successful exports.

The first thing that hits you is the excellent production, Frampton working with Chris Kimsey (his producer for the first eight records of his solo career) for the first time in over thirty years. The warm analogue sound works well and adds to the humanity in Frampton’s semi-autobiographical lyrics on the slow burning title track and the cool country ballad ‘Vaudeville Nanna & The Banjolele’. He obviously still listens to new music as there’s a modern edge to the sharp and aggressive ‘Solution’ and the Soundgarden vibe of ‘Road To The Sun’, which features Peter’s son Julian on vocals and no less than Matt Cameron on drums. Other rocky tracks includes the more typical pop-rocker ‘I’m Due A You’ and the killer blues rockers ‘Asleep At The Wheel’ and ‘I Want It Back’, each graced with short but brilliantly executed guitar solos laced with Frampton’s trademark feel and melody.

It wouldn’t be a Peter Frampton album if at least a couple of tracks didn’t throw you a curve ball, so while the Jeff Beck influenced instrumental ‘Suite Liberte’ might not be such a surprise, the soul/R & B (remember when you could use that description in it’s original form?) of ‘Invisible Man’ is definitely a little out there and ‘Restraint’ has a few quirks that make it more than just acoustic-based pop. Other highlights are the tender ballad ‘Black Ice’, which is redolent of Peter’s 1977 hit ‘I’m In You’, and the latin flavoured closer ‘A Thousand Dreams’ occasionally erupts into a riff that could almost be from the Montrose/Sammy Hagar classic ‘Make It Last’.

‘Thank You Mr Churchill’ is probably Peter Frampton’s strongest overall album since the AOR classic ‘Premonition’ back in 1986, if you’ve ever liked the man’s music it’s well worth looking into. You won’t be disappointed.

Phil Ashcroft

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