With All Blues, Peter Frampton honors classics amid his own loss | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

With All Blues, Peter Frampton honors classics amid his own loss 

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click to enlarge Peter Frampton

Peter Frampton

Austin Lord

Peter Frampton’s got a right to sing the blues. The versatile guitarist recently revealed he has a degenerative muscle disorder called inclusion body myositis, which means his fingers might eventually stop letting him play his treasured instruments, including his iconic Les Paul. The diagnosis is a cruel blow for Frampton, who while still a teenager played in several 60s British rock bands, joining the Herd and cofounding Humble Pie, and then launched his solo career in 1971; at age 69, he’s still writing music and touring. Despite his decades in the business, Frampton is arguably best known for the 1976 live double album Frampton Comes Alive! (A&M), which remains one of the best-selling concert albums in rock history, documenting his melody-driven songs and guitar chops as well as the vibe at his shows—he keeps up a playful back-and-forth with his audience, whose energy explodes when he uses his signature talk box. Since his diagnosis, Frampton has been recording furiously in his Nashville studio, and the products of that labor include the material on last month’s All Blues (UMe), an album of covers such as B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia on My Mind.” The album, which debuted at number one on the Billboard Blues Chart, isn’t Frampton’s first foray into the genre; not only did he play bluesy tunes with Humble Pie back in the day, but he’s also jammed with King and other blues legends. The tunes on All Blues let Frampton’s virtuoso guitar work sing. He brings in Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds to play harmonica on the album’s first track, the Willie Dixon classic “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” and performs a version that’s more reminiscent of Muddy Waters’s original than Foghat’s hit hard-rock version. For “The Thrill Is Gone,” slide guitarist Sonny Landreth accompanies Frampton and his band, and the nearly six-minute track paints a picture of heartbreak that a lesser guitarist couldn’t pull off. Frampton kicked off his farewell tour last month, and one dollar from each ticket purchase will benefit the Peter Frampton Myositis Research Fund. During these emotional, career-spanning shows, Frampton will play cuts from All Blues, work his legendary talk box, and throw in some covers of the Beatles and Soundgarden.   v

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