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Plugged or unplugged, Peter Frampton remains ready tor ock

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Peter Frampton is spending the summer as he usually does, fronting his band and playing his decades-old favorites, spiced with plenty of guitar solos.

But this year's album release was a different matter altogether.

Back in February Frampton released "Acoustic Classics," a set of unplugged versions of many of his hits and some deep cuts from his catalog. It received plenty of attention -- including some raised eyebrows from those who know Frampton best as an electric guitar hero.

"People have been trying to get me to do it for years, and I just didn't want to try it and I know think it was just stubbornness or fear, or fear and then stubbornness because I was scared," Frampton, 66, explains by phone from his home in Nashville, where he now resides. "I've done a couple of acoustic numbers with the band in my shows, but that's not like this. This is a whole different thing."

Doing the songs acoustically, Frampton says, was, "a whole different kind of feel." It's like reverse-engineering (the songs) back to where they started in their most simplistic form, and it's a communication thing. I wanted it to be like, 'Hey, sit down. I've just written a song' and I sit down and play you "Lines on My Face" or whatever, and you were likely drawn in 'cause you're the only person in the room besides me.

"And that's how I looked at making the album, like a one-on-one thing."

And, he found, it wasn't as easy as he expected.

"When I started the CD I thought, 'Ha, ha, it's gonna take me a couple days' -- and, yes, I was wrong," Frampton says with a laugh. "Because I have such a high standard of my own output, I did two or three tracks and came into the control room and listened to them and was like, 'It's OK. It's good. It's fine. It's me doing the songs.

"But those songs are 50 years old, some of them, and they have morphed into something completely different. So instead of knocking off the tracks in a couple of days I spent a few months going in every day doing different performances of the songs until I found the ones that worked for me."

Frampton -- a school friend of the late David Bowie who's been playing in bands since the early 60s and co-founded Humble Pie before going solo in 1971 -- has been mixing acoustic tours with his electric shows. Another acoustic album is possible, he says, but Frampton's not about to unplug entirely, nor is he waving the white flag on making new music.

"People in the industry have said that the more senior artists like myself, no one wants to hear new music from them, so don't worry about it anymore. Don't write anymore," he says. "I get it. But that's not the reason you started doing it in the first place. So even though new music from me isn't going to leap up to the Top 50 stations or streams or whatever it doesn't matter to me because it's what I do every day. I get up and I practice, and while I'm in the middle of practicing I write something.

"I'm always creating, and whether people want to hear it or not, I'm gonna do it. And I'll put out en EP or an album's worth or dozens of songs or whatever, and I'm going to keep doing it because I enjoy it."

Peter Frampton and jack Broadbent

7 p.m. Thursday, July 28.

DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

Tickets are $29.95-$99.95 pavilion, $25 lawn with a $75 lawn four-pack.

Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.

Note: Lynyrd Skynyrd, originally scheduled to co-headline with Frampton, will not be performing due to health issues. Frampton will play an extended show. Those desiring refunds can get them at the point of purchase.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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