Evidently I've raised the ire of rock legend Peter Frampton. My column this week, which praises his work with Humble Pie but is, admittedly, dismissive of his solo work, prompted a response from the guitar guy. It should be noted that, because of the opaque nature of email, I can't confirm that the following missive came from Mr. Frampton.
But I hope so.
Below is the text of his email, which was also sent to his management company, followed by the column that prompted his response.
Have you listened to my Grammy Award Winning, instrumental cd, "Fingerprints" ?
Popular music can be ruthless. It's not uncommon for an act to be lauded one day and unloaded on the next.
Too often an act with a style that becomes unpopular (I'm talking to you, prog-rock) or fans that perhaps are a little too fervent (hello, Deadheads) become the punch line for many a mean-spirited bon mot.
Sometimes, certainly, it's justified. I'll poke as much fun at the soft-rock seriousness of Air Supply as the next guy. Sometimes, however, it's not. A lot of great bands have been unfairly labeled as below par by the average music consumer without real justification. Here's my list of five acts that have, unfortunately, been easily dismissed and perhaps are worthy of a renaissance.
CYNDI LAUPER: Actually the motivation for this column, I recently saw the Wanna Have Fun girl performing on a morning television show, and she was so good that I didn't even recognize her. I thought I was hearing the most killer cover of She Bop ever, when in fact it was the legitimate article. Ms. Lauper has a stellar voice, a winning way with arrangements and a rep as a novelty act that is completely unjustified.
CAMEO: It's quite possible that this ferocious funk act was undone by the cod pieces. It's a risky fashion choice, which, in retrospect, the band might admit hasn't aged well. Performing and recording long before the big hit days of Word Up , Cameo has a great back catalog. It's a real shame that the band is best remembered for singer Larry Blackmon's distinctive "ow" and the aforementioned fashion failings.
HUMBLE PIE: Guitarist Peter Frampton is best known for his frankly suspect solo work, which is a shame, because this band, one of the original (and better) supergroups, was truly smokin'. In the years since the band's dissolution and singer Steve Marriott's tragic death in a house fire, the band's image has taken on some tarnish, often filed under "fogey" rock. Sad.
LYNYRD SKYNYRD: This seems to be one of those love 'em or hate 'em acts. Folks that dig the Skynyrd scene dig it a lot -- perhaps a little too much. Folks that don't, well, they often seem to have a hard time beyond the rebel flags flying and calls for Freebird . The truth is Skynyrd is a complicated, clever and extremely talented combo with a slew of classic rock radio favorites that are true classics.
CHEAP TRICK: It seems likely that I've waxed poetic in these pages about Cheap Trick in the past. The band is a personal favorite. But I know that this still-active quartet often gets lumped in with the "Camero Rock" movement, occupying similar popular culture territory as Journey, Foreigner and REO Speedwagon. It's an unfair comparison. A pop act that embraced both stadium rock and punk, Cheap Trick is the real deal.
So what are your picks? What bands out there get a bad rap that perhaps deserve a second look? E-mail me at email@example.com and I'll post a roundup with next week's column.
Last week I asked who should be on the coliseum board, should the current incarnation dissolve. The only responses I received were from one of the people I nominated for the role, who felt that without any real pull, the job would prove frustrating, and one vote for Marion Williams.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.