Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive
1976 A&M Records
I promise, I haven’t been living under a rock. I knew of this record, I just didn’t care. I’d always assumed Peter Frampton was on the lighter side of the heaviness scale so for many years, that was enough for me to avoid him. But as a record collector, this one is easy to find for cheap. So when I started collecting I acquired one. 10 years later, I’m finally listening to it. This album was a strange phenomenon in the 70’s. Frampton left ‘Humble Pie’ just as they were breaking stateside to go solo. His first 4 solo records were relative commercial failures. But this record EXPLODED (much in the same way ‘Kiss Alive!’ was gigantic after 3 relative commercial failures preceding it). Normally live albums are either a cash grab or a contractual obligation. But this one, along with the aforementioned ‘Kiss Alive!’ set a precedent for every rock band in the 70’s to record a live album. Supposedly, this was the biggest selling live album in America for a long time, since being eclipsed by Eric Clapton’s Unplugged and Garth Brooks’ Double Live.
Now listening to this was not exactly a revelation. I did not feel like I robbed myself of an amazing album for all these years. It’s pretty good. Definitely a good bargain bin score. Frampton is a great guitar player, and there is great playing all over this record including his famous “talk box” effect. It lags in spots for me, but the highlights are great. “Show Me The Way”, “Baby I Love Your Way”, a great kind of funky cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” and the 14+ minute album closer, “Do You Feel Like I Do” are all excellent tracks. Will I personally revisit this record much? Probably not. It feels like one of those albums that was very much of it’s era, that was being cranked out of car windows everywhere in the summer of ’76. If you had that personal attachment, then you love it, but I don’t know how many new listeners it’s grabbing now. Still a decent listen.
Quick funny anecdote; there was a band called ‘Big Mountain’ in the early 90’s and they did a cover of “Baby I Love Your Way” that was a big hit. I honestly thought it was their song until recently. That’s how much I avoided this album until now.
In the review of Billie’s album I mentioned vibe a couple times. Sometimes the vibe on a record is just as important as the record itself and I think next time I’ll focus on 2 albums that are both very vibe oriented. Something that you could light a cigar…or light something….and just lose yourself in. Until next time