Classic Album – Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive! (CD review)

Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive (1976) – CD review –

One of the most bizarre success stories in rock: how did little known Peter Frampton become a household name with this mega-selling record?  A closer look to Frampton Comes Alive! reveals the answers. 

For one, Framp was easy on the eyes, making him an instant hit with the ladies.  But, he also could play the hell out of the guitar, making him a hit with the dudes as well.  But, Frampton had had zero success with his previous solo efforts.

What makes this all work is the excitement oozing from the grooves of this record; you truly feel like you’re part of the show.  His charisma is contagious and the songs all have a level of energy only hinted at in the studio versions.  Adding to the fervor is Frampton’s use of the “talk box,” a device that allows him to make his guitar “speak,” most apparent in the hits “Show Me the Way” and the stoner anthem “Do You Feel Like We Do.”  The other hit, “Baby I Love Your Way,” was a ballad for the ladies.

While most double-live efforts lose steam, the record’s clever pacing helps keep things interesting: there’s an acoustic set right in the middle of a couple of long jams.  He also throws in a raucous cover of the Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” for good measure.  A final note about the audience: Frampton was not yet a big star when these concerts were recorded, yet he must’ve had a cult following.  The crowd is worked up to a frenzy by the band’s performances, adding another element to the already great songs.  There was no way this crazy, runaway success could ever have been followed up.  Not surprisingly, he quickly faded back to cult status.  Still, Frampton Comes Alive continues to be the benchmark for electrifying live albums. –Tony Peters