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Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive! (1976)

August 7, 2013

[Album 221/1001]220px-Frampton_Comes_Alive

Oh, I get by with a little help from Youtube.

Beginning with the evergreen Wayne’s World II:

The album was so ubiquitous, according to Wayne Campbell, everyone in the world has a copy.  It appears I grew up in the wrong suburb as:
– with the exception of a couple hits, this was mostly new to me
– regrettably, I was never issued this album with a sample of Tide!

Speaking of hits, the ballad Baby, I Love Your Way tends to generate two possible listener reactions:

Group A (apologies for poor video quality):
Flashbacks to the first dance at a wedding.  First kisses, first loves.  Fond memories forever attached.


Group B:
Peter f’n Frampton. Nails on the chalkboard.

I can see how Baby… has a polarizing ability on par with Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy.  Perhaps I haven’t been overexposed to it yet, so I don’t mind it, though I do prefer Lisa Bonet’s take in the great High Fidelity.

Other possible polarizing points from the double LP:
– The talkbox on Show Me The Way & Do You Feel Like We Do.  Again, my relative underexposure to the record doesn’t make me feel too strongly one way or the other.  But for every fan that has a fever and the only prescription is more talkbox, I’d imagine there’s another who’s heard more than enough!
– The Jumpin’ Jack Flash cover.  I wouldn’t say any bands are uncoverable, with the slight qualifier that if you’re going to cover The Beatles/Stones, do it right!  Frampton certainly didn’t go for the carbon copy approach.  I might not have even noticed it was Jumpin’ Jack Flash if I hadn’t been expecting it from the track-listing.
– The exclamation mark in the title.  Perhaps it’s the teacher in me, but I always smile when I see punctuation in a title, especially an exclamation mark.  Wham! remains among my favourite group names, how is the permanent enthusiasm sustainable?!
– The automatic sequencing.  On the original double vinyl, sides 1 & 4 were pressed on one record, 2 & 3 on the other.  The theory being, on an automatic record changer, it would be easier to have a continuous listening experience.  I didn’t listen on vinyl so I can’t comment on any convenience/inconvenience, but an interesting & potentially irritating/appealing idea.

The question is, are you group A, group B, or somewhere in between?

From → 1970s

  1. I’m probably somewhere in between! There’s some good stuff and some great playing on that album but I can’t say I listen to it much. I’m kind of like you too, I had never been overexposed to those songs either so that helped.

  2. Love your write-up on this once ubiquitous album. There was a point when it went from “live album of a semi well known performer” to an “uncontrollable force of nature,” and he wasn’t regarded seriously after that. I’ve never considered it an essential live album, but some of the versions are stronger than their studio counterparts. I’m not an expert in any way, only owning this, a couple of his studio albums and a very good 2-CD compilation, but you don’t have to be an expert to realize that Frampton Comes Alive has to be both a burden & a curse for him. I’ve never understood some of the hatred his songs have conjured from people, other than the possibility that they got sick of hearing him on the radio every 5 minutes. Being overplayed doesn’t make a good song bad, in my opinion, so I’m always happy to hear his music…although I will switch stations occasionally when “Baby I Love Your Way” comes on. I’ve always enjoyed that scene in High Fidelity (well, every scene, really) even though I didn’t completely agree with it.

    • Thanks Rich – it’s funny how some albums gain momentum like that, this one I’m not sure why it resonated with the public as much as it did.

      I heard (formerly of Beverly Hills 90210) Jason Priestly interviewed once where he said the 90210 association people always make, and will continue to make no matter what else he does in his career, will be simultaneously his biggest blessing & curse. I agree that this album has the same legacy for Mr. Frampton.

      I find that’s the nature of radio – if a song is gaining traction with audiences, the station (understandably) is going to play the heck out of it. Sort of like the all-you-can-eat wings promo at a restaurant, give the people lots of exactly what they want until they’re sick of it.

      I can’t say I feel as strongly as John Cusack’s character but I rarely find much disagreeable about High Fidelity in general, what a film!

  3. I’m so happy you posted that Wayne’s World scene! Between Wayne Campbell and Homer Simpson, Frampton will be Alive forever!

    • My thanks – I have a longstanding theory that everything eventually relates back to Wayne’s World. Frampton was thankfully a more direct relation as opposed to a six degrees of separation!

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