Thursday, June 16, 2011

The #55 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era: "Frampton Comes Alive" by Peter Frampton

We just saw where one of the exceptions to the rule (a Soundtrack album "A Hard Day's Night") by the Beatles was unveiled.  Here's the only exception to the "no live albums" rule.  The reason it was allowed was because it was the first time that the mass audience had ever heard of Peter Frampton or anything he did, other than being in Humble Pie (despite four previous solo albums).

Frampton Comes Alive became a blockbuster album, almost out of nowhere.  To wit, it debuted on the charts at 191, hardly an album of high expectations.  Frampton Comes Alive rose to #1 for 10 weeks, spent a sensational 13 weeks at #2 and an additional 5 weeks at #3. The album occupied a spot in the Top 10 album charts for 51 weeks and was on the album chart for 97 weeks.  Those are pretty incredible numbers.  It was the best-selling album of 1976 and has sold over 6 million copies.  It is still one of the top-selling live albums of the Rock Era and it is the top double album in the History of the Rock Era*

The album was recognized at the Juno Awards in 1977 for Best Selling International Album.  Frampton was nominated for four American Music Awards--Favorite Male Artist, Album of the Year, Favorite Pop Album and Favorite Pop Male Artist.

Three big hits, "Show Me the Way", "Baby, I Love Your Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do" led the way.  To listeners, it was obvious that the crowd that was witness to these landmark concerts was highly impressed and very enthusiastic. 

Winterland in San Francisco, California and the Long Island Arena in Commack, New York were the primary locations for the concerts.  A 24-track master recorder was used at Winterland.  Four different shows made up the original album.  Frampton's guitar playing was in top form as he wailed away on his Gibson Les Paul electric and his use of the talk box guitar effect on "Do You Feel Like We Do" is epic.

While the hits initially led listeners to the album, it's the quality that made it a sensation.  The album can be tracked all the way through from start to finish with every song sounding fantastic.  There are numerous cuts that everyone will like, but I will make special mention of "It's a Plain Shame", "All I Want to Be (Is by Your Side)", "Penny for Your Thoughts", "(I'll Give You) Money" and "Lines On My Face" in addition to the three hit singles.  They are superb.

A 25th Anniversary edition of the album was released in 2001 that includes four additional tracks.  The track sequence is markedly different to more accurately reflect the original set list. 

Frampton Comes Alive:
(All songs by Peter Frampton except where noted.)

Side one
1.  "Something's Happening" --5:41
2.  "Doobie Wah" (Frampton, John Headley-Down, Rick Wills) --5:28
3.  "Show Me the Way" --4:42
4.  "It's a Plain Shame" --4:21

Side two
1.  "All I Want to Be (Is by Your Side)" --3:27
2.  "Wind of Change" --2:47
3.  "Baby, I Love Your Way" --4:43
4.  "I Wanna' Go to the Sun --7:02

Side three
1.  "Penny for Your Thoughts" --1:23
2.  "(I'll Give You) Money" --5:39
3.  "Shine On" --3:35
4.  "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) --7:45

Side four
1.  "Lines on My Face" --7:06
2.  "Do You Feel Like We Do?" (Frampton, Mick Gallagher, John Siomos, Wills) --14:15

Frampton's band was sensational on the album.  Bob Mayo played guitars, piano, a Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hammond organ and contributed vocals, Stanley Sheldon was on bass and vocals and John Siomos played drums.

The album was recorded at Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California on June 13, 1975, the Winterland in San Francisco on June 14, the Long Island Arena in Commack on August 24 and the SUNY Plattsburgh in Plattsburgh, New York on November 22.   Frampton was also the producer of the album.  It was released January 6, 1976 in the United State and February 13, 1976 in the U.K.  I will say that the public's ranking of #55 here is far lower than it should be.

The monumental Frampton Comes Alive is next from Peter Frampton.

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