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Rock - Released January 1, 1976 | A&M

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Rock - Released January 1, 1976 | A&M

At the time of its release, Frampton Comes Alive! was an anomaly, a multi-million-selling (mid-priced) double LP by an artist who had previously never burned up the charts with his long-players in any spectacular way. The biggest-selling live album of all time, it made Peter Frampton a household word and generated a monster hit single in "Show Me the Way." And the reason why is easy to hear: the Herd/Humble Pie graduate packed one hell of a punch on-stage -- where he was obviously the most comfortable -- and, in fact, the live versions of "Show Me the Way," "Do You Feel Like I Do," "Something's Happening," "Shine On," and other album rock staples are much more inspired, confident, and hard-hitting than the studio versions. [The 1999 reissue in A&M's "Remastered Classics" (31454-0930-2) series is a considerable improvement over the original double CD or double LP in terms of sound -- the highs are significantly more lustrous, the guitars crunch and soar, and the bottom end really thunders, and so you get a genuine sense of the power of Frampton's live set, at least the heavier parts of his set, rather than the compressed and flat sonic profile of the old double-disc version. Frampton and the band sound significantly closer as well, even on the softer songs such as "Wind of Change," and the disc is impressive listening even a quarter century later. Of course, one must take this all with a grain of salt as a concert document -- as was later revealed, there was considerable studio doctoring of the raw live tapes, a phenomenon that set the stage for such unofficial hybrid works as Bruce Springsteen's Live/1975-85 and countless others.] © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 6, 1976 | A&M

At the time of its release, Frampton Comes Alive! was an anomaly, a multi-million-selling (mid-priced) double LP by an artist who had previously never burned up the charts with his long-players in any spectacular way. The biggest-selling live album of all time, it made Peter Frampton a household word and generated a monster hit single in "Show Me the Way." And the reason why is easy to hear: the Herd/Humble Pie graduate packed one hell of a punch on-stage -- where he was obviously the most comfortable -- and, in fact, the live versions of "Show Me the Way," "Do You Feel Like I Do," "Something's Happening," "Shine On," and other album rock staples are much more inspired, confident, and hard-hitting than the studio versions. [The 1999 reissue in A&M's "Remastered Classics" (31454-0930-2) series is a considerable improvement over the original double CD or double LP in terms of sound -- the highs are significantly more lustrous, the guitars crunch and soar, and the bottom end really thunders, and so you get a genuine sense of the power of Frampton's live set, at least the heavier parts of his set, rather than the compressed and flat sonic profile of the old double-disc version. Frampton and the band sound significantly closer as well, even on the softer songs such as "Wind of Change," and the disc is impressive listening even a quarter century later. Of course, one must take this all with a grain of salt as a concert document -- as was later revealed, there was considerable studio doctoring of the raw live tapes, a phenomenon that set the stage for such unofficial hybrid works as Bruce Springsteen's Live/1975-85 and countless others.] © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1975 | A&M

Peter Frampton exited Humble Pie because that group fell into a loud, hard rock groove that overwhelmed the technical skills he'd spent years working on as a guitarist; he poured a lot of that into this highly melodic mid-tempo rock album. In the days before it saturated the airwaves in the version from Frampton Comes Alive, "Show Me the Way" was just a nice, very pleasant love song that benefited from a mix of acoustic and electric guitar textures spun out over a great beat and some excruciatingly memorable hooks, vocal and instrumental. It was surrounded by a lot more like it, including "Baby, I Love Your Way" in its original studio form, "The Crying Clown," "Nowhere's Too Far (For My Baby)," and most of the rest, although apart from the two hits, the playing and singing is often better than the songs themselves. This prevents the Frampton album from being a true classic, but it is one of the better albums from its all-too-mellow era. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 1, 1973 | A&M

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Named after Frampton's touring band at the time, Frampton's Camel has a harder-rocking feel than its predecessor Wind of Change, with Mick Gallagher's percussive electric piano and organ taking a prominent position in the mix and Frampton getting a harder sound from his electric guitars (though his acoustic playing is so lush and lyrical that it dominates the album here and there in its quiet way). The sound on this recording lays out the formula that Frampton would take to mega-success three years later with the release of Frampton Comes Alive. The songs are all first-rate or close to it -- included here is the original studio version of the group composition "Do You Feel Like We Do," a quicker-tempo, extended (albeit less majestic) version of which appeared on the latter album and became a staple of classic-rock radio, but the Frampton-composed "I Got My Eyes on You" and "Don't Fade Away" and the Frampton-Gallagher "All Night Long" are also compelling examples of '70s hard rock at its commercial best. This album also includes a nice cover of Stevie Wonder's "I Believe (When I Fall in Love With You It Will Be Forever)," the power ballad "Lines on My Face," the rollicking "White Sugar," and Frampton's gorgeously lyrical, all acoustic "Just the Time of the Year." As on Wind of Change, Frampton's use of dynamics and mix of acoustic and electric guitars keeps the music from becoming one-dimensional. The October 2000 CD reissue, remastered in state-of-the-art sound, adds an even more expansive feel to this album and enhances its melodic richness. © Jim Newsom & Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1972 | A&M

Peter Frampton's solo debut after leaving Humble Pie (as they stood on the brink of stardom) spotlights Frampton's well-crafted, though lyrically lightweight, songwriting and his fine guitar playing. The songs on Wind of Change are built primarily around acoustic guitar foundations, but "It's a Plain Shame" and "All I Want to Be (Is by Your Side)" sound like they could have been lifted off Humble Pie's Rock On. The sound is crisp, the melodies catchy, and Frampton's distinctive, elliptical Gibson Les Paul guitar leads soar throughout. A comparison between this album and Humble Pie's post-Frampton turn to generic boogie-rock shows why Frampton left that group. Although Humble Pie's Smokin' was much more successful, hitting the Top Ten in the spring of 1972, Wind of Change was far superior musically. With its mix of ballads and upbeat numbers with just enough of a rock edge, Wind of Change showed Frampton at his creative peak. The band here includes Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, and Klaus Voorman. © Jim Newsom /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1996 | A&M

By compiling all of Peter Frampton's biggest hits -- in their hit versions, so "Show Me the Way" and "Baby, I Love Your Way" are from Frampton Comes Alive, not the studio albums -- onto one disc, Greatest Hits functions as the definitive retrospective on the guitarist. It has a better selection than the single-disc Classics, Vol. 12, and it is more concise and listenable than the double-disc box Shine On: A Collection, which means it's the only collection that provides an effective, manageable overview of Frampton. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1973 | A&M

Named after Frampton's touring band at the time, Frampton's Camel has a harder-rocking feel than its predecessor Wind of Change, with Mick Gallagher's percussive electric piano and organ taking a prominent position in the mix and Frampton getting a harder sound from his electric guitars (though his acoustic playing is so lush and lyrical that it dominates the album here and there in its quiet way). The sound on this recording lays out the formula that Frampton would take to mega-success three years later with the release of Frampton Comes Alive. The songs are all first-rate or close to it -- included here is the original studio version of the group composition "Do You Feel Like We Do," a quicker-tempo, extended (albeit less majestic) version of which appeared on the latter album and became a staple of classic-rock radio, but the Frampton-composed "I Got My Eyes on You" and "Don't Fade Away" and the Frampton-Gallagher "All Night Long" are also compelling examples of '70s hard rock at its commercial best. This album also includes a nice cover of Stevie Wonder's "I Believe (When I Fall in Love With You It Will Be Forever)," the power ballad "Lines on My Face," the rollicking "White Sugar," and Frampton's gorgeously lyrical, all acoustic "Just the Time of the Year." As on Wind of Change, Frampton's use of dynamics and mix of acoustic and electric guitars keeps the music from becoming one-dimensional. The October 2000 CD reissue, remastered in state-of-the-art sound, adds an even more expansive feel to this album and enhances its melodic richness. © Jim Newsom & Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1977 | A&M

It was almost inevitable that I'm in You would be thought of as a letdown no matter now good it was. Following up to one of the biggest selling albums of the decade, Peter Frampton faced a virtually impossible task, made even more difficult by the fact that in the two years since he'd cut any new material, he had evolved musically away from some of the sounds on Frampton Comes Alive. The result was mostly a surprisingly laid-back album steeped in lyricism and craftsmanship, particularly in its use of multiple overdubs even on the harder rocking numbers. From the opening bars of "I'm in You," dominated by the sound of the piano (played by Frampton) and an ARP synthesizer-generated string section, rather than a guitar, it was clear that Frampton was exploring new sides of his music. Cuts like "Won't You Be My Friend," a piece of white funk that might've been better at six minutes running time, seemed to be dangerously close to self-indulgence at eight minutes long. The high points also include the title track, "Don't Have to Worry," and a killer cover of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed Delivered (I'm Yours)"; a couple of solid rock numbers, "Tried to Love" and the crunching "(I'm A) Roadrunner" also work their way in here to pump up the tension and excitement. I'm in You was successful on its own terms, and had Frampton recorded it before the live album, it would probably be very fondly looked back on. As it was, many listeners were not impressed. The spring 2000 reissue in 20-bit audio recreates the original album artwork and notes and is the best way to appreciate the multi-layered sound (and the crunchier rock moments) on this album. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2001 | A&M

Most Peter Frampton collections concentrate simply on his solo career. A&M's 2001 retrospective, Anthology: The History of Peter Frampton, takes a broader view, containing a cut from his first band, the Herd, and five songs from Humble Pie, plus all the solo heavy-hitters from the '70s -- and all in the space of a 16-track single-disc collection. This is a nice tactic, especially since it downplays his famous Frampton Comes Alive (there's only one song from Frampton Comes Alive -- "Show Me the Way." The other big hit from the record, "Baby I Love Your Way," is present in the studio version), thereby offering an introduction not just for the utter neophyte, but for those who only know that blockbuster. Some may argue that all the Humble Pie material takes up space that could have been dedicated to solo cuts, especially since this ignores anything recorded past 1979, but the end result winds up being the lone, concise summation of Frampton's strengths as both a solo artist and guitarist. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2003 | A&M

Unlike a great many of the entries in the 20th Century Masters series, there actually was a need for a good budget-priced Peter Frampton collection. Sadly, the disc's producers fumbled the ball by including the inferior album version of one of Frampton's biggest hits, "Baby, I Love Your Way," in lieu of the much better live version from the landmark Frampton Comes Alive! record. They did manage to include the live versions of "Show Me the Way" and "Do You Feel Like We Do," but the fatal blow had already been administered. The disc is rounded out by Frampton's biggest hit, the cuddly "I'm in You" from 1977, five tracks from his '70s albums, including his pale cover of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)," and the title track from 1981's Breaking All the Rules. If they had included the better version of "Baby, I Love Your Way," this disc would have been quite easy to recommend to stingy Frampton fans, but as it is, you might as well spend the extra couple of dollars and move up to 1996's Greatest Hits on A&M. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1974 | A&M

Peter Frampton's third album in as many years is much weaker than its predecessors, beginning with the lyrics, which sound forced on most of the songs. The production also lacks the crispness of his earlier releases, or their clarity; where Wind of Change had an airy feel because of the prominence of acoustic guitars, and Frampton's Camel had a percussive electric piano drive, Somethin's Happening originally sounded more like mud, with a clutter of electric guitars attempting to make up for lack of originality. The October 2000 remastered CD edition does alleviate a multitude of the original's sonic sins, however: Neither "I Wanna Go to the Sun" nor "Magic Moon" are among Frampton's most inspired songs, but the soaring guitars that highlight both now sound like they're practically in your lap, and one can also appreciate the quieter, subtler, more lyrical sounds of "Waterfall" and "Sail Away" and the elegant piano contribution of Nicky Hopkins behind Frampton's acoustic and electric playing, respectively. At this point, Frampton was touring constantly, following manager Dee Anthony's belief that a reputation for exciting live performances would lead to increased record sales. This strategy ultimately proved successful two years later when Frampton Comes Alive was released, but it also undoubtedly contributed to the decreasing quality of Frampton's original material. © Jim Newsom & Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 3, 1975 | A&M

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Pop - Released May 28, 1977 | A&M

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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | A&M

Frampton's fall from grace has been scrutinized ad nauseam, but notice the abundant use of "I" on this record as opposed to "you" in his hottest songs: "Do You Feel Like We Do," "I'll Give You Money," and "I'm in You." Here, Frampton is focused on self-preservation, rather than just blasting audiences like the straight rocker he is. The decent title cut begs to be "Back on the road, where I should be." No doubt, as over the year preceding the album Frampton suffered a car accident and his celebrity star imploded. The most excellent opener, "I Can't Stand It No More," lets loose another cry for the simpler days (akin to Cheap Trick's "Stop This Game"); the single even rose to number 13 on Billboard's Top 40, the last time Frampton would see the charts. Otherwise this wax stumbles over some weird disco steps and drags in the talk box for an attempt at former glory. Frampton has always tried to escape the gilded cage of his looks, first through the dirty blooze of Humble Pie and then as a low-key average guy whose career unexpectedly hit the stratosphere. By Where I Should Be, the world wanted too much from Frampton, a rock guitarist trapped in a teenybopper body. © Doug Stone /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | A&M

Breaking All the Rules is a good, solid effort by Peter Frampton which would have been better had he decided to break a few rules. The problem here is that Frampton is treading water, in familiar territory, singing and playing within the confines of a well constructed safe record. There is a brilliant hook in "Going to L.A." which might have been a hit had co-producer David Kershenbaum given it a little of what he would inject into Tracy Chapman seven years after this. A strong vocal from Frampton as well as a strong performance, but a failure to do what his last three albums did: generate a Top 20 hit! Billy & Bobby Alessi's "Rise Up" is in the pocket, one of the album's highlights, though it tends to sound like John Cougar's 1979 chart climber "I Need a Lover," chock full of the sound from that record and a little out of place here. Vanda and Young's eternal "Friday on My Mind" is decent, certainly better than Alice Cooper guitarist Michael Bruce's version, but not typical of Peter Frampton's repertoire and almost unnecessary. The production on this Easybeats cover is noticeably thinner than the rest of the disc. Bostonian David Finnerty's "I Don't Wanna Let You Go" shows up here, but it doesn't have the snap of his 1975 hit, "Let's Live Together," and sounds as labored as the Joneses, that author's 1980s band on Atlantic. "Lost a Part of You" is a worthy album track sequel to "I'm in You," Frampton's biggest hit, but is more laid-back in performance. There are some clever riffs that help make "You Kill Me" and the title tune interesting. "Breaking All the Rules," in particular, has a Sabbath-inspired fuzz guitar line from the Rolling Stones' "Bitch." Where he does break the rules is that Procol Harum lyricist Keith Reid writes the words on this title number, despite some of Frampton's best lyrics appearing on his own compositions. Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro provide guitar and drums as part of a more than competent band on an equally competent recording. Making a good record was not what was required of Peter Frampton at this point in time, he had to come back with something spectacular. Breaking All the Rules is hampered by its creator's position in the rock hierarchy, but shouldn't be overlooked because of that. © Joe Viglione /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 15, 1992 | A&M

Shine On: A Collection is a double-disc, 30-song set featuring all of Peter Frampton's best-known songs and biggest hits, plus a couple of rarities and unreleased cuts for hardcore fans. While the collection is far too thorough for casual listeners, any fan who wants to dig deeper than Frampton Comes Alive! should start with Shine On, particularly since most of Frampton's individual older albums have been out of print for years. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo