Friday, April 19, 2013

Peter Frampton--Show Me The Way (1975/1976)

      "Frampton Comes Alive" was simultaneously one of the best albums of the late 70's, and also one of the most overplayed. I remember buying the album and at first loving it, but with it being played ALL the time on AM and FM radio (when they were not playing Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors"), it soon grew dust on my shelf. Although it made him into a superstar, it also pretty much summed up his career as the subsequent studio albums fell into the laid back vibe of the albums before "Comes Alive". That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but he has always been a superior performer on stage, and the his studio work never truly caught fire in the same way. On the other hand, most musicians would give a digit to have an album that sold as well.
     Peter Frampton had been a guitar wiz and singer from an early age and attracted attention as a member of The Herd as early as 1966 (at the age of 16). Three years later, he was asked by former Small Faces leader, Steve Marriott to start a new group, thus was born Humble Pie. His star in Britain continued to rise as did his popularity with other musicians as well. He was on several popular albums at the time, including George Harrison's, "All Things Must Pass" in 1970. It was during those sessions that he was introduced to the voice box, a guitar effect that would help form his signature sound.
     He left to go solo in 1971 and released his first album, "Winds of Change" in 1972. Over the next four years, he released four albums in which he began to refine his sound. All of these albums are suggested, if for no other reason than to hear the studio versions of the songs that he made famous in 1976. "Show Me the Way" was on his "Frampton" album released in 1975. Here is that version:

     One of the things that you notice in listening is that he has a very pleasurable, melodic voice, but it seemed to miss something....a "fire" if you will. This is interesting to note because at the same time, he was gaining a solid reputation for his live shows. This led A&M to take a huge risk by releasing a double live album. This from an artist who's star was rising, but was far from a solid commodity ("Frampton" had reached #35 on the album charts). The risk payed off in a huge way as it sold 6 million copies in 1976 alone. The single reached #6 on the Hot 100.


Post a Comment