Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive album was released January 6, 1976.
One of the great parts of retro blogging is looking back further than my own childhood. This is an album that has been out my entire life. I’ve heard the singles probably hundreds of times on classic rock radio and the album cover appears as a punchline in shows and movies. Until this week, I had never actually or actively listened to the entire double album.
This is phenomenal.
There is a reason Frampton Comes Alive was huge 45 years ago and continues to loom large and iconic today. From the start, this has to be the biggest, fullest, truest live album I have ever heard in my life. Somehow I’m there live, years before my birth. I don’t understand the mixing, the Dolby, the technology – none of it. All I know is that every note came out of the speaker and wrapped around my body transporting me through time to the original performances.
Of course, there are the singles that we’ve all heard through either our own radios or our parents’ radios. “Show Me the Way”, “Baby, I Love Your Way”, “Do You Feel Like We Do”. All hits I was aware of, but they never meant anything to me. Up until this week I much preferred Lisa Bonet’s performance of “Baby” in High Fidelity.
Then there are the songs I have no recollection of that hit me through history and become fresh in 2020. “(I’ll Give You) Money” starts with a good drum beat, and then wow, the guitars kick in and how did a song so groovy end up here? “Jumping Jack Flash” has an amazing guitar riff that surprised me so much I thought another album accidentally came on.
This album is a marvel of editing and therein lies my mistake. The error of not listening to this sooner in life. Cherry picked singles are great but they take away from the experience of listening to all 4 sides in one sitting. Despite three locations and a different set list order than the original live performances, it all feels like a genuine one take start to finish.
It feels like a hug from the long ago past of one year ago. When we went to concerts with hundreds if not thousands of other people. Singing along, screaming along, cheering along to every song and even harder at our favorites. Dancing without a care because everyone else is doing the same. Letting the audience build up to that final great song of the night. Feeling pulses of bass in your chest and waves of melody encircle your body. “Frampton Comes Alive” is such a perfect title because I’m feeling a way I haven’t felt in a while and don’t expect to feel again until later this year.
Listen to the entire album now on YouTube…