Frampton Comes Alive... Again!
Peter Frampton at House of Blues in October 2011
Photo by Barry Sigman
FCA! 35 Tour : An Evening with Peter Frampton Eagle Rock, 189 mins., $19.98
Things weren't looking so hot for 25-year-old singer/guitarist Peter Frampton's career at the end of 1975. After stints as a teen idol (with the Herd), lead guitarist (Humble Pie), and bandleader (Frampton's Camel), his subsequent solo career wasn't exactly setting the world -- or record sales -- on fire.
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Concerned that the power and intensity of his live shows weren't coming across on studio records, artist and management took the (then) bold step of releasing a double live record early the next year. Shockingly, Frampton Comes Alive! became a monolithic runaway success, setting the now de rigueur discography entry for any successful act. In 2011, it was certified eight times platinum.
This double-disc DVD (as well as the accompanying 3-CD release) is, simply put, a classic rock tour de force, showcasing how underrated Frampton is as both a guitarist and frontman. And the genuine joy he still gets in performing - even if the long golden locks have understandably been replaced by time into baldness and grayness - is evident. His genial and self-deprecating between-song commentary also humanizes him.
Disc 1 showcases Frampton and his band (keyboardist/guitarist Rob Arthur, guitarist Adam Lester, original FCA bassist Stanley Sheldon, and drummer Dan Wojciechowski) running through the entire record - if not in exact order. Original FCA keyboardist Bob Mayo and drummer John Siomos both passed in 2004. Son Julian Frampton also adds occasional background vocals.
And while the monster hits "Show Me the Way," "Baby, I Love Your Way," and "Do You Feel Like We Do?" naturally get the best audience reaction, it's on lesser-known tracks like the aching "Lines on My Face," "All I Wanna Be (Is By Your Side)" and "(I Wanna) Go to the Sun" which really stand out.
And the slot for best rocker surely goes to "(I'll Give You) Money," a meaty, crunchy guitar workout with power and balls. (But why does Frampton love those parentheses in song titles?).
Disc 2 is more for the Frampton fan, but it's a wonderfully schizophrenic mixed bag of Humble Pie ("I Don't Need No Doctor"), instrumentals from the Fingerprints record ("Float," "Boot it Up," "Double Nickels"), newer songs ("Asleep at the Wheel," "Road to the Sun") and covers including a smoking "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and even Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" from Fingerprints, complete with trademark Frampton vocoder.
The bonus feature is a fascinating mini-documentary about Frampton's reunion with his beloved Gibson Les Paul guitar -- which he played throughout the entire original tour and which is pictured on the album cover. Long thought lost or destroyed in an overseas plane crash, it was painstakingly authenticated and restored, just in time to get trotted out for the 35 tour.
All in all FCA! 35 is more than just a nostalgic souvenir for aging baby boomers. It's an affirmation of classic rock, classic songs, and a man who continues to prove that -- as for the Bee Gees, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper and Steve Martin -- a role in the 1978 movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was not a career-killer.
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