Wind of Change, Frampton's Camel, Something's Happening, Frampton, and I'm in You (A&M)
Reviewed by Michael Bertin, Fri., Dec. 8, 2000
Wind of Change (A&M)
Frampton's Camel (A&M)
Something's Happening (A&M)
I'm in You (A&M)Peter Frampton reissues? Don't laugh. You're the one with the Farrah-feathered hair and coke-dealer's-girlfriend sunglasses. So why not see just how committed to this Seventies fashion premise you are? While he was never the technical monster that, say, Steve Howe was and never had the stature of Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page, Frampton was (is?) a pretty decent player. Plus, didn't every other person on planet Earth pick up a copy of Frampton Comes Alive? There has to be a reason, and the drugs couldn't haven been that good back then. Too bad, then, that A&M went the cheap route. No additional liner notes, no bonus tracks, no nothing save for a credit to the catalog's reissue supervisor, and a note on the original release date. Seeing as Frampton made them millions, they could have been a little magnanimous and spent some of it here, although it's not like the pre-Comes Alive albums burned up the charts. For instance, the less said about 1972's Winds of Change, the better. It's sluggish and unsure. However, if you've ever wanted to decipher the lyrics to the Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash," it could come in handy. The following year's Frampton's Camel is a different animal altogether (sorry). With staples like "Lines on My Face" and "Do You Feel Like We Do," it's more than tolerable, and somewhat surprisingly, sounds remarkably undated 25-plus years later, "All Night Long" holding up as a good example of Frampton's pop-rock songcraft. Of course it also contains bloated crap like the operatic "I Believe (When I Fall in Love With You It Will Be Forever)." Frampton's next studio album, Something's Happening, is perhaps the best of the lot, if for no other reason than it sounds like the handiwork of someone in the midst of being smitten with Jeff Beck's Blow by Blow. Here, Frampton's leads are sharp, his phrasing tasteful, and his tones both warm and piercing. Kind of gives you more reason to appreciate Frampton when you realize Something's Happening actually predates Beck's classic album by a year. Moreover, with the likes of "Doobie Wah" and "I Want to Go to the Sun," it's full of loose and confident performances from start to finish, with "Waterfall" as the only throwaway. Near-perfect stuff for cuddling up with your favorite bong. The self-titled follow-up, Frampton, is a lesser mimicking of its predecessor. Known for spawning the AOR hits "Baby, I Love Your Way," and "Show Me the Way," Frampton's gems are actually the album cuts like "Fanfare," "Nowhere's Too Far (For My Baby)," and the Montrose "Rock Candy" rip-off, "(I'll Give You) Money." While it's a little flat in spots, it's not hard to see how Frampton would go from this to the spirited (even if elongated) performances that made his next album, Frampton Comes Alive, such a phenomenon. Throw in a little more of the talk box, knock it up a notch for the crowd, and boom, you've sold more records than the credit bureau. With the post-Comes Alive! effort I'm in You, Frampton goes full-circle -- that is, back to bad. It sounds like the work of suits wanting to produce hits from their new golden boy. Save "Won't You Be My Friend," most everything else clocks in at a radio-friendly pace of under four minutes. Hear the wimpy "Beth"-esque piano of the title track ("Hey, it worked for KISS!"), see the teen-idol treatment of the cover photo, and that's about all you need to get the full feeling of the album's dullness. If you make it to the album's wretched closer, Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)," then God love you, as you have earned the right to sport that Star Wars iron-on decal T-shirt while cruising in your Good Times van.
(Wind of Change)
(I'm in You)