Listen while high: Frampton Comes Alive! by Peter Frampton
Behind the buzz:
Seventies glamor-boy guitarist Peter Frampton's offloads his "Comes Alive 35"
tour into the Warfield Thursday night. Once blond and vacantly angelic, the star served
a long apprenticeship as pop pinup and hard-rock guitar wizard before breaking
ubiquitous back in the bicentennial year with this frantically titled double
LP. Advance word on how the 61-year-old heartthrob throws down these days is
scarce and not encouraging, with reports of thin and generally clueless
attendance, with the star ill-used by cretins in Toronto. So, fire one up and
let this monstrosity take you back to the days of multiplatinum
Presidential OG, a top-shelf indica not long to rest on any executive's desk.
Jukebox heroics: The blunderbuss glam of "Something's Happening" is as gratuitous a display of Mott the Hoopleism as you can quarry out of mid-'70s AOR. "Doobie Wah" is based on a purloined Doobie Bros riff that carries us, by dint of fat and flashy picking, to "Show Me the Way." This megahit inspired nothing more than idle
speculation on how its jabbering talk-box melody seems destined to pipe the
latter third of the Baby Boom over Charon's gangplank, as you still hear that
gargling talkbox effect jabbering out of half the speakers in North America. The
leering "It's a Plain Shame" demonstrates the plain limits of Frampton's reedy
vocals, and "Wind of Change" floats by zephyrlike until his barked "Thank
YEW!" cuts short the femme squealing at the finish. About midway through "Baby
I Love Your Way," I finally give up and skip to the cover of "Jumping Jack
Flash," which only reinforced the impression of a mouse romping inside a gorilla
suit. Eventually the allure of quitting all this roller disco jiveass for the
glories of "Do You Feel Like We Do" proves overwhelming.
Heavy on the mayo: At the full 14:15, this is still Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good" to five parts fizzwater, but the Claptonoid guitar breaks, Bob Mayo's twinkling digits at the keys, and the star choking the talkbox in an orgasmic series of farewell bleats make this one of the last great bong-gurgles of '70s FM radio.