Peter Frampton - Frampton (1976) - Album review

By Sergio Ariza

At the gateway of massive success
To listen to this album, Frampton, is to listen to someone who has finally found the formula for success.
Peter Frampton had been a child prodigy during the Swingin' London days and had later shared a band with the legendary Steve Marriott in Humble Pie, but the increasingly hard rock turn of those days had led him to pursue a solo career that at that time never quite took off - that is, until he found his ideal place in this album full of acoustic and melodic songs that fitted the winds blowing at the top of the charts like a glove. These included artists like the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, bands that songs like Show Me The Way or Baby, I Love Your Way fit like a glove.

Day's Dawning already makes it clear where the album is going; close to that soft rock that was taking over the charts, but also with a sophistication that, in this song, brought him closer to the wonderful Steely Dan. This is especially the case for the solo in which Frampton showed that he could have easily have guested on the sophisticated albums by Fagen and Becker.

Incidentally his lead electric guitar on this record was his mythical Phenix, a '54 Les Paul Custom modified with three double pickups. It is not the only thing he plays on an album in which he is in charge of all the guitars, acoustic and electric, all the keyboards, the bass on Baby, I Love Your Way and a little gadget that would be irremediably linked to his name - the talkbox.
In the second song of the album, Show Me The Way, Frampton used for the first time this innovative device that Bob Heil had given him, and that was the same as the one he had made for
Joe Walsh, and that the latter had successfully introduced in Rocky Mountain Way. Frampton locked himself away for a week with the contraption and when he emerged, his guitar could speak lucidly. Like the song itself, he would take it to its extreme in his live performances, but here he was already making his mark on a track that was otherwise the most melodic and mellow he had ever written. Close to an Albert Hammond Jr. song, Show Me The Way was destined to take the charts by storm, although he had to wait a few months for Frampton Comes Alive! to appear before his destiny was fulfilled.

Among the rest of the songs, Nowhere's Too Far - one of the few electric songs on the album - stood out; although it is not a hard rock song either, but almost a piece of proto power pop close to Badfinger. The best is again his solo - on which he demonstrates his melodic chops on the six strings. On (I'll Give You) Money - one of the few songs on this album that could have appeared on a Humble Pie album, - Frampton returns, for a moment, to the hard rock riffs; although he doesn't forget to soften them with some harmonies more typical of his style. It's not the best track of his career but one can imagine it sounding perfect for the throat of his former partner Steve Marriott; what is for sure is that Frampton knows how to get all the flavor out of his Les Paul. Another outstanding track is Penny For Your Thoughts, a perfect folk track to show off his acoustic skills, it's kind of like the Beatles' Blackbird, if you take away
McCartney's wonderful melody.
Of course, the other great number on the album, besides Show Me The Way, was the outstanding Baby, I Love Your Way, which was another mainly acoustic track, with one of the best choruses of his career; a ‘cotton candy piece’ that was very hard to resist. As with Show Me The Way, it took the live version to become a huge hit but the sales of this album, the first of his solo career to break into the Billboard Top 40, already made it clear that the public had taken note and Frampton was aligned with those at the vanguard. Less than a year later, the release of Frampton Comes Alive! would make him the star he had always seemed to be.