Peter Frampton

Frampton Comes Alive II

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Ostensibly, Peter Frampton's second live album, Frampton Comes Alive II, was intended to serve the same function as his first, the wildly successful Frampton Comes Alive! (1976): to give greater exposure to some underrated material previously released on such solo albums as I'm in You (1977), Premonition (1986), When All the Pieces Fit (1989), and Peter Frampton (1994), just as Frampton Comes Alive! did for songs from Wind of Change (1972), Frampton's Camel (1973), Somethin's Happening (1974), and Frampton (1975). In addition, it allowed Frampton to introduce a batch of new songs. The tracks were recorded between August 1992 and June 16, 1995. The 13 selections, plus an introduction, ran a CD-filling 72 minutes, 24 seconds, when the disc appeared on October 10, 1995. Six weeks later comes this home-video complement to the audio version, a 127-minute concert recorded at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco on June 15, 1995. The show gives a much more complete sense of what a concert by the 45-year-old Frampton is like, containing 12 of the CD songs ("More Ways Than One" is missing), plus old favorites from Frampton Comes Alive! "Lines on My Face," "All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side)," the acoustic-guitar instrumental "Penny for Your Thoughts," "I Wanna Go to the Sun," and the hits "Show Me the Way," "Baby, I Love Your Way," and "Do You Feel Like We Do." Frampton, scarred by two bouts as a pretty-boy pop idol (as a teenage member of the Herd in Britain in the late '60s and in the wake of Frampton Comes Alive!) seems at pains to display himself in a grittier, more low-key manner here. He appears on-stage before his three-piece backup group (keyboardist/second guitarist Bob Mayo, bassist John Regan, and drummer John "J.R." Robinson) in an open flannel shirt that he doffs after a few numbers to reveal a gray tank-top T-shirt which in turn demonstrates that, unlike most people who like to be photographed in what are also called "muscle" shirts, he isn't given to upper-body exercising. He has also cut off his long, curly locks, and his hair is clearly thinning. As he goes through the concert sweating heavily through the T-shirt, the effect seems deliberately intended to make the viewer forget his photogenic youth. And yet, he remains an engaging performer, mugging and acting out the greeting-card lyrics of romantic devotion and self-assertion in his mostly self-written songs. And those songs remain relentlessly catchy pop/rock tunes, appealing enough, yet never really more than platforms for his guitar playing. (The concert will delight guitar fans not only for that playing, but also for the extensive collection of different guitars Frampton employs.) Maybe that's why it took his good looks, in addition to his music, to make Frampton a star in the first place. Frampton Comes Alive II the video shows, despite the sweat-stained shirt and slight physique, that he's still a good-looking middle-aged man, and still a terrific guitar player. [The DVD version of the video, released January 30, 2007, in conjunction with an expanded two-CD set of the audio album, contained a 5.1 Surround Sound mix of the concert, but no extras.]

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