Peter Frampton

Frampton Comes Alive II

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Nearly 20 years after the original Frampton Comes Alive! -- and two years after Meat Loaf proved that explicit sequels to '70s blockbusters were commercially viable -- Peter Frampton released Frampton Comes Alive II. Twenty years is a long time, and the Frampton showcased on FCA II -- originally released as a 13-track album in 1995 and expanded into a double-disc deluxe edition in 2007 (an expansion that doesn't change the character of the album since it only offers more of the same) is quite different than the one on the first Frampton Comes Alive!. He, of course, is an older musician, which is something that he doesn't try to disguise: always an enormously accomplished guitarist, his playing has only grown tighter over the years, resulting in a clean (maybe too clean) professional set that gives a good name to rock & roll veterans. But just because he's older doesn't mean that he doesn't have anything to prove: Frampton Comes Alive! was a career-making blockbuster but it was a bit of an albatross around his neck, turning him into a one-hit wonder or a '70s relic in some quarters. He's out to shake loose this perception here, refusing to rely on the big '70s hits (at least in the album's original incarnation; they're the bonus tracks on the 2007 special edition) and playing with spirit here. The spirit may be more evident in his guitar than his vocals -- he occasionally sounds a little thin as he sings -- but it helps make Frampton Comes Alive II a respectable sequel. It may not be as exciting or entertaining as the original, but it's no embarrassment, and it proves that the journeyman musician who had a fluke mega-hit in 1976 retained the basic skills that he built his career upon: namely, his muscular, melodic guitar playing -- skills that are as evident twenty years later as they were at the peak of his success.

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