Although this show has circulated on comparatively lo-fi bootlegs lifted right off the air from the KSAN-FM radio broadcasts, thanks to the internet-accessible audio outlet Hip-O Select, Live in San Francisco: March 24, 1975 (2004) presents the roughly hour-long contents the way they deserve to be heard. Ever since his days in Humble Pie, Peter Frampton (guitar/vocals) had found the Bay Area to be extremely supportive and according to the artist's comments in the liner notes, San Francisco's primary AOR radio station "KSAN was really responsible for making San Francisco the city that broke me so far ahead of anywhere else in the country." Frampton is joined by John Siomos (drums), while the recent departure of Rick Wills (bass) -- who hooked up with Foreigner -- sent Andy Bown (bass/vocals) from the keyboards to the bass. That left the freshly vacated piano stool to be filled by new recruit Bob Mayo (keyboard/guitar/vocals). After a subdued "Introduction" from KSAN's Richard Gossett, Frampton slides into a sublime solo acoustic take of the title track to his debut LP Winds of Change (1972). As the program emanated from the state of the art Record Plant in Sausalito, there is no audience present, allowing the quartet to -- in Frampton's words -- "concentrate on the intricacies." They do and the results are uniformly brilliant. Despite having completed a multiple-performance stand just days earlier at Winterland Arena, the band sounds remarkably relaxed, contributing no doubt to the set's undeniably dynamic nature. The difference in ambience between these selections and those recorded a mere three months later for the biggest-selling live album in history -- Frampton Comes Alive (1976) -- is immeasurable. In addition to the aforementioned 'unplugged' "Winds of Change," the affecting and lyrical "Lines on My Face" is worth the price of admission alone. Frampton's fluid fretwork is at its peak and thanks to the faultless audio extracted from the original multi-track master tapes, the subtle sonic shadings and details are there to be revelled in. Things get cranked up considerably for a hearty reading of "Somethin's Happening," as well as the thoroughly ignited and otherwise string-bending "It's a Plain Shame" and "(I'll Give You) Money." Most surprising is the freshness of "Baby, I Love Your Way" and the 12-plus-minute "Do You Feel Like We Do," as both were all but ruined by incessant (almost to the point of become satires of the arena rock genre) spins on rock and Top 40 radio. Here they are given a further lease on life and offered as a welcome change from their Frampton Comes Alive counterparts.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer