Breaking All the Rules is a good, solid effort by Peter Frampton which would have been better had he decided to break a few rules. The problem here is that Frampton is treading water, in familiar territory, singing and playing within the confines of a well constructed safe record. There is a brilliant hook in "Going to L.A." which might have been a hit had co-producer David Kershenbaum given it a little of what he would inject into Tracy Chapman seven years after this. A strong vocal from Frampton as well as a strong performance, but a failure to do what his last three albums did: generate a Top 20 hit! Billy & Bobby Alessi's "Rise Up" is in the pocket, one of the album's highlights, though it tends to sound like John Cougar's 1979 chart climber "I Need a Lover," chock full of the sound from that record and a little out of place here. Vanda and Young's eternal "Friday on My Mind" is decent, certainly better than Alice Cooper guitarist Michael Bruce's version, but not typical of Peter Frampton's repertoire and almost unnecessary. The production on this Easybeats cover is noticeably thinner than the rest of the disc. Bostonian David Finnerty's "I Don't Wanna Let You Go" shows up here, but it doesn't have the snap of his 1975 hit, "Let's Live Together," and sounds as labored as the Joneses, that author's 1980s band on Atlantic. "Lost a Part of You" is a worthy album track sequel to "I'm in You," Frampton's biggest hit, but is more laid-back in performance. There are some clever riffs that help make "You Kill Me" and the title tune interesting. "Breaking All the Rules," in particular, has a Sabbath-inspired fuzz guitar line from the Rolling Stones' "Bitch." Where he does break the rules is that Procol Harum lyricist Keith Reid writes the words on this title number, despite some of Frampton's best lyrics appearing on his own compositions. Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro provide guitar and drums as part of a more than competent band on an equally competent recording. Making a good record was not what was required of Peter Frampton at this point in time, he had to come back with something spectacular. Breaking All the Rules is hampered by its creator's position in the rock hierarchy, but shouldn't be overlooked because of that.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione