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- Posted on Oct 14th 2011 1:00PM by David Chiu
"I remember his face coming up over the control console," Frampton tells Spinner. "He was sitting in front of it and listening and he said, 'Where's the rest?' That's when we realized we had something. He said, 'I'm missing this, I'm missing that,' 'It's so good,' 'If you need to record some more, go on and record some more.' That's when we knew it was going to be a double album. We never really planned on that."
The single live album that became a double was 'Frampton Comes Alive!' Released in 1976, it was the record the made Peter Frampton a superstar, spending 10 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart and selling eight million copies in the U.S. to date. This year, on the 35th anniversary of its release, Frampton is on tour performing 'Frampton Comes Alive!' in its entirety for the first part of the set, with the other songs from his career making up the second set.
"The reviews that I've seen from people in the audience on social media are that they love the fact we do 'Comes Alive!' and they're thrilled to get to see it again," he says. "But they're really surprised and blown away by the second set, which in the back of my mind was my goal: 'OK, this is what you know me for, but this is what I'm doing now and have been doing ever since.' So it's really working well, let's put it that way."
Recorded mostly at Winterland in San Francisco -- and with a band consisting of bassist Stanley Sheldon, drummer John Siomos and keyboardist/guitarist Bob Mayo -- 'Frampton Comes Alive!' is essentially a compilation of Frampton's previous work. It yielded three hit singles: 'Baby, I Love Your Way,' 'Show Me the Way' and 'Do You Feel Like We Do.' Frampton admits now that it got to a surreal level when he heard that 'Frampton Comes Alive!' entered highly on the album charts upon its release. At the time, he was on a few days' break from touring up to Christmas in 1975.
"Before I went away, we had one date in Cobo Hall in Detroit booked. I didn't know how well it was selling. Then I came back 10 days later, and then we sold three or four of them out. That was the first sign for me that things were going through the roof. It was a matter of a couple of weeks later when I heard we sold a million copies in one week and we were No. 1. That was pretty incredible. Obviously, everything changed from that point on."
Things certainly did change for Frampton after the success of 'Frampton Comes Alive!' -- but then he faced the task of releasing its follow-up. "I didn't want to do a record right away," he says, "and if I had more confidence in my decision-making at that point, I probably wouldn't have put out another record for two to three years, because you're only as good as your last record. As soon as you put out something that wasn't successful as the one before, you're judged on that one, not on the big success of the one before.
"To be in a creative frame of mind right after all that -- when you just don't know what quite happened -- is very difficult. You're sort of in this whirlwind of activity. I think it wasn't the most exciting period for me. The tour following 'Comes Alive!,' that whole year was great. But then having to go back into the studio straightaway and make what was going to be then the 'I'm in You' record [in 1977] was not my finest hour."
Frampton continued to make more albums, his most recent one being 'Thank You Mr. Churchill,' but 'Frampton Comes Alive' will remain his most recognized work. Asked why that particular album still connects with people, Frampton says it's all about the performance.
"There is something that comes across on that record," he says. "When Bob Mayo and I went in with Stanley Sheldon into Wally Heider's studio a few days after we recorded it at Winterland, [engineer] Ray Thompson put up all the faders and said, 'Check this out.' I just remember not by volume, but the energy that was coming from the speakers -- it just knocked us backwards, figuratively speaking. There's something magical. You can't listen to 'Frampton Comes Alive!' without smiling."
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