Artist: Peter Frampton
Album: Premonition, All The Pieces Fit and Now Reissues
Release Date: 09/04/2015
When you had one of the best selling albums of all time — in this case, Frampton Comes Alive — and it’s well over twenty years since you celebrated the glory days of being an international star, any kind of comeback is going to be a challenge at best. Let’s face it, fame and fortune don’t smile on most people even over the course of an entire lifetime, so to hope it strikes twice is all but impossible to even imagine. Peter Frampton knows that all too well. Although he continues to be lauded as a Grammy winning artist and performer, the idea that you can reset the clock and dial it back forty years is a fool’s folly at best. Can you say Frampton Comes Alive II? Nice try, Pete, but it was far more admirable to attempt to do what you once did best, that is, turn out worthy rockers that put his smooth croon and vivid fretwork front and center, and then appreciate whatever rewards might follow.
That’s what this former British teen idol attempted to do in the latter part of the ’80s when he originally released the two albums that would define his post Alive career. Call it a resurrection, if you’ll pardon the pun. Premonition (1986) and When All the Pieces Fit (1989) were a fine way to bookend the end of the ’80s, each boasting their share of Frampton’s patented feisty rockers (“Stop,” “Hiding from a Heartache” from the former, “More Whys Than One,” “Hold Tight,” “People All Over the World” off the latter). Still, after lingering in the shadow of his earlier triumphs, both albums sunk without a trace. Omnivore’s reissues give each a second chance, which they do deserve. While the Frampton formula is well known by now, the songs still stand as worthy additives to his catalog. ‘Nuff said.
Now, Frampton’s first album of the new millennium, varies the template somewhat. “Verge of a Thing” found the newly shorn guitarist veering into jazz (“Flying Without Wings”), fancy fretwork (“Green”), balladry (“Mia Rose”), and eastern motifs (“I Need Ground”) in addition to his usual stock of uptempo offerings (the telling “I’m Back,” opener “Verge of a Thing”). He also opts for a cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” recording it as a tribute to his then-recently departed pal George Harrison. It’s a credible choice — after all, Frampton played on George’s epic All Things Must Pass — but his version is such a direct steal of the original, one must wonder what real purpose it served.
All in all, these three albums offer opportunity to catch up on Frampton’s career, particularly for those fans that abandoned him after he reached his nadir with “I’m in You.” The lack of bonus tracks takes points away (only Premonition offers any, and even then it’s a scant two), but for the most part, all three efforts hold up today. Perhaps Omnivore will look next at reissuing the man’s early studio sets, those that laid the groundwork for Comes Alive. With the exception of his work with Humble Pie (a whole legacy that needs to be untilled), it was the finest Frampton in the course of his entire career.
– Lee Zimmerman