Pretty much every band or artist at some point embarks and releases that all important, catalogue filling, live album. Yet how many times in more recent times have they just sounded like a rendition of what happened in the studio. Less ad lib, more digital perfection for the headphone, iPhone wielding masses, perhaps?
So once again, for me it’s back to an era of less ‘electro’, more bluesey rock and what seemingly appears to be more musicianship. More experimentation and less commercialism. Hard work resulted in the breakthrough, live tours and continual promotion through getting out there and quite simply playing. The period of the late 60’s and 70’s, before the CD, well before the MP3, resulted in artists and bands spawning new collaborations, links with quality session musicians and quality, raw live albums.
Take the Yardbirds… Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Three stunning musicians who went on to become guitar wielding legends in their own lifetimes, with Page leading the Led Zeppelin to untold heights of popularity and a unique, defined sound.
There are others too, who through touring and graft went on to succeed. Perhaps not to the heights of the aforementioned, but still worthy of a closer look.
In 1976, one such example sold over 6 million copies of a live album. Pretty much unheard of until that point, Peter Frampton, still remains today less known. Yet, Frampton Comes Alive beat Fleetwood Mac to top spot in album sales in ’76 and remains one of the top selling live albums of all time. Playing his Les Paul Custom, with energy and finesse, Frampton’s softer vocals often belied the power of his music, a combination which probably catapulted the album to such great heights. He also utilised the ‘TalkBox’ to great effect, becoming a trade mark in his early music.
Frampton’s studio albums may not have achieved the same commercial success yet as a musician it would appear he is well sought after, even teaming up with David Bowie on his Glass Spider tour.
So going ‘Live’ could bring it’s rewards and if you are tempted to take a listen to Peter Frampton, then I strongly suggest you start right here. Frampton, truly does Come Alive!
Frampton Comes Alive
Released 1976, A&M Records ALM 63703
Double LP. See the Discogs Listing >>