After releasing an album each year from his first solo release in 1972, this record was the one which gave Peter Frampton his first real taste of solo success. As he toured the States in support of it in 1975, he found his music was being greeted with increasing enthusiasm, even though back in his native England most people barely remembered him from his earlier successful years with The Herd and Humble Pie. This American success paved the way for his massive smash live album 'Frampton comes alive', which took the world by storm in 1976, and although his superstardom rapidly waned thereafter, the live album brought his melodic pop/rock and tasteful lead guitar work to a worldwide audience.
'Frampton' in many ways followed the pattern of Peter's three previous solo albums, containing largely guitar-driven, lively songs, with his characteristic lead guitar style and sound, and some short instrumentals. However, the songs were, in his own opinion, considerably better than many of his earlier ones and had a more commercial sound. Despite being recorded during the gloom of a British November, the album has a cheerful, sunny sound which perhaps helped its American success the following summer. The recording was made with a mobile studio at Clearwell Castle in the Welsh borders, and has something of a 'live' ambience about it, reflecting the acoustic characteristics of the large castle rooms in which it was recorded. The songs are primarily based around Frampton's lively but relaxed piano and acoustic rhythm guitar work, with attractive melodies and harmony vocals, but the overall sound is fairly simple and not heavily overdubbed. In that sense it very much resembles the hit sound of 'Comes alive', but without the extra 'urgency' of a live performance.
The songs 'Show me the way', 'Baby I love your way' and 'Money' and the short acoustic guitar instrumental 'Penny for your thoughts' (all contained in the live album) are included, but because of their familiarity they are not my favourites on this record. To me, perhaps the best tracks are the relatively gentle 'One more time' and 'The crying clown', which include very tasteful guitar solos, whilst among the more lively songs 'Day's dawning' and 'Fanfare' are the most memorable.
So though hardly a musically ground-breaking album, 'Frampton' shows the artist establishing his identity as a competent purveyor of melodic pop/rock, and is an essential for any Peter Frampton enthusiast. And with most of Frampton's albums having been unavailable on CD for years, the release of several of his early albums in remastered form is very welcome indeed.