August 10, 1981 12:00 PM

Peter Frampton

Frampton’s first LP since 1979’s Where I Should Be makes it hard to believe that for one brief moment Frampton Comes Alive was second only to Carole King’s Tapestry as the largest-selling pop album of all time (before the Bee Gees, Grease and Fleetwood Mac overtook them both). That shimmering, sweet sound on Alive, built largely on Frampton’s restrained guitar playing and his ingratiating pure-pop sentimentality, is history now. There is some pulverizing (at times excessive) rock support here from a whole new band. After so long a layoff, Frampton seems to need to reassert his rock chops. He does, at the expense of that ever-likable sound. While his playing is still appealingly idiosyncratic, the tunes are repetitive. Except for two restful ballads, Frampton’s scratchier, thicker voice is lost in overproduction. Frampton fans can hope he’ll take less time in producing a more balanced follow-up.

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