Following modest success in the mid-1960s in the Herd and increasing popularity during his five-album tenure in Humble Pie, lead guitarist Peter Frampton embarked on a solo career. At the time, many found this move questionable, as Humble Pie were just breaking through to American audiences with the release of Rockin’ The Fillmore, a raw, exuberant live album that captured the original group at the peak of their powers and showcased Frampton’s guitar playing in a most positive light. Over the next several years, Frampton released several promising, but uneven, albums that gradually increased his profile, but failed to capture the immediacy and excitement of his live performances. The big breakthrough occurred in 1976 when Frampton released his first live recording, Frampton Comes Alive, which literally exploded onto the charts, remaining in the Top Ten for over a year and eventually becoming the biggest selling live album of all time. Uncharacteristically for a live album, Frampton Comes Alive spawned no less than three hit singles and a ubiquitous FM radio staple, which led to a cover story in Rolling Stone magazine, making Peter Frampton a household name by the end of the year.
The follow-up album, 1977s I’m In You saw Frampton writing songs that displayed distinct R&B leanings, but despite the title song becoming another hit and the album going platinum, it was perceived as a disappointment compared to the monumental success of the live album. Although it was inevitable that many of his fans would perceive this as too dramatic a departure in style, the new songs on this album were chock full of catchy hooks, memorable choruses, spicy horns, and plenty of his trademark guitar stylings. “I’m In You” contained some of the most engaging material Frampton had ever written and more clearly displayed his talents as an arranger, and to promote the new album, Frampton again hit the road.
One of the most highly anticipated engagements of this tour occurred on July 2nd and 4th when Frampton returned to the Bay Area, where much of the material from his landmark live album was originally recorded. These shows were part of promoter Bill Graham’s annual “Day On The Green” series and on these 1977 dates, Frampton co-headlined with Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd and openers the Outlaws and Santana, before massive audiences at Oakland’s Coliseum Stadium. Presented here are choice highlights from the Frampton’s July 2nd performance. This first of the two dates captures Frampton and company in strong form, performing seven choice songs, including two highly extended numbers which were guaranteed to be crowd pleasers.
Frampton opens with an acoustic solo version of “All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side)” and immediately the crowd is entranced. He brings his band onstage for “Baby, I Love Your way” and continues with “Show Me The Way,” the rather introspective ballad that became a mega-hit the previous year. It’s an engaging performance that results in massive applause from the Oakland audience. The remainder of the recording focuses on the final 45 minutes of the set, beginning with Frampton encouraging audience participation on a marathon 24-minute exploration of his touchstone of 1970s rock, “Do You Feel Like We Do.” Much like the live album version, this song clearly focuses on Frampton’s guitar playing and energetic performing skills, traits that always came across far better on stage. Although the song itself is generally lightweight, the improvisational nature of this number adds in heavier elements as the song progresses and features an extended call-and-response section between Frampton’s voice-box guitar and the audience. Although others (Jeff Beck and Joe Walsh most notably) had begun exploring the voice box when performing live, it was Frampton who epitomized its use, and although by this point it had become somewhat of a gimmick, the audience obviously loves it.
This highly extended workout is followed by another improvisational vehicle, with Frampton delivering one of the more unique interpretations of the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Also highly extended, Frampton’s version features plenty of originality, initially slowing down the tempo, changing pace several times, and adding an extended jam section that features impressive musicianship from the entire band. These last two numbers, clocking in at nearly 40 minutes combined, leave the Oakland audience clamoring for an encore. Frampton obliges, but having already rocked out thoroughly, he returns to the stage with keyboardist Bob Mayo, and with piano as the primary accompaniment, treats the audience to a stripped-down take of the title track to his new album. This version of “I’m In You” is all the more compelling for the stark arrangement that focuses on the beauty of the melody and Frampton’s vocal sincerity. Although anti-climactic following the highly extended jamming that preceded it, this encore serves as a love song directed at the Oakland audience and is a gentle closing to a vibrant performance.