Peter Frampton

Some questions for folks of a certain vintage: Remember growing up in the '70s? Remember how embarrassing it was? Remember wishing you'd come of age in just about any previous decade, because at least none of them were defined by pet rocks, polyester and Peter Frampton? Remember any of that? At all? Or have the years left you feeling misty about that chunk of granite you once bought because you liked the way it looked in an overpriced box, or that leisure suit you were positive made you look just like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (or maybe Jeff Goldblum in Thank God It's Friday), or the way Frampton made his guitar sound like a flock of geese passing gas?

If this last sentence describes you, then this is your lucky millennium. True, Pet Rock: The Movie hasn't started lensing yet, but polyester is back with a vengeance: Most of the glad rags in department stores these days seem to have been made in chemistry labs. Better still, the Peter Frampton renaissance is in full swing, with "Baby, I Love Your Way" getting respectful treatment in the flick High Fidelity (John Cusack's character decides it's a fine tune even though Lisa Bonet is singing it), Frampton himself appearing in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, and now this pair of commemorative CDs, whose spare-no-expense packaging and bonus tracks are naked bids for historical revisionism.

Never mind that the 25th-anniversary edition of the mega-selling Frampton Comes Alive! -- complete with young Crowe's original liner notes, which leave no cliche unturned, and several extra tunes that were left off back in 1976 for awfully fine reasons -- seems even lamer than it once did. "Show Me the Way" and the other hits come across as gummy and undistinguished, and the onstage banter ("We'd like to get a bit funky now," Frampton announces before launching into the thoroughly unfunky "Doobie Wah") has more cobwebs than Carlsbad Caverns. And forget, too, that Peter Frampton, a failed comeback effort from 1994 that's supplemented with live acoustic renditions of -- surprise! -- "Baby, I Love Your Way" and "Show Me the Way," is the very definition of pedestrian, with one tune, "So Hard to Believe," that sounds so much like something by Phil Collins that Phil's probably filing suit right now. That doesn't matter, my friends. As every nostalgia merchant knows, what was once ephemeral can be made to seem eternal with the passage of enough time -- and the alarm just went off!

Can't wait for the 25th-anniversary deluxe edition of Cracked Rear View, by Hootie & the Blowfish. Should be out about eighteen years from now, and it'll be fabulous.


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