40 Years Ago: Peter Frampton Follows Star-Making Album With ‘I’m in You’
Peter Frampton was on top of the world as 1977 started.
The mega success of his 1976 multi-platinum Frampton Comes Alive album brought fame, fortune and stardom the 26-year-old singer and guitarist never saw coming. That double live record topped the charts and made Frampton a star. But as gravity dictates, what goes up, must come down. Frampton's fall began with more success.
Released in May 1977, I'm in You followed the landmark live LP. It was not what fans expected ... or what they wanted. Over the run of his career, Frampton's music ran the gamut from psychedelic pop with the Herd to the harder rock 'n' roll of Humble Pie. His early solo records mixed folk, hard rock and power pop. Frampton Comes Alive highlighted his ability to turn up the volume and rock in concert, so when I'm in You arrived, nobody was really sure what was going on.
Frampton was well aware of the pressure to follow up such a big album. "Everyone was saying, 'Oh man, this is so good. You must feel so great',” he told Billboard. "Yeah I do, but I've got tomorrow to deal with. Hell, I've got to do a studio record to follow this up. And in my mind, I'm not proven in the studio, like I am now. I’m stamped 'The Live Guy.' So I felt like I had lost before I started the next part of my career. Before there was nothing to compete with. Now I felt I’m competing with “Peter Frampton.”
Rock 'n' roll Frampton had been replaced by pinup teen idol Frampton. Even the album cover -- with Frampton sporting an unbuttoned shirt and a sly smile -- was custom made for his new following of teenage girls across the globe.
The title track, a soulful ballad, opens the album, and it was an immediate hit as a single, shooting up to No. 2. The mid-tempo pop song "Putting My Heart on the Line" follows, and more tracks -- like "St. Thomas Don't You Know How I Feel" and "Won't You Be My Friend" -- keep things in low gear from there.
"Tried to Love" may be the album's best moment, as Frampton sounds more energized on this Stones-y rocker that features backing vocals from Mick Jagger. "Rocky's Hot Club," which features harmonica from Stevie Wonder, isn't bad either.
Frampton ends the album with a pair of cover songs, "I'm a Roadrunner" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," which aren't out of place with the soul influences that guide I'm in You, though they seem tacked on. But that didn't stop "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" from cracking the Top 20 when it was released as the album's second single.
"That was probably the least favorite period of my life," Frampton later recalled of the era and album. "The pressure was so great. There was absolutely no need to do I’m in You then and there. The biggest mistake was just not shutting down at that point. I had so much out there. The world was going crazy about Comes Alive! I didn't need to go and rush into something else. You're only as good as your last record, so don't put one out for a while."
The initial burst of enthusiasm for I'm in You pushed it onto the charts, but the bloom was off the rose, and compared to the mega-platinum sales of its predecessor, it couldn't help but be viewed as a failure. Within a year, the total collapse of Frampton mania would come with a little movie called Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
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