Peter Frampton: ‘We Left The Mistakes’ On ‘Frampton Comes Alive!’
You’ve probably heard the joke over the years that all live albums of the ’70s were actually born in the studio and in some cases, there’s a lot of truth to that statement. But if you’re talking about ‘Frampton Comes Alive!,’ Peter Frampton would like you to know that nearly every minute of one of the biggest selling albums of the ’70s is indeed completely “live” as advertised on the cover.
St. Louis alternative weekly ‘The Riverfront Times’ recently published a list of ‘Five Other Albums That Should Be Taken On Tour’ to coincide with the announcement of Frampton’s area show scheduled for next March where he will perform ‘Frampton Comes Alive!’ in its entirety, something that he has been doing nationwide this year to celebrate the album’s 35th anniversary.
They wrote: “Peter Frampton is going to play the iconic ‘Frampton Comes Alive!’ in its entirety in St. Louis, part of a 35th Anniversary tour that will see the 1970s rocker play his classic live double-album in its entirety for the first time since that time he went into the studio and overdubbed all the live parts shortly before its release.”
The attempted humor didn’t go over very well with Frampton, who placed a call to the RFT offices in order to personally set things straight.
“I’ll tell you exactly what happened when we mixed the live album, so there are no ifs, buts, where or whats. This was the rule that I had when we made “Frampton Comes Alive!,” being known as a live performer, I’m not going to go into the studio and overdub. If you want to say that, say that about ‘Kiss Alive,’ because they borrowed my guitars and my amps to do those overdubs.” (Editor’s note: whatever it takes, baby, that album rules!)
“In those days, technology was not as it is today. It just wasn’t as technical. We’ve come a long way, obviously. So unfortunately, on a couple of the tracks, only, some instruments were not recorded because there was crackling on the tape or the assistant or the guitar tech didn’t move a mic. (As for) the number of times that anything is overdubbed on ‘Frampton Comes Alive!’… the rule was, if it didn’t make it to the tape, then we can redo it because it needs to be done. If it made it to the tape, and it sounds good, we leave it. So nothing was overdubbed on that album at all that wasn’t absolutely necessary.’
He went on to outline the process of making the album in-depth and pointed out that there are actually a number of musical clams that remain intact on the released live album as we know it. “We left the mistakes in. If I wanted to have my voice be perfect and in tune, I would have re-sung the whole album. But I didn’t. Because it wouldn’t be live. And there are some really bad notes that I sing. There’s some out of tune guitar notes that I play, as well.”
Frampton says that the “magic” of ‘Comes Alive!’ holds up 35 years later partially because “all the mistakes are left in.” Fans will get a chance to experience the record for themselves when his tour resumes in February.