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Overrated Albums I: Frampton Comes Alive

[see here for reference]

On my 14th birthday I received Frampton Comes Alive.

A few friends had chipped in to get me the album. They didn't have enough money left over for wrapping paper, so they wrapped it in tin foil.

fca.jpgAs usual for a late summer afternoon in 1976, we met that August 25 behind the local 7-11 to drink beer (hidden in Slurpee cups) and smoke cigarettes. They presented the foil present to me and I unwrapped it, knowing what it was, relishing the moment I had been waiting for all week since Lori spilled the beans about my present.

And there it was. The blonde curls, the look of holy ecstasy, the blue lights; I was finally holding the prize of my collection in all its vinyl glory.

I didn't let on that I didn't really like Frampton's music. I liked his hair. I liked his smile. I liked him. I held fast to the lie that I was all into his music, but at that point in my life I was really into Kiss, Zeppelin and Genesis and Frampton was, for me, just a pretty face.

Ok, I went crazy over three songs on the double album ("Show Me the Way," "Do You Feel Like I Do," "Baby I Love Your Way") and two of those songs I only liked because of the "couples only" potential at the roller rink, but the rest was crap.

However, I was cool for having it because everyone wanted a copy. So the troops gathered and we went back to my house and listened for hours to the stupid wah-wah pedal thing.

When you are 14 and you just smoked some pot and the record player is emitting sounds of "do you feel like we do" played through some voice synthesizer, all you think about is some Charlie Brown special where the teachers are doing that wah-wah-wah voice and you keep saying to yourself, if I had just asked for Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak instead, I'd be rocking out to The Boys Are Back In Town instead of pretending to like the music of just another pretty face.

Yet, for some reason, Frampton Comes Alive makes an appearance on every list of top albums EVER. It's not. It's two albums consisting of three overplayed songs, a bunch of crap and some pictures of a really hot guy.

And that's why FCA makes my list for most overrated albums ever (you can still make your nominations). Next up: Why The Wall isn't as grand as people make it out to be (and a big middle finger to those who think Dark Side of the Moon is overrated).

[cross posted at blogcritics]

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Comments

I hate "The Wall", I hated the single. My mum and dad bought me the album as a gift for being good/useful, something. I'm afraid to say I played it loud so they would be happy about having given me such a beloved gift. Then I sold it a week later.

"Dark Side of The Moon" is an album that a 40+ year old cannot be without.

I'm currently getting all the "Yes" albums on CD, I got a "greatest/best of" the other day in a sale, I'm as hooked as I was way back when.

The radio gets shut off immediatley ANY Frampton song comes on. Same goes for nearly ALL Eagles tunes.

I actually think the wall is good. Good. Not Great. And the film really ruined it. I recall on the special DVD, Roger Waters mentioned that there is not one single smile or laugh in the entire movie. That's some seriously screwed up stuff.

I always have problems with these "over-rated" lists, mainly because nobody ever mentions who's doing the rating. Does it mean highly rated by the critics or highly rated by fans? Usually there is not all that big an overlap between the two, which means that you can make a case for just about any album. If it was a big hit, you can point to the critics, and if it was a flop but critically praised you can point to the sales.

Certainly Frampton Comes Alive was one of the drawbacks of having only AM radio in one's parents' car in the 1970s. The voicebox gimmick was old after a week.

My nomination for the list is The Who Sings My Generation. AllMusic gives it five stars, so it's definitely highly rated. But aside from the title track and "The Kids are Alright" the album is virtually unlistenable without wincing. The Who would eventually become better, and I don't think any of the big three albums (Tommy, Who's Next, Quadrophenia) are overrated at all.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! He's JUST A PRETTY FACE. His songs are soporific and horrid. Yes.

I'm just generally going to nominate Oasis. Whatever the hell album "Wonderwall " is on ... the next Beatles, my ass. That song is just too stupid - and the rest of the much -acclaimed album could never makeup for it.

Hooray...somebody hates the Eagles as much as I do. I'm not alone.

Although, "Hotel California" was great for a bathroom break when I was DJing years ago.

Now I have "Baby I Love Your Way" in my head. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(and a big middle finger to those who think Dark Side of the Moon is overrated).

Amen. I have to say I was very surprised to see it nominated. It's still one of my favorites, and I was extremely pleased when my 15 year old daughter asked to borrow the CD the other day and then told me she liked it, too.

Maybe those who don't care for it weren't even born yet when it was first released? I'd wager that the age of the participants will have a lot to do with their choices in this poll.

I bought this when it came out, waaaay back in '76, right before it started climbing the charts. A friend of mine who was a little older than me, and a terrific guitarist to boot (I sang lead for a couple of his band projects back in the day, much later), said "You gotta get that album, he's a hell of a guitar player".

Curiosity provoked, I went out and got it (having not heard Pete's previous four albums, nor any Humble Pie that he was on) and thought it was GREAT. Played it for about a week solid. Then, a funny thing happened- I stopped playing it. Didn't play it again for weeks, and didn't want to. Of course, hearing "Do You Feel Like We Do" over and over and OVER on the radio probably contributed to this, but for some reason I simply got very tired of it very fast...and while I still own this, I'll bet you I haven't listened to it as much in the last 29 years as I did that one week!

I look at that album now and I can't bring myself to hate it- those are some catchy, tuneful songs, and the performances are pretty good. But I just have no desire to hear them ever again.

I totally agree with the previous poster about The Wall, THAT'S an overrated album if I ever heard one. Roger Waters whines about what a miserable childhood he had for an hour and a half, and we all queue up and pay our twenty bucks for the privilige. Feh.

...and as far as I'm concerned, Phil Lynott was just anouther pretty face as well, but that's an argument for another time...! :)

"anouther" is the English spelling of "another", by the way.

Wait, I'm not English. Oh well...

Well, it is one of the top selling albums of all time, but I can't imagine a single music critic ever putting this on a top 10 list of anything. It just hit at the right craptacular time in the 70s, before punk and right at the end of the dominance of E-Z listenin', bloated rock.

The second side of Hotel California is not at all overrated! Most of you just remember the title song, "New Girl in Town" and maybe "Life in the Fastlane" and forget all the other songs on the album

Anyone who puts Hotel California on an overrated list does so by a criteria that is foreign to me. Rhythm, harmony, melody, (decent - not spectacular) musicianship, lyrics that say something, it's all there. Maybe not enough angst and attitude? Fine. But that has nothing to do with music.

Even for this Christian, "The Last Resort" is one of the finest closing songs ever.

If HC is on the list, you might as well put Rumours on it, too. I'm sure one of the punksters has already nominated it. These kids today...

Slartibartfast, don't forget the beautiful orchestral arrangement of the Wasted Time reprise!

Was DSOTM nominated because they couldn't synch it to Wizard of Oz accurately?

Just wondering...

Unk

I must defend the honor of Frampton and Floyd here because of your sweeping indictments.

I too was 14 in 76 when I got the Frampton album and I also really only ever listened to "Do You Feel Like I do".

But

the song is like a beautiful drive on a sunny day along a smooth curving treelined backroad.

really the guitar is beautiful and expressive. The story is fun. and the crowd is energizing. All around a good song, and for its type it is a classic.

So whatever negatives you connect with the song - are not the songs fault. You did say you really only liked Frampton for his curls anyways. Curls or no curls it deserves every bit of credit it gets, Trust me. If you dont like guitars your listening to the wrong song.

And The Wall.
similarly I listened to just a portion of the songs many being way too dreary for me. But here too are some great sounds and classic songs. To just mention two: the short but sweet guitar solo at the end of Comfortably numb is absolutely one of the most intense bursts of soul I have ever heard, and I know guitars and artistic expression, that one moment stands up to any great guitar moment. period.

And "Run Like Hell" is a galloping battalion of sound. No problems there.

I never got into FCA as a whole, 'Do You Feel' was as close as I got to being a fan.

Having been a fan of Pink Floyd (even dating back to Syd Barret, before you know, the whole thing with pulling a gun on his band mates during a concert, etc.), I will await your review of The Wall; while surely not as stupendous as Dark Side, I am hopeful you aren't terribly critical of it.

I actually think the wall is good. Good. Not Great. And the film really ruined it. I recall on the special DVD, Roger Waters mentioned that there is not one single smile or laugh in the entire movie. That's some seriously screwed up stuff

Can you name a single 'happy' PF song? Maybe 'See Emily Play' can be called 'happy', but beyond that....

I was sitting here wondering if one
great song on an otherwise average album
can make the album great.

I decided "yes".

Especially back in the day when the only way to get the song or the great version of the song was to buy the album.

Although unfair it seems to be true.

dontcha think?

re: The Wall

No other album is as satisfying to listen to while shaving all your body hair.

http://www.s92798080.onlinehome.us/blog/floyd.jpg

Try taking a razor blade to your eyebrows while listening to Katrina and the Waves ... go ahead ... just try.

Can you name a single 'happy' PF song?

Bike.

"Can you name a single 'happy' PF song?"

How about "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving It with a Pict"?

If you haven't slit your wrists or gone on a killing spree during the first part of 'Animals' - Pigs on the Wing Part 2 is happy.

Not ... you know ... Mike Oldfield 'On Horseback' happy, but upbeat, in the sense of not spirit-crushingly nihilistic.

Along the lines of Brainster's note, Ummagumma was my father's way of baptising me into the world of Floyd. He was on his third copy of the album when I was encouraged to give it an honest, headphones-only listening... the previous two he had literally worn the grooves out of.

That gives a certain amount of insight to my pre-pubescent years, I believe.

And as for Hotel California, I'm afraid to even get started. Henley and Co provided us with some of the most insipid, tedious and beige music I have ever encountered in my life. Talk about a band that had no eyebrows whatsoever. Vapid and bereft of emotion, yet irritatingly memorable...

Much like Southern California. Go figure.

Frampton may be pop garbage, but at least he's got pep and, dare I say it, a musical innovation (this was The Wad's first real exposure to a "talkbox"). The eagles just sound like day-old bathwater. Mellow can be Moving, but Stale is just that.

(sorry for that bitchy tirade... i just have a real hard-on for Henley's eradication from history)

San Tropez! They're like eating peaches in it and shit.

I'm going to nominate Paul McCartney's McCartney II album.

What an excrescence!

Outside of the Beatles, he'd never be considered a rock artist, but his predilection for pot squandered his ability to become a thinking songwriter.

Thankfully, Elvis Cosetllo stepped up and filled his place.

Norbi wrote:

Well, it is one of the top selling albums of all time, but I can't imagine a single music critic ever putting this on a top 10 list of anything. It just hit at the right craptacular time in the 70s, before punk and right at the end of the dominance of E-Z listenin', bloated rock.
[snip]

It's one of the Top Selling Albums of All Time because it was issued to everyone in the suburbs. Along with horrible oak veneer entertainment center piece o' crap furniture.

Or is this just MY experience?