Picks and Pans Review: The Art of Control
Frampton must have had a yuck or two coming up with the title to this album, since control is hardly the point. Sleepwalk is a lament for those who can't rest because they've been on a cocaine jag. An Eye for an Eye is a fantasy about romantic revenge. Barbara's Vacation focuses on a girl who "lives on Valium and orange juice" and seems to be taking her R&R in the Twilight Zone. The most telling tune is Back to Eden, a treatise on regaining one's innocence. Frampton certainly seemed to be cast out of the Garden when his career and personal life hit the skids after a moment in the spotlight in the mid-'70s, when his Frampton Comes Alive racked up sales of 10 million. He hasn't had a hit since 1977 and still pending is the 1979 palimony suit filed by then girlfriend Penny McCall. Musically, Frampton, now 32, does seem more in control here than he has been in recent years. He started out an expert guitar player-vocalist with Humble Pie, and he's honed those skills. He's also teamed up with ex-Cretone lyricist Mark Goldenberg, whose best-known works are three new-wave tunes on Linda Ronstadt's uncharacteristic Mad Love LP. The result shows a nice black sense of humor that darkens Frampton's sunny guitar playing with interesting lyrical storm clouds.