Picks and Pans Review: When All the Pieces Fit

updated 11/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Peter Frampton

He's back.

Almost everyone had written off Frampton a long time ago. But this catchy, crafty collection, the first album he has turned out in three years, proves there's life in the fair-haired boy of the '70s yet. Frampton co-produced When All the Pieces Fit with Chris Lord-Alge, the brother of Tom Lord-Alge, who helped resuscitate the career of Steve Winwood, another aging, seemingly moribund rocker, with Back in the High Life. Surely Lord-Alge deserves a good deal of credit for making this Frampton's most cohesive album since Frampton Comes Alive in 1975.

Yes, it's full of sturdy, bracing pop-rock numbers such as "Holding On to You," "Back to the Start" and "More Ways Than One." But even a lesser song like "My Heart Goes Out to You" gets a mechanical giddyap beat grafted onto it that makes it irresistible, and a nifty little cosmetic trick like that is usually the mark of a good producer.

Frampton remains one of the most fluid, spirited guitarists in rock. In recent years, however, he has displayed the annoying habit of hiding that light under a bushel on his records. The bonus on When All the Pieces Fit is that his guitar is shown off to greater advantage than on any album since he left Humble Pie 18 years ago. Nearly every song contains a ringing solo. There's still that little-boy-lost quality to his voice, but it's only hard to take on the lounge-act sappy "This Time Around," Hey, the fact that he can still sound remotely boyish at this stage in his career is an accomplishment in itself. (Atlantic)

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