The problem with being on top of the world is it’s hard to go upwards! Peter Frampton found that out in 1977 – although on this day 44 years back, perhaps that wasn’t clear to him yet. The title track of his fifth studio album, I’m In You got to #2 on the Billboard singles chart, the highest any of his singles ever got. The song actually got to top the Canadian charts, but true to form was met with more indifference in his homeland, missing the top 40 entirely in the UK. The blonde guitar wiz had been more popular in North America than Britain dating back to the early days of his early-’70s band, Humble Pie. Little surprise then that he was residing most of the time in the U.S. and recorded most of I’m In You in New York.
I’m In You came out just about two years after his previous studio album, the self-titled Frampton. More significantly though, it came out a year and change after his breakthrough live, double album Frampton Comes Alive which had put him on the musical map. That album had gone 6X platinum in the U.S. and dominated both AM radio (with singles like “Show Me the Way”) and FM rock channels (with the long, talkbox-featuring “Do You Feel Like We Do?”) He’d risen from obscurity to a sex symbol and one of the major concert attractions in America’s Bicentennial year.
Following up that kind of hit is a challenge, and more so when pressed for time, as Peter surely was trying to do a major tour and write a new album simultaneously. As allmusic pointed out, Frampton’s approach was “clear that (he) was exploring new sides” to his talent. He utilized a lot more keyboards on this one than past efforts (most of which he played himself) and called on some of his high-power friends like Stevie Wonder and Mick Jagger to help out. Mick actually sings backup on this single, although it wasn’t as clearly heard as it was on “Tried to Love” on the record.
The song “I’m In you” was a likable little love song, which Frampton insists was meant to be speaking more spiritually or metaphorically than physically, despite ribald jokes aplenty about it. Mind you, I’m sure many young women liked imagining it the other way… Peter was indeed one of the hot male sex symbols of the era, which was played up by the album cover with him in tight leather pants and an open shirt. Allmusic consider the song “a high point” but correctly assume “it was inevitable (it) would be thought of as a letdown” after the huge success he’d had the previous year.
The next single off it was a cover of Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” which had Stevie himself joining Peter, but it was met with lukewarm response and after that, Peter was more or less consigned to the label of aging-has been. That’s something he seems to take in stride, joking at times that when TV shows call he responds with something like “let me guess – you want me to be a grumpy, bitter old rocker, right?” with a laugh. Hopefully he’ll maintain the sense of humor as he’s suffering from a muscular disease called myositis which makes playing difficult. In 2019 he put out an album of blues music and did what he says will be his final tour; last year he published a memoir, Do You Feel Like I Do?