Humble Pickings From A Rich Banquet
Peter Frampton joined the Herd at the tender age of 16, and soon was producing hits in the UK. When his friend Steve Marriott left the Small Faces, the pair decided to form Humble Pie, which again saw success with songs like I Don’t Need No Doctor, Hot n’ Tasty and 30 Days in the Hole.
However Frampton really became a household name with the stratospheric sales of the 1976 double album Frampton Comes Alive! For a while, however, his good looks and image overshadowed what he has always been: a great songwriter, an outstandingly talented guitarist and a genuinely lovely man. Here is Guitars Exchange’s pick of his best songs:
10. All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side) - Wind of Change (1972)
Frampton began to emerge as a major figure in his own right on his 1972 debut album Wind of Change, which featured ex-Beatle Ringo Starr and Rolling Stones’ keyboardist Billy Preston. The album contained a number of strong tracks, of which the acoustic All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side) stands out. The live version in our video selection was recorded at the Pine Knob Music Theater, Clarkson, Michigan 1999, and sees Frampton accompanied by keyboardist Bob Mayo, bassist John Regan and drummer Chad Cromwell.
9. Baby I Love Your Way - Frampton (1975)
Released in September 1975 Baby I Love Your Way originally appeared on Frampton’s fourth solo studio album. This gentle track has a strong sing-a-long hook that makes it a fan favourite at live concerts. However when Frampton was asked in 2017 by Washington representatives investigating Spotify and other streaming companies how much he made from over 50 million streams of this song, their jaws dropped when he gave them the answer: “1,700 dollars!”
8. Baby (Somethin's Happening) - Somethin's Happening (1974)
The title song to Frampton’s third studio album showcases his ability as a writer of great ballads. Frampton played nearly every instrument on the studio cut, including drums, with his skill on slide guitar in particular coming to the fore.
7. Restraint - Thank You Mr. Churchill (2010)
Restraint is a track that Frampton wrote with American songwriter Gordon Scott Kennedy and shows a darker facet to his work. The lyric seems to rail against unrestrained capitalists who live their lives in a ‘different kind of luxury’. As for the music, "that came to me while I was jamming on the couch, watching TV with the sound turned down. I noodle like that all the time. It was such an ominous riff. I think the 'D' may be tuned down. In any case, it's a low tuning. I was just jamming with some loops. A lot of the guitar parts on the album started in front of the TV, with the sound turned off," Frampton explained.
6. Lines On My Face – Camel’s Frampton (1973)
While this track first appeared on Frampton’s second solo album, it was on the two disk Frampton Comes Alive!, as the opener of the fourth side, that it really found its moment. On the famous cover of the album Frampton plays a customized 1954 Gibson Les Paul that was given to him during a concert by his friend Marc Mariana.
5. I'm in You - I'm In You (1977)
The title track from Frampton's fifth studio album sounds suggestive, but he insists he meant being "in" somebody in the spiritual sense, and when you watch the accompanying video of the song you might find yourself convinced by the explanation. Frank Zappa was having none of that when he riffed off it on his 1979 album Sheik Yerbouti, however; his far from spiritual interpretation is called I Have Been in You.
4. Nowhere's Too Far for My Baby - Frampton (1975)
The hook-laden and upbeat Nowhere's Too Far for My Baby is a hidden gem in Frampton’s back catalogue. In our video selection you can see the clasic line-up of his band - Stanley Sheldon, Bob Mayo and John Siomos – play a wonderful version on The Midnight Special.
3. (I'll Give You) Money - Frampton (1975)
This rocking number was another track that achieved greater prominence off the back of the success of Frampton’s double live album. The live performance of this song in Detroit sees the guitarist playing a Les Paul goldtop. The lyrics are naive and simple, but in some ways captures the youthful innocence and exuberance of first love: “I'll give you money, I'll give you lovin', Everything […] I'll give you sun and..., Lost all my money, I threw it all away, But now I'm happy.”
2. Show Me the Way - Frampton Comes Alive! (1976)
Frampton Comes Alive! provided the definitive version of this song, which is chosen here. It has been suggested the lyric refers to a man who is drowning – “I wonder how you're feeling, There's ringing in my ears, And no one to relate to 'cept the sea” - but it seems more likely to be a metaphor for being lost in love, and in 1976 Frampton confirmed this interpetation in an interview: "I just met somebody that gave me such confidence. My life is completely changed. All the lyrics in that song are about me and her."
1. Do You Feel Like We Do? - Frampton Comes Alive! (1976)
Originally from Frampton’s Camel album, like several others, this song’s best version is on the 1976 live album. The inspiration for the lyric reportedly came from his bandmates in the studio asking Frampton to add words to some acoustic guitar chords he was sharing with them, when he replied: "I can't, I have a really bad hangover." While the majority of the world might retreat into their shell at that point, Frampton responded by writing the immortal line about him having a wine glass by his side in the morning and wondering how it got there: "Whose wine? What wine? Where the hell did I dine?" Frampton later used a talkbox that was hooked up to his guitar that allowed him to ask the audience how they felt; and those words sent a chill up the spine and made a deep connection with nearly all who heard it. Play the live 10 minute plus version from our video selection at Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special, from around 1975, and enjoy the feast!