Peter Frampton was born to be a great guitarist. At age 16, he joined the Herd, who would score a couple of hits in their native England. He was soon all over the U.K. music papers, being called "The Face of 1968." Next, he joined forces with guitarist and vocalist Steve Marriott, who had just left the Small Faces. The duo formed one-half of one of the great hard rock bands of the era, Humble Pie. Their success, however, was nothing compared to what was in store for Frampton a few years down the road. The overwhelming success of his 1976 double album, Frampton Comes Alive!, was on a scale never dreamed of by the still-young musician. Those highest of highs would soon be followed by some pretty low lows. Through it all, however, Frampton remained a fierce force on the guitar. Decade later, he was still one of the most respected six-stringers out there, not to mention one of the more down-to-earth rockers, as well.
'All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side)'From: 'Wind of Change' (1972)
Frampton left Humble Pie in 1971 just as their legendary Rockin' the Fillmore album was making them a household name. With his 1972 debut, Wind of Change, he established his musical identity on an album full of great songs, with an A-list of guests including Ringo Starr and Billy Preston. One of the high spots on the LP is without question "All I Wanna Be (Is by Your Side"). The slow groover doesn't stray too far from the material Frampton contributed to those early Humble Pie albums, but with an added air of confidence to the mix. The slightly hazy mood of the song is enhanced by some choice guitar work.
'White Sugar'From: 'Frampton's Camel' (1973)
With his 1973 album Frampton's Camel, Frampton tried to move things more into a band direction, naming the album after his band. Though the point would prove to be moot, the album is rock solid. "White Sugar" is a rowdy rock and roll number that sounds like an outtake from a Faces album with it's rollicking barroom feel and attitude. Is it about a woman? Drugs? Excess? You decide. This rocker still shows up in live sets to this day.
'Baby (Somethin's Happening)'From: 'Somethin's Happening' (1974)
The title cut to 1974's Somethin's Happening and No. 8 on our list of the Top 10 Peter Frampton Songs, finds the man sounding more and more sure of his every step. The harmonies are front and center here, the production – handled by Frampton – is crisp and fresh, with some very nice slide guitar fitting the song perfectly. After the full-band approach of Frampton's Camel, Frampton decided to play nearly every instrument, including some of the drum parts, on Somethin's Happening.
'Apple of Your Eye'From: 'Frampton' (1975)
The fourth solo album, simply titled Frampton, was released in early-1975, and would ultimately set the stage for his massive takeover the following year. The album is without question his strongest solo effort, containing the original studio versions of many of the songs that would prove to be gold for him in the live setting. One, however, that missed that golden chariot was this gem.In its three and a half minutes of glory, "Apple of Your Eye" shows his skills as a concise songwriter as well as an ace guitarist.
'Dig What I Say'From: 'Breaking All the Rules' (1981)
By 1981, Frampton had been hung out to dry. He had tumbled hard from the pedestal of fame, especially after the Sgt. Pepper movie mess. But instead of retreating into despair, he opted to rock out. Breaking All the Rules saw a fire in his playing that had been missing, certainly drowned in part by the teen pin-up success of things like "I'm In You." With the lead-off song, "Dig What I Say," the guitar was back up to full volume and the rock was rolling again. Frampton was in the midst of finding himself once again, and rockers like this one were going a long way to repair any damage caused by '70s excesses.
'It's a Plain Shame'From: 'Wind of Change' (1972)
With a mighty guitar riff, "It's a Plain Shame" kicks right into gear. The Rolling Stones-y verses give way to the more Beatles-y chorus. A wonderful, yet understated lead break is icing on the cake. Clocking in at just over three minutes, it should have been a hit, but it was relegated to the flip side of his version of "Jumpin' Jack Flash," which, while very good, could never rival the Stones original. So you could say it's a plain shame that "It's a Plain Shame" never made the A-side.
'(I'll Give You) Money'From: 'Frampton' (1975)
One of his heaviest rockers, and No. 4 on our list of the Top 10 Peter Frampton Songs, is the centerpiece of his 1975 Frampton album. Brought to full glory with powerhouse guitar work, "(I'll Give You) Money" calls back to the power and glory he brought to Humble Pie. It would have been something to hear Steve Marriott tackle this one. The song would quickly become a highlight of his live shows, and was featured prominently on Frampton Comes Alive! This album marked the first real signs of success as a solo artist.
'Show Me the Way'From: 'Frampton Comes Alive!' (1976)
Frampton Comes Alive! was simply a monster of an album that seemed to spring from almost nothing. His previous album, Frampton, was a modest hit, breaking into the U.S. Top 40, but in no way prepared anyone for what was to follow. Though a studio version of "Show Me the Way" had been released in 1975, it wasn't until this live version was issued in early 1976 that it took off, ultimately hitting No. 6. It remains one of his best-loved and most recognized songs, and has more than stood the test of time, voice box gimmick and all.
'Nowhere's Too Far for My Baby'From: 'Frampton' (1975)
Ounce for ounce, "Nowhere's Too Far for My Baby" is probably the finest song Frampton ever wrote. With a super-catchy verse, dynamic chorus and minor key bridge, it's Peter at his most Badfinger-esque, Beatle-ish. The song should have been a huge hit, but, for some reason, it was never even released as a single. Regardless, it rings out with a joyous vibrancy that has no equal in his catalog, which is matched up by stinging guitars.
'Do You Feel Like We Do'From: 'Frampton Comes Alive!' (1976)
The No. 1 song on our list of the Top 10 Peter Frampton Song, "Do You Feel Like We Do," is the epitome of '70s concert jams. First off, the riff is a killer that snakes around your brain over and over again, second of all, and most importantly, it rocks. A six-minute version closed out the 1973 album Frampton's Camel, but it wasn't until the song was given the full-length in concert treatment and stretched out to 15 minutes did it really fly. FM radio everywhere made it a mandatory play, especially in the late evenings. The breakdown section allowed him to show off the talk box which, gimmick aside, features some of the man's most blistering lead guitar. The power and the glory of the track is still intact years on and even though radio rarely plays the entire, unedited version, the radio edit is still a staple on most classic rock stations.