Legendary guitarist Peter Frampton (Ex-Humble Pie) elected in an interview with The Quietus back in 2013 his 13 favorite albums of all time. The selected music shows the range of the musician’s taste and the variety of his influences.
Guitarist Peter Frampton and his 13 favorite albums of all time:
The Shadows “The Shadows”
“The day my father brought home our first record player he brought home two albums, and this was one of them. I’d been listening to all The Shadows’ singles, their instrumental hits, up until that point. This was pre-Beatles and I’ve always thought that, at least for me, they were the instrumental Beatles because it was so incredibly pervasive amongst anyone who wanted to play guitar or who loved the sound of guitar. It was our first homegrown three guitars and drums band. Their sound was what inspired me to want to start playing electric guitar.”
Django Reinhardt “Django In Rome 1949/50 CD/C”
“I had to root through iTunes in order to find this particular album. That same day that my dad came home with that record player, he’d brought the Shadows for me and Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli in the Hot Club de France for him and my mum. That was the music that they listened to and danced to before and during the Second World War.”
“This was what would be on when they went up to London and went to a dance club. So, apart from being something that was very listenable to them – not to me when I first heard it, but to them – there was this incredible guitar player who has been touted as the best guitar player ever. I sort of put him up there myself…”
The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
“This was so anticipated by everybody. I remember going up to London with my girlfriend to Petticoat Lane, where there’s a weekend morning market, and we were just rooting around. It was the week before Sgt. Pepper’s… came out and we found a store, which was obviously illegal, that had got quite a bunch of Sgt. Pepper’s… a week before it was released.”
“I think the story goes that a lorry was ripped off and a lot of Beatles albums were stolen. So we got to buy – at full price I may say – Sgt. Pepper’s… a week before it came out. We drove home as fast as we could and I remember sitting on the floor of my girlfriend’s parents’ house and having the album on repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.”
Cream “Fresh Cream”
“I was in a band called The Herd and we were recording a day session in 1966 at this studio in New Bond Street called Rymuse Studios. Our engineer was going straight into an evening session with this ‘supergroup’ with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, all from great bands already. This was the first release after Blues Breakers which was the John Mayall album that really declared Eric Clapton as “God””
“It was written in graffiti all over England at the time “Clapton is God”. So God was going to join a band now [laughs], and he formed Cream. Anyway, they came in the studio after us and we would get stories the next day about how the sessions went and everything because we were all huge fans of the three of them.”
“I think this is a memory lane kind of thing for me; it’s not necessarily their best album and there are tracks that I like even better, but this was the birth of Cream, and this is the top one for me. The tracks are great! ‘I’m So Glad’, etc. They’re all so good. It was the first time I was really interested in Jack Bruce and Pete Brown’s songwriting. It was great stuff.”
Stevie Wonder “For Once In My Life”
“I think this was an album that a lot of people missed. It had singles on it, but it’s so deep this album. We were playing it the other day. Obviously the big hit singles were ‘For Once In My Life’ and ‘Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day’ [laughs] those were the two big singles. But on this record it happens to be the Funk Brothers’, the Motown band, peak for me and my friends.”
Miles Davis “Kind Of Blue”
“It’s sort of like the Sgt. Pepper’s… of the day when it came out. I think it’s the biggest-selling jazz album of all time, I could be wrong, but if it’s not it should be because you’ve got such incredible players on it. When you list those players it’s like a who’s who of each instrument.”
“I’m a huge fan of all of these people in their own right, but to get them all on an album together with Miles… for those who weren’t listening to Frank Sinatra to smooch with their dates at the time, this would be the record to do it to.”
The Beach Boys “Wild Honey”
“The Beach Boys, though their vocal arrangements are phenomenal and that’s what catches the ear from the very early stuff onwards, was about Brian Wilson and how he was this incredible producer. I think he was in a little bit of a race with The Beatles to make the most innovative sounding music that he could.”
“The other album I was going to pick was Pet Sounds but everybody picks that one because it was their Sgt. Pepper’s… in a way, you know, it had the tracks that we all know on there. But this album, I love so much because it’s very dry sounding for them and also Carl Wilson does a lot of the singing on it and he’s my favourite Beach Boys voice,” Peter Frampton said.
JJ Cale “Naturally”
“It was so different and so laid back and his voice is almost whispering on this album – in fact he is at some points on the album. I think it’s the feel, his voice and again the guitar playing; it’s so seductive, I think that’s a good word for it, for JJ’s style. It was simplistic but very seductive. If I don’t have a great guitar sound, I can’t play.”
“The sound of what I’m playing has to be great to start with to inspire me to play, and I found his guitar style and sound, especially on this album, set a tone for a lot of other people to start working on how he found it.”
Jeff Beck “Jeff Beck With The Jan Hammer Group Live”
“It was so hard to choose a Jeff Beck record because there are so many great ones. I chose this because it was right during the period when he started doing these wonderful albums, like a trilogy of instrumental albums. Some of this was with Jan and I guess they decided to go out on tour and do some of this material.”
“Hearing Jeff live is just something else, I mean I’ve seen him many times. Just when you think you have him down, you see him live and he’s moved on somewhere else. He totally reinvents himself as a guitar player all the time,” Peter Frampton said.
Wes Montgomery “Smokin’ At The Half Note”
“This is with Wynton Kelly who is also on Kind Of Blue. I love his piano playing immensely. Wes Montgomery was another innovative player because he didn’t use a pick. He used his thumb and fingers to play, which gave his guitar a warmer sound than most whereas Django played with a very, very thick and heavy pick to get that very percussive sound.”
“Wes Montgomery was the total opposite with this ultra warm sound that was very fluid. The man could do a solo of just chords; he was just the master of that. I think a lot of jazz players, or any kind of guitar player really, find listening to him very inspiring no matter what style you play.”
Muddy Waters “The Chess Box”
“I chose this one because it’s got him and Little Walter the harp player. The early stuff is great, but Little Walter’s harp playing with Muddy Waters is some of the best blues harmonica playing ever recorded I think. With this and Muddy Waters’ incredible voice and playing, it was such a standard. Nobody played like Muddy and nobody sang like Muddy and he came up with all these incredible blues songs,” Peter Frampton said.
Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On”
“This is one of the last ‘snake pit’ albums, where the Funk Brothers are playing on it before Motown moved to LA. I think it was, well, I use Sgt. Pepper’s… as a standard for when an artist just goes off and does something totally incredible, but this was Marvin’s. Motown didn’t even want to release the record because it was so different, but I think it was his biggest record ever!”
Albert King “The Ultimate Collection”
“I had the one with all the Stax stuff, which I love, with Booker T And The MGs as his back-up band, but there was stuff before that and stuff after. It’s just everything, he was so innovative. He used an open tuning for playing guitar and I think he played left-handed, I mean no one could pick this man’s guitar up. I did get to see him in Chicago playing live before he passed away. He is the reason that Stevie Ray Vaughan had a guitar style because this was his favourite player,” Peter Frampton said.