10 Albums That Changed My Life: Chris Frantz

Drummer Chris Frantz, a founding member of both the Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club, gives Goldmine his list of the 10 albums that changed his life forever ... and why!
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Courtesy of Chris Frantz

Courtesy of Chris Frantz

Drummer Chris Frantz is a founding member of Talking Heads, one of the most original and successful bands of the ’80s post-punk era. He provided the backbeat for such classics as “Burning Down The House,” “Psycho Killer” and “Once in a Lifetime” (to name only a few). During the mid-’70s, Talking Heads formed in New York City and took up residence at the famed CBGB club, which would start the path to a record deal, radio airplay, world tours and ultimately induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Along with Frantz’s bandmate and wife, Tina Weymouth, the couple also released six titles (from 1981 to 2012) as Tom Tom Club, which produced more radio play with “Genius of Love” and “Wordy Rappinghood.”

Talking Heads would release 10 albums (including two “live” releases) between 1977 and 1988, they remain a staple on classic rock radio and have gone on to sell more than 10 million albums worldwide.

Recently, Frantz gave Goldmine the 10 albums that changed his life.

— Joe Milliken

  

The Beach Boys, Surfin’ USA

The Beach Boys, Surfin’ USA

I never actually surfed, but The Beach Boys’ music made me feel as if I had. I had not been to California either, but their music made me feel as if I had been. There was something about their records that was not only fun, but inclusive. Sitting in my bedroom in Pittsburgh, I was transported to those sunny beaches.

   

James brown LIVE LP-1200x1200

James Brown, Live At The Apollo

I was introduced to this album by a classmate at boarding school, who took one look at my record collection and realized that something was missing... that something was soul music. This album was a revelation to me and led to my lifelong love of James Brown and his band’s music.

  

Otis Redding, Dictionary of Soul

Otis Redding, Dictionary of Soul

Like James Brown, Otis Redding opened the door for me to funky southern soul and the Memphis sound of Stax Records — which also included Booker T. & The MG’s, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas and The Staple Singers. Motown was all over the radio at the time and I loved that, too, but it was Redding and that funky Memphis sound that really got me hooked.

  

The Beatles, Meet The Beatles

The Beatles, Meet The Beatles!

I remember hearing “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on the radio while riding in the back of my friend’s station wagon. His mother, who was behind the wheel, turned it up loud... Moms loved The Beatles, too! Not long after, The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and it seemed the entire country was beguiled by them. Today, people talk about the popularity of Taylor Swift or Billie Eilish, but Beatlemania was so powerful that no artist today can even compare.

  

The Rolling Stones, Out of Our Heads

The Rolling Stones, Out of Our Heads

Just when I discovered The Beatles and been totally captivated by their music and charisma, along came The Rolling Stones. If The Beatles were sweet and clean, The Stones were naughty and nasty. Their music was completely based on blues and they had a badass, hip-shakin’ vibe. When “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” hit the airwaves, it was all over for me and I was a serious fan.

  

Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisted

Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited

I remember reading that Dylan’s lyrics elevated the popular song to the level of fine art. There was a certain beatnik, literary hipness about him. “Like A Rolling Stone” captured my attention from the first crack of the snare drum at the top of the song. I think I memorized all the lyrics to this album by heart, then I discovered his previous folk albums. Dylan’s voice was not exactly what radio programmers were looking for, but one day, Boom! Even The Beatles were looking to him.

   

David Bowie, The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust

David Bowie, The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust

I was an art student at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) when this album came out. As soon as I heard a couple songs played on WBRU FM, I went to the record store and bought it. I played it a lot in my apartment and every song on the album is great. What a singer, what a persona, and what a band! This record was a game-changer!

  

Lou Reed, Transformer

Lou Reed, Transformer

“Walk on the Wild Side,” which was written and sung by Lou, arranged by Mick Ronson and produced by David Bowie, was a megahit. The risqué theme is complimented by a beautifully performed sliding bass, drums with brushes and ethereal background vocals. I’ve loved it from the first listen, and the rest of the album is marvelous, too.

  

The Harder They Come – Soundtrack

Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come

This was my introduction to reggae music. Tina (Weymouth) and I drove from Providence to Boston to see a screening of the film starring Jimmy Cliff. The Jamaican patois spoken was so incomprehensible to Americans that the film had subtitles. This amazing soundtrack of reggae greats including Cliff, Desmond Dekker and Toots and The Maytals was something I’d been waiting to hear without realizing it. It was a new form of expression.

  

Kraftwerk, Autobahn

Kraftwerk, Autobahn

In 1974, Tina and I helped organize a day trip to New York City for a group of us RISD painting students. At the end of the day and before driving home, we entered the Spring Street Bar and ordered a couple beers. There was an old jukebox and someone had played the same song for the entire time we were there. It sounded new and interesting, robotic and classically romantic at the same time.