Albums

$12.99

Crossover - Released December 12, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

$11.49

Crossover - Released December 12, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

$12.99

Crossover - Released December 12, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

$12.99

Crossover - Released December 12, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

While on first listen Michael Franks' Passion Fruit appears to convey a jazz fusion approach, the inclusion of such contributors as Naná Vasconcelos, Astrud Gilberto and Toots Thielemans actually shows it to be a further continuation of Franks' championing of Brazilian music, with a light and deft touch. As on his previous outing, for which he brought in guest vocalists (Bonnie Raitt, Luther Vandross and Randy VanWarmer), on this album he enlists vocalist Kenny Rankin as well as Gilberto. This time, though, the vocalists appear to be a more natural fit. "Amazon," "Rainy Night in Tokyo" and "How the Garden Grows" reveals some of his best writing in some time, while "Now That Your Joystick's Broke" wouldn't be out of place lyrically alongside some of his clever, earlier songs. ~ Steve Matteo
$11.49

Crossover - Released December 12, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

$11.49

Crossover - Released December 12, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

With Tommy LiPuma and Al Schmitt back producing, Michael Franks again moves in a different direction on One Bad Habit, with mixed results. Easily considered his commercial breakthrough, the album often lacks the lyrical and imaginative songwriting of previous efforts and sounds at times like two different albums. The contributions of Clare and Andre Fischer help bolster some of the more ambitious music, while players like Eddie Gómez, Eric Gale and David Spinozza at times appear underutilized. The title cut is another example of Franks' wry, observant takes on love and lust, yet musically it is a little lightweight. Still, considering the players, the occasionally adventurous musical ideas, and the basic jazz sound, Franks was able to go where very few jazz artists ever go in terms of attracting a larger audience and considerable airplay. ~ Steve Matteo
$10.49

Crossover - Released December 12, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

$12.99

Crossover - Released December 12, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

$11.49

Crossover - Released December 12, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

$11.49

Crossover - Released December 12, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Skin Dive marked the first time that Michael Franks appeared to be alternately running out of steam, repeating himself, and moving far afield from his unique jazz-pop hybrid. While this self-produced effort includes some fine playing from the usual cast of jazz pros, and the song "Your Secret's Safe with Me" has the perfect melding of jazz and pop, much of the rest of the music comes across as a bit too sparse and musically, many of the songs are not sufficiently fleshed out. Franks' musical personality still shines, but the wonderful musicians gathered together never really get to contribute in any way that makes for musical sparks. ~ Steve Matteo
$11.49

Crossover - Released December 12, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

After his debut on the tiny Brut Records (a short-lived record label of the famous cologne company), Michael Franks established both his unique sound and a recording process he has continued throughout his career. Primarily a jazz artist, Franks crossed over to pop and rock fans through heavy FM airplay beginning with The Art of Tea. Sensually suggestive and playful tracks, such as "Popsicle Toes" and "Eggplant" contain sly wordplay and almost Henry Mancini-like, breezy jazz-pop. Employing a similar approach as Steely Dan did with its music, Franks' singing and songwriting formed the basis of a sound rooted in the support of top-notch musicians, many of whom were the hottest studio jazz players on the scene. Here, the killer rhythm section of drummer John Guerin and bassist Wilton Felder is augmented by horn pros Michael Brecker and David Sanborn, with Franks and Larry Carlton handling all the guitar work. This winning combination of players, styles, singing, and songwriting would be reshuffled and refined over the years, but perhaps with no finer results than on this official major label debut. ~ Steve Matteo