Albums

$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
$11.49

Crossover - Released May 13, 1981 | Rhino Atlantic

Depends strictly on your feeling regarding The Beatles. ~ Ron Wynn
$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.

$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
$4.99

Crossover - Released November 22, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

$18.99

Crossover - Released November 19, 2012 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

The success of Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which opened at the Nederlander Theater on Broadway on May 12, 1981, and ran 333 performances, until June 30, 1982 (Horne's 65th birthday) was a cumulative one. Horne had been performing in nightclubs, theaters, and casinos for 40 years, singing many of the same songs she sang at the Nederlander, but somehow the Broadway context and her perseverance combined to make this more than a glorified club act. Horne had the benefit of being an artist who had faced adversity (particularly, the vicissitudes of being an African-American star in Hollywood in the 1940s) and, if not triumphed, at least persisted, so that, as she reached her golden age, her struggles within the entertainment business could be seen as heroic. And, she was still at it, which made her, in the nomenclature of the time, a "survivor." That earned her gales of applause from theatergoers who had made the journey with her and from new fans who were too young to remember her and were discovering her anew. The show made some attempt to at least trace the outlines of Horne's career from being a Cotton Club chorus girl in the 1930s to a movie star in the '40s. After a clutch of initial songs, an announcer made a Cotton Club announcement, and there was a short dramatic scene featuring several other performers who gave Horne a breather by doing a few numbers. Otherwise, she periodically interrupted the run of songs for personal reminiscences about her career as introductions to songs with which she was associated from her movie and previous Broadway musical appearances. The bulk of the show, however, was given over to her typically moving interpretations of classic songs by Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Harold Arlen, and others. Among the new material, there was an emphasis on songs about endurance and self-reliance, in keeping with the overall theme, notably the Jim Croce hit "I Got a Name" and Paul Williams' "Life Goes On," both of which were turned into showstoppers. But then, the show was one showstopper after another, and a fitting capper to a great career. ~ William Ruhlmann
$17.99
$15.49

Crossover - Released July 7, 2017 | Real Gone Music

Hi-Res
Following her split with husband and creative partner Louis Prima, vocalist Keely Smith signed with Frank Sinatra's Reprise Records for a series of finely curated and well-received albums designed to showcase her voice and relaunch her career. The first of these, 1963's Little Girl Blue/Little Girl New, featured arrangements by Sinatra's longtime collaborator, the illustrious Nelson Riddle, and was conceptualized in two parts with Side A, "Little Girl Blue," featuring ballads and Side B, "Little Girl New," focusing on more upbeat numbers. The result was a tour de force of an album that presented Smith as the solo star she deserved to be -- and which Sinatra had known she could be for many years prior. Thankfully, as per all of Sinatra's Reprise contracts, the artists kept the rights to the master recordings, which is where they remained until Smith struck her own deal with Real Gone Music for a series of reissues, including this 2017 expanded edition of Little Girl Blue/Little Girl New. Though she had recorded solo albums for Dot during her years with Prima, she had been somewhat overshadowed by the kitschy, flamboyant tone (and Grammy-winning success) of their performances, which often found her playing the cheeky straight man to her trumpeter husband's swing-era clown. Afforded far greater freedom on Sinatra's label, she was presented on Little Girl Blue/Little Girl New as an urbanely sophisticated hipster and a clarion diva in the mold of such similarly inclined contemporaries as June Christy, Anita O'Day, and Kay Starr. Cuts like her yearning take on "Here's That Rainy Day" and her languorously sensual reading of "I'll Never Be the Same Again" reveal her as a mature and knowing performer in contrast to the lighter, more comedic tone of her work with Prima. That said, she can still knock 'em dead as she does on the latter half of the album, her highly resonant voice slicing through uptempo swinger's like "I'm Gonna Live 'til I Die" and "I've Got a Lot of Livin' to Do." Ultimately, listening to Smith and her pointed yet dusky, golden-toned voice pouring out of Riddle's shimmering, sky-blue arrangements, one can easily see why Sinatra jumped at the chance to work with her. ~ Matt Collar
$8.99

Crossover - Released July 26, 2005 | Rhino - Elektra

$15.49

Crossover - Released June 30, 1975 | Rhino Atlantic

In a sense, Bobby Short was only doing what he'd been doing for decades when he recorded a double LP of Cole Porter songs in 1971. But somehow, the reaction was different. The album actually spent a couple of months in the pop charts in the late winter and early spring of 1972, and its comparative commercial success "made me think for a moment that I'd actually become a recording star," he later noted. He hadn't, but he had consolidated his status as the premiere cabaret performer of his time, holding forth every season from the elegant Café Carlyle on New York's Upper East Side. Porter had always been a constant in his shows and recordings, but this album was something special, a collection largely made up of the songwriter's more obscure efforts, including three unpublished songs -- "By Candlelight," "Once Upon a Time," and "Why Don't We Try Staying Home" -- as well as the usually unperformed introductory verses to many songs, such as the witty compendium of historical figures that introduced "Just One of Those Things." Of course, not all the songs were winners, but they all had the sparkle of Porter's wit, which was brought out effectively by Short's smooth tenor, well-placed emphases, and precise pronunciation. Porter was the voice of wealth and sophistication in interwar show music, and Short's interpretations rendered his sentiments with just the right combination of zest and humor. Thus, the public may have responded more to this Short album than to others just because he had played to his strengths more than on any other effort. ~ William Ruhlmann
$7.99

Crossover - Released February 17, 2004 | Warner Music Canada

$15.49

Crossover - Released October 14, 2016 | Real Gone Music

Crossover - Released April 20, 2004 | WM Malaysia

Download not available