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    Michael Franks

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    Genre:Jazz, Funk
    3.0/5 from 1 users

    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1Samba Do Soho lyrics
    2Inside You lyrics
    3I Love Lucy lyrics
    4I Surrender lyrics
    5Eighteen Aprils lyrics
    6Blue Pacific lyrics
    7The Critics Are Never Kind lyrics
    All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go lyrics
    The Lady Wants To Know lyrics
    10Rendezvous In Rio lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    The Best Of Michael Franks: A Backward Glance [2008]
    Barefoot On The Beach [1999]
    3Randezvous In Rio [2009]
    4Love Songs [2004]
    5Michael Franks Anthology: Art Of Love [2008]
    6Watching The Snow
    7Objects Of Desire [1982]
    8Sleeping Gypsy [2008]
    9Dragonfly Summer [1993]
    The Art Of Tea


    Born in sunny South California, Franks started playing guitar at the age of fourteen. Later he matriculated to the UCLA, studied English literature and commenced writing his own songs. He played with a few high school bands, and part-time performed in local clubs. He, however, did not abandon academia, got several masters, and eventually penned the dissertation "Contemporary Songwriting and How It Relates to Society". He taught a course in the history of popular song at the UCLA and Berkley. A dream of Michael came true when three of his songs were recorded by Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, even getting John Mayall to join those two artists for the track "White Boy Lost in the Blues" (for which Franks' accompanied on acoustic guitar as well). 1973 saw the release of his self-titled debut album which unfortunately had only limited distribution (on Brut Productions). One year later he contributed soundtrack music for the Warner Bros. film Zandy's Bride (with Liv Ullman and Gene Hackman). Warner liked his musical works and offered him a recording contract.

    Michael's first album for Warner Brothers, produced by the legendary Tommy LiPuma, enjoyed the contribution of Crusaders' members (including guitarist Larry Carlton) and already spawned a few evergreens of what would become a decade-long recording career. Recorded live on three dates only, The Art of Tea already marked at this early stage what would become a unique jazz style for the talented singer/songwriter. In 1977 Sleeping Gypsy hit the market, again recorded using the LiPuma/Crusaders input but also adding Brazilian musicians and including the Franks' classic "The Lady Wants To Know". At that time he also joined sessions with top-jazzists such as Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, Eddie Gomez, and Bucky Pizzarelli. Since 1978 he published one hit album each year: Burchfield Nines (1978), Tiger in the Rain (1979) and One Bad Habit (1980). Concerts in Sydney/Australia and Auckland/New Zealand together with the Aussie band Crossfire were recorded and saw release as ... with Crossfire / Live (1980). Michael's next studio album Objects of Desire (1982) is evidence for a huge development, adding a tighter instrumentation to the songs, apparently also influenced by producer Michael Colina (who, as a solo artist and keyboard player, seems to have had his impact as well). The session—č were again accompanied by a stunning gathering of musical talent: Andy Newmark (drums), Michael Brecker (saxophones), Mark Egan (bass), Victor Feldman (percussion), to name just a few. During these recording sessions Michael also met keyboard player Rob Mounsey, who signed responsible for the production of the 1983 album Passionfruit. Consequently, it showcases Michael's voice embedded in more keyboard sounds and funky arrangements than on any previous release. The cooperation with Mounsey persisted for the next long-player, Skin Dive. For the opener of that album, the funky "Read My Lips", famous bass player Marcus Miller was recruited alongside with other well-known names of the recording-studio scene. With "When I Give My Love To You" the album also contains a beautiful duet on which Michael was joined by Brenda Russell. In 1987 the album The Camera Never Lies ended the trilogy of Mounsey-produced long-players, again using a long string of the finest players available (i.e. saxophonist Bill Evans, Patti Austin on background vocals, guitarist Steve Khan etc.) and contributions such as Art Garfunkel singing background vocals on the title track.

    At this point Warner Brothers decided to release a first compilation of Franks' works, which yielded the greatest hits compilation Indispensable: Best of (1988). After his collaborations with producer Rob Mounsey Michael decided to take more time to prepare his well thought out compositions, to compose his peppy lyrical songs and to cooperate more with other artists, among them his contribution to the Joe Sample (an original member of The Crusaders) solo album Spellbound for Warner Brothers. On this album Franks' sang one of the two tracks ("Leading Me Back To You") he had co-composed (for the other song, "Somehow Our Love Survives", Al Jarreau contributed vocals, another Tommy LiPuma protegee for decades). His next studio album after three years, Blue Pacific (1990), was a change in his approach to compile a new album: three different production teams were instrumental in recording Franks' new compositions, led on by Jeff Lorber, again studio veteran Tommy LiPuma, and former Steely Dan member Walter Becker. Nevertheless, Franks' sound hardly changed, but probably became even a little more versatile through the broader talents used this way.

    In November 1991 our hero unexpectedly appeared on a live recording of the Yellowjackets, singing the track "The Dream" on the live recording Live Wires. That song is unusually powerful considering Franks' circumstances, but apparently it was also a great success for Michael, because he re-recorded it for his next own album. But Michael never solely focussed on his own typical style. He joined rapper Me Phi Me for the track "Where Are You Going?" on the 1992 album One. After that, he prepared his own next studio album: Dragonfly Summer (1993) again saw him record with different production teams (this time with four different crews) the Yellowjackets amongst them. Additionally, the producer's skills of Jeff Lorber, Gil Goldstein and Ben Sidran were used. Anyhow, the success of his late 70s/80s records seemed to wane and so Abandoned Garden (1995) was his last brand new release after twenty years for Warner Brothers. One more publication for Warner Brother was contained on the Christmas sampler produced by Matt Pierson, Jazz Christmas Party (1997). Hereon Franks contributed his "I Bought You A Plastic Star For Your Aluminum Tree". He also joined Astrud Gilberto in that year, but the pertinent recording never saw release outside of Japan. The record company next used the extensive song catalog of Michael for another compilation release in May 1998, The Best of Michael Franks: A Backward Glance. The end of the decade saw Michael launch his own homepage through which he could get in touch with his fans internationally through the new medium internet.

    Michael then got signed by the Winham Hill label where he published Barefoot on the Beach in summer '99. Even though apparently recorded under different circumstances, this album neither saw a change in style nor a change in how Michael used the best talents available for his music: Separately produced by Chuck Loeb and Jimmy Haslip (of the Yellowjackets), Barefoot ... contains some of Michael's best songs for years. Rumor has it that Michael also worked on a musical about French painter Paul Gaugain for years, of whom he already used a motive for the cover art work of Objects of Desire. Michael shares Gaugin's love for Hawaiian motives, but no songs of the supposed musical ever surfaced. Through his homepage fans could follow Michael's touring activities (a lot of which was done in Japan) and eventually the completion of Watching the Snow (2003), the first album which he distributed through his own homepage, co-produced by Michael himself and Charles Blenzig. This long-player contains a new version of "I Bought You Plastic Star ..." and a duet contribution of Veronica Nunn on the song "Island Christmas". It soon gained the "Grand-Prix" Award for 2003 in the Rock/Pop Category with the premier Japanese Music Magazine 'ADLIB'. Michael's talents as a songwriter were also appreciated by British Gordon Haskell who paid tribute to Franks' works with The Lady Wants to Know (2004), an album which entirely consists of Michael Franks' (previously self-recorded) songs. According to his homepage, Michael is currently working on a forthcoming release which he intends to publish in late 2005. More than thirty years of recording has made him one of the most important jazz vocalists, unfortunately still unrecognized by many. Throughout his career he collaborated with the likes of Flora Purim, Kenny Rankin, Ron Carter, David Sanborn, Toots Thielemans, Eric Gale, and others, and has had songs recorded by The Manhattan Transfer, Patti LaBelle, Carmen McRae and Carpenters. No matter who he recorded or played with, the attitude toward his own music never changed: Dim the lights, get out the Chardonnay, cuddle up.

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