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Michael Franks - The Art of Love
Rhino Records
By MuzikMan
(more articles from this author)
2003-05-28
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Artist: Michael Franks (www.michaelfranks.com)
Title: The Art of Love
Label: Rhino Records (www.rhino.com)
Genre: Jazz/Smooth, Crossover, Pop, Vocal, Contemporary Instrumental
Format: 2 CD Set/w booklet

Michael Franks was the first jazz vocal artist I discovered in the mid ‘80s. I not only enjoyed his music, I appreciated his warm and inviting vocal style. As I recall, the "Passionfruit" and "Skin Dive" albums were my introduction to "Mr. Smooth." I was pleasantly surprised when The Art of Love, a comprehensive two disc set spanning Franks' career, arrived for review.

Three songs reminded me of when I listened to Franks' music, "Popsicle Toes," which was the most recognizable, and then "Read My Lips" and "Your Secrets Safe with Me," which quickly brought the ‘80s right back to me. As with many people that listen to music on a regular basis the feeling and atmosphere became more cozy and warm for me once I heard the songs that related to an important period in my life. Consequently, because the second CD is dedicated to the later half of his career, I found more identification with it than disc one. Although disc one was enjoyable, the ‘80s-'90s material sounds more funky and upbeat than the earlier part of his career. This is obviously due to the artists' development in every facet of the recording process and the ongoing improvements with studio techniques.

Franks has had the pleasure of working with the best in business right from the beginning of his career. He has played with everyone from The Yellowjackets to Larry Carlton; actually, saying that he worked with a literal who's who of jazz over his illustrious career is not stretching the truth one bit. The credits were so extensive on this set that it would have been ridiculous to list in one review, so far-reaching in fact, that my publishers would probably have a fit if I were to send the list along with this review.

Franks' music can bring you a warm Caribbean breeze, a sunny day, or a walk in the park with funky modern jazz sprinkled with pop sensibilities. His music has enough crossover appeal for anyone that enjoys pleasant, relaxing and uplifting music, while listener's that are not too sure which way they lean in terms of any particular specific genre will find something of value to be sure. This brand of music appeals to a wide range of audiences in both age group and tastes. If you have not experienced the temperate intimate pleasures of the Franks catalog, this lovely 2 CD set would be a good place to get things started, if you're a long time fan, it's a collection that does a nice job encapsulating a long and successful career. There is a lot of music on these two discs (31 tracks) and the booklet that accompanies the CDs is an informative musical and personal biography that gives you more than just a hint about the honored artist, his influences, and his upbringing.

Music and the art of love, they go hand in hand, this is what great jazz vocalists know and you can hear it when they sing a song. Just listen to Michael Franks…he is as right as rain.

CD 1
1. Eggplant - 3:37
2. Popsicle Toes - 4:34
3. The Lady Wants to Know - 4:44
4. B'wana - He No Home - 4:56
5. Antonio's Song (The Rainbow) - 5:04
6. When the Cookie Jar Is Empty - 5:09
7. Meet Me in the Deerpark- 5:58
8. Living on the Inside - 5:38
9. Sanpaku - 4:12
10. Tiger in the Rain - 4:18
11. When It's Over - 3:04
12. On My Way Home to You - 4:50
13. Inside You - 4:12
14. Lotus Blossom - 4:17
15. Don't Be Blue (live) - 3:41
16. Monkey See - Monkey Do (live) - 6:32

CD 2
1. Tahitian Moon - 4:36
2. Flirtation- 3:42
3. When Sly Calls (Don't Touch That Phone) - 5:52
4. Rainy Night in Tokyo - 4:42
5. Sunday Morning Here With You - 4:33
6. Your Secret's Safe With Me - 4:39
7. When I Give My Love to You - 4:25
8. Read My Lips - 3:41
9. Innuendo - 5:54
10. Leading Me Back to You - 5:06
11. The Art of Love - 4:10
12. The Dream (live) - 5:13
13. Monk's New Tune - 5:43
14. Somehow Our Love Survives - 5:00
15. Mr. Smooth - 4:39


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