Michael Franks was born on September 18, 1944 in La Jolla, South California. (Note: According to Yahoo, La Jolla is one of the best place to visit after a break-up!) A young Michael absorbed the literature of American standards by the greats: Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Johnny Mercer, plus the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee and Nat King Cole. At age 14, he spent $29.95 for a Japanese Marco Polo guitar. He studied English at UCLA. During that time, he was mesmerized by the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Miles Davis. In the late ‘60s, he relocated to Canada, where he opened shows for Gordon Lightfoot and worked briefly with the band Carnival, later Lighthouse. He cut his first self-titled record in 1973 for Brut Records. Then, he was signed by Warner Brothers. His first record on Reprise was The Art Of Tea (its title lifted from the book by Okakura) in 1975. His only charted hit was Popsicle Toes (43/1976). From 1973 to 2012, he has a total of 23 record releases (including compilation and greatest hits). Except the Dream box set in 2012, I have every Michael Franks CD.
Today Michael Franks lives with his wife Claudia in Woodstock. He is indeed the mystical, mellow messenger: the weaver of dreams. He is the wise and gentle poet placing passion fruit at the feet of the sleeping gypsy, transforming her mirages of amore into Tropic of Virgo moonlight she will cup in both hands.
Love Songs is Michael Franks’ 21st album release, counting compilations or greatest hits. There are 15 songs (album label & number, name of producer, source of album, year), which is as follows:
LOVE SONGS (Warner/Rhino 73997)(2004):
01 THE LADY WANTS TO KNOW (Produced by Tommy LiPuma)(From the album Sleeping Gypsy)(1977)
02 WHEN I GIVE MY LOVE TO YOU (duet with Brenda Russell)(Produced by Rob Mounsey)(From the album Skin Dive)(1985)
03 TELL ME ALL ABOUT IT (Produced by Rob Mounsey)(From the album Passionfruit)(1983)
04 SUNDAY MORNING HERE WITH YOU (Produced by Rob Mounsey)(From the album Passionfruit)(1983)
05 TAHITIAN MOON (Produced by Michael Colina & Ray Bardani)(From the album Objects Of Desire)(1982)
06 NOW I KNOW WHY (THEY CALL IT FALLING)(Produced by Rob Mounsey)(From the album Skin Dive)(1985)
07 ON MY WAY HOME TO YOU (Produced by Tommy LiPuma & Andre Fischer)(From the album One Bad Habit)(1980)
08 POPSICLE TOES (Produced by Tommy LiPuma)(From the album The Art Of Tea)(1975)
09 MEET ME IN THE DEERPARK (Produced by Tommy LiPuma)(From the album Burchfield Nines)(1978)
10 LIVING ON THE INSIDE (Produced by John Simon)(From the album Tiger In The Rain)(1979)
11 RAINY NIGHT IN TOKYO (Produced by Rob Mounsey)(From the album Passionfruit)(1983)
12 VIVALDI'S SONG (Produced by Tommy LiPuma)(From the album Burchfield Nines)(1978)
13 MR. BLUE (Produced by Tommy LiPuma)(From the album The Art Of Tea)(1975)
14 WHEN THE COOKIE JAR IS EMPTY (Produced by Tommy LiPuma)(From the album Burchfield Nines)(1978)
15 SOMEHOW OUR LOVE SURVIVES (Produced by Russell Ferrante and Jimmy Haslip)(From the album Abandoned Garden)(1995)
To compile a Love Songs compilation by Michael Franks is a difficult task because he has soooo many! The above songs do give a good review of Michael’s poetic, romantic lyrics. If you want to have more insights into individual songs, please read my review for that album found elsewhere.
I have every Michael Franks domestic album release, including compilations and greatest hits (except The Dream box set). The sound on this CD is improved, but much better than all other Michael Franks earlier individual releases on Warner Brothers (except Live with Crossfire (1980), A Backward Glance: The Best Of Michael Franks (1998) and Anthology: The Art Of Love (2003). For all those earlier efforts, it seems that the engineer was either in a rush or simply lazy, just laying down the track files, grouping them together, and that’s it, without properly remastering the audio to obtain the best results. So far, the best, brilliant digital remastering occurred in his more recent output (Barefoot On The Beach, 1999, and Watching The Snow, 2003). For myself, having every CD that Michael has released, I have remastered every tune using 32-bit/96kHz, and the resultant sound is simply vibrant, alive and in-your-face. Imagine Michael Franks serenade right in front of you in a pitch-black completely darkened audio room, surrounded by pure, clean, crisp, vibrant instrumental music. It is music at its sublime best! In my own opinion, with the availability of current technology, just slapping the files onto CD without proper digital remastering shows a lack of respect for the artist and his songs.
As a fan of Michael Franks and also a completist, I have remastered all the 23 CDs in my collection. I labeled them as The Michael Franks Album Collection. Also, I have done an exhaustive research and came up with a detailed Singles Discography too, with 2 CDs, featuring 31 songs (containing all the a- and b-sides from 1975 to 1993).
This is a good Love Songs compilation on Michael Franks, with good choice of music and above average sound. Although the remastering is uneven, you will still get satisfactory sound when you turn up the volume dial. As you listen more and more, Michael’s voice will grow on you, and you will fall in love with his poetic, romantic lyrics. This is an ideal Valentine Day’s gift.
This set is recommended for all Michael Franks fans and people in love.