on June 14, 2011
In my opinion, this is the best Michael Franks album since 1983's "Passionfruit." I am a twenty-something music enthusiast and over the years I've collected all of Michael's !SEVENTEEN! proper releases, most on vinyl, which is undoubtedly the best way to experience his music. By this point in his career, Michael should really be considered a legend in the jazz pop world. Alas, he is highly underrated. This is a shame because he is the "real deal." He continues to effortlessly blend jazz, pop, and world music with stunningly brilliant lyrics to great effect.
Michael is at his best when his complex melodic ideas are designed to slowly seep into your sub-conscious in such a way that one line like, "The lady wants to know..." triggers immediate auditory recall of that song's lyrics and melody. For me, the albums that do this best are Art of Tea,Sleeping Gypsy,Burchfield Nines,Tiger in the Rain,One Bad Habit, and Passionfruit. I intentionally organized those albums chronologically and omitted 1982's "Objects of Desire" which never quite clicked with me.
Let me be clear -- Michael Franks has never released a "bad" album. I just happen to prefer certain production and songwriting techniques that are present on his timeless '70s and early '80s albums. To be more specific, I feel that the '80s had a slightly adverse impact on some of Michael's output. This is particularly true with the albums "Skin Dive" and "Camera Never Lies." In anticipation of this album, I read almost all of the Amazon.com reviews of Michael's back catalog, and I seem to be in the minority here. But to me, "Skin Dive" and "Camera Never Lies" sound extremely dated because of the heavy use of compression, drum machines, and special effects. Yes, these albums include some brilliant compositions, but the brilliance is overshadowed by the '80s production. I have some reservations about the '90s albums for similar reasons, but mostly because the compositions seem to wander and the use of saxophone is too liberal for my aesthetic.
But I digress. "Time Together" is a modern masterpiece. I have listened to it at least twelve times and the songs are already ingrained in my musical memory. It is impossible to NOT memorize the clever/cute/insightful lyrics of "Mice" or the catchy chorus to "Now That The Summer's Here." Add some of Joe Sample's Fender Rhodes and "I'd Rather Be Happy Than Right" could have easily been included on "The Art of Tea." And the brilliance doesn't end there. "Charlie Chan in Egypt" and "My Heart Said Wow" offer up a formidable dose of jazz fare with unbelievably witty lyrics.
The production here is very clean and mostly organic (e.g. classical guitars, real drums/percussion, etc.). The one notable exception is "Summer In New York" which features electronic drums and synth patches. Fortunately, it also happens to be a flawless composition that is undeniably groovy. And the drum/keyboard programming doesn't obstruct the brilliance inherent in the tune. The tasty trumpet solo also helps create a perfectly laid-back atmosphere. Finally, "Time Together" features a number of bossa-nova songs that round out the album. I am a huge fan of Michael's Brazilian leanings, and, for me, "One Day In St. Tropez" and "Samba Blue" don't disappoint!
In summation, forget all of the fodder that radio stations will try to pass off as this year's "summer anthem." This is it. A perfect summer album. Grab a good book, an ice-cold lemonade, and enjoy. Thank you, Michael, for your veritable contributions to music...
on June 14, 2011
Jazz vocalist Michael Franks has a new CD (11 tracks) release titled 'Time Together' : it's a well crafted album (great vocals, melody, piano, saxophone & well produced material/music. Stand-out track is "Now That The Summer Is Over" : wonderful guitar, vocals & melody. This is my favourite track from this CD. The remaining 10 tracks are all great jazz tracks with no weak tracks to talk of : they are "One Day In St. Tropez" (great piano, vocals & melody), "Summer In New York" (wonderful saxophone on 'strange sounds'), "Mice", "Charlie Chan In Egypt" (a slow track with great piano, saxophone & vocals), "I'd Rather Be Happy Than Right" (great guitar & vocals), "Time Together" (a slow title track with great guitar pick-ups, piano & vocals), "Samba Blue", "My Heart Said Wow", "If I Could Make September Stay" & "Feather From An Angel" (a slow closing track with great piano/bass combination). On overall, the talented jazz vocalist Michael Franks is back with a well crafted CD release 'Time Together', a highly recommended CD listening.
on June 15, 2011
Twenty-one albums and thirty-eight years of being one of the most brilliant wordsmiths in the world of music, and now he's managed to outdo himself on his 22nd release... TIME TOGETHER. Michael Franks, the man who captured our attention and delighted us with "Popsicle Toes" in 1976, still knows how to touch us emotionally, from his whimsical and playful first single, "Now That the Summer's Here" to the sweet and deeply touching title song... a memorial to his beloved pet Dachshund, Flora. The intelligent wit, wisdom, and biting commentary are all here in this new album, together with the romance and imagery we've come to expect and to cherish from Mr. Franks... tempered with perhaps a heightened wistfulness that's borne out of the passage of time, and best expressed in "If I Could Make September Stay." Bravo, Michael Franks! TIME TOGETHER embraces beautifully all that we love about your music! ~SCOTT O'BRIEN
There is a huge gap in my collection between the first two Michael Frank albums, The Art of Tea (1975) and Sleeping Gypsy (1977), and this new release. I lost interest in the 1980s when he went with the times, and soon also lost track of this mellow, somewhat jazzy vocalist and composer. Now, with my purchase, I can see how Franks has developed or evolved. He hasn't. I do enjoy his whisper voice and sound, but the lyrics do not have the same spark as his freshman releases, though they still are witty and certainly romantic. The musical arrangements of the album are sweet and pleasant and I am happy. He, and I, like Brazilian beats, and this is a bonus. His supporting musicians are very fine. Listening to the album in the evening will help you unwind and make excellent dinner music.
on June 14, 2011
Finally the wait is over, and our day is filled with this lyrical bliss by Michael Franks. Just surrender to the Tao of Franks' juicy, tangy and spicy melodies, rhymes and rhythms and allow yourself to be gifted with the ken of his unique, mysterious ministrations to passion and pain in poem song all dished up in a sensuous, summery selection to savor under the wisteria blossoms with a glass of good wine, your favorite cat in your lap, a well-tuned bio-receiver in your head, and your glad and broken heart. Michael Franks doesn't sell us music. He bewitches us as he somehow tunes us in to the very songs our own hearts and minds, if only they could, would sing all the day long "through this quicksand of time." He and his collaborators in song are, once again here with "Time Together", nothing short of impeccable. Now I have the perfect gift to buy for everyone I know. Thanks again Michael, et al. We once more face all the summer days at the lake, caught spellbound by your lovely magic.
on July 26, 2011
From the moment I viewed the promotional video for the title track "Now That the Summer's Here", I knew we had another winner from Michael. I was once more drawn immediately into the warmth of his unique, tender and catchy style and incredible lyrical poetry. The excellent band gives sterling support and the beguiling bossa-nova rhythms are just magical. Can't stop playing it. We listen in our summer-house, and it's also very relaxing on car journeys. Every track is a gem, my favourites of the moment being "Samba Blue" and "One Day in St. Tropez". I was of that 1963 era. That Brasilian guitar just makes you melt! Truly this man adores Jobim, as do I. My own heart said "Wow"! "Flora" should come with 'Kleenex' - for anyone,including ourselves, who has just lost a much-loved friend from the animal world. The last track, "Feathers from an Angel's Wing" includes the kind of bass solo I love, where the instrument rises from its usual position of undergirding the tune, to render its own beautiful sound as if to say, "I don't just do bass, I can sing, too!" The perfect track to close this magical collection. I haven't felt like this since Carole King's "Tapestry". Every so often, a special musical person comes along. This is Michael Franks, and there is no other like him. I truly believe he is touched by God. Top marks, and more if they were available. If this CD doesn't win every award going, I shall want to know why. Thank you, thank you. Liz Ashton (UK)
on July 13, 2011
I've been listening to Michael Franks since 1976 when he came out with his first album. I have always enjoyed his approach to the music. He uses the best studio musicians, top soloists, a lot of Bossa Nova/Samba and much humor and romance in his lyrics. This CD is a continuation of his signature to music. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it; of course, I thoroughly enjoy Michael Franks.
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.
Time Together (2011) was Michael Franks’ 23nd album release, counting compilations or greatest hits. It was his first studio album in 5 years since Rendezvous in Rio (2006), and also the first on Shanachie record label. It is an airy, groove-ridden summer travelog that ranges from St. Tropez and New York to Paris, France, and Egypt; it journeys through the nostalgic past and finds space in the present moment, with cleverly notated, languorous, ironic observations about life. There are 11 brand new songs. The song listing (with personal comments) is as follows:
01 NOW THAT THE SUMMER'S HERE*a samba-inspired paean to laziness with excellent solos by Till Bronner's trumpet and Eric Marienthal's alto; the arrangement by Chuck Loeb includes a perfectly balanced meld of acoustic and electric guitars, with the harmony chorus between Franks and Carmen Cuesta adding an essentially restrained yet celebratory tone.
02 ONE DAY IN ST. TROPEZ*features Gil Goldstein's acoustic piano, Greg Cohen's bass, and Romero Lubambo's acoustic guitar evoke classic bossa while the singer details in exotically rich, nostalgically romantic lyrics a 1963 hitchhiking excursion through Southern France.
03 SUMMER IN NEW YORK
04 MICE*a humorous, metaphorically hip irony, illustrated beautifully by Mike Manieri's vibes, Scott Petito's bass, and David Spinozza's guitar with a backing vocal from Beth Neilsen-Chapman.
05 CHARLIE CHAN IN EGYPT
06 I'D RATHER BE HAPPY THAN RIGHT
07 TIME TOGETHER*a touching tribute to his beloved dog, Flora, who died in 2000; he was donating royalties from this song to United for Animals in Flora's memory.
08 SAMBA BLUE*offers the tale of a long-ago love affair in Paris, without a hint of cloying or regret, thanks to Franks fine lyric and melody, and a jaunty Chuck Loeb arrangement featuring a beautiful alto solo by Eric Marienthal.
09 MY HEART SAID WOW*duet with Veronica Nunn; Alex Spiagin's trumpet is outstanding!
10 IF I COULD MAKE SEPTEMBER STAY
11 FEATHERS FROM AN ANGEL'S WING*the longest and perhaps most beautiful track here is, fittingly, also the closer; arranged by Mark Egan, whose fretless bass introduces it, Chuck Loeb's guitars, Clifford Carter's keys, and Joe Bonadio's drums illustrate it elegantly.
Unlike earlier albums which were under-remastered, the sound of this album is simply PERFECT! I have every Michael Franks album, and consider this album the BEST sounding album of all, with clear, crisp and intimate vocal from Michael Franks, vibrant, clearly defined sound from various instruments. The result listening experience is simply sublime.
Michael Franks possess a unique gift for dreaming up eloquent literary imagery and combining it with the right musical accents to create timeless masterpieces. With his signature laidback vocal style and sexy/witty/cool songwriting, Michael Franks is a musician’s musician.
I consider this latest album the best sounding of all. Michael was still in top form. The accompanied instrumental sound is clean, crisp and vibrant, complementing Michael’s lazy but soothing voice. There are many outstanding tracks, many of which having a sexy bossa nova beat. This is one album that you can listen to it again and again, especially during the hot summer days. This set is highly recommended.
on March 12, 2012
Memo to Michael Franks: I defy you to disappoint me. Every time I pick up one of your CDs I think that surely there's got to be an ordinary song in there somewhere. But no, there isn't.
I've bought all your albums and no doubt helped put your kids through school, so I'm well qualified to offer an opinion.
It's the same old thing every time - brilliant compositions, superbly arranged and performed that leave me wanting more.
Sometimes I detect a touch of Jobim, a touch of Blossom Dearie and even Cole Porter (I bet you were channelling his ghost when you wrote Laughing Gas).
I enjoy all your styles, but I like the Latin stuff most of all.
I think "Samba Blue" and "No that Summer's Here" on this set are among your 100 best bossa nova style songs.
I would just love to hear you do an album with Sergio Mendes ... half your compositions and half Brasil 66 classics.
Just a thought.
Yes, five stars because you never disappoint
on August 19, 2015
I've been a fan of Michael Franks for more than twenty years now because he's such an incredibly talented lyricist -- clever, eloquent, delightfully sophisticated, and frequently profoundly insightful. As I've said several times, I know of no other person who could write a song about something such as eggplants or mice and not only make it work but make it be interesting and charming. I can only speak for myself, of course...but in my opinion, he simply has no equal and like a fine wine keeps improving with age so that each subsequent release is somehow even better than the one which preceded it. There are several tracks which stand out for me on this recording. One of these is the title track, "Time Together", which brings tears to my eyes because he was inspired to write it after the loss of his beloved dog Flora. "Summer In New York" paints a wonderful picture of a long summer weekend in New York City -- speaking as a longtime resident of the city, I wish it could always be exactly the way he describes it. "Mice" is a sweet and funny take on the eponymous uninvited house guest -- a track that grows on me the more I listen to it. "My Heart Said Wow", a duet with Veronica Nunn, provides a witty perspective on two people falling in love who had previously believed they no longer could. Michael Franks never disappoints and all in all, I think this is one of his best efforts yet.