Michael Franks - The Art Of Tea
Michael Franks - The Art Of Tea
Michael Franks - The Art Of Tea
Michael Franks - The Art Of Tea

Michael Franks - The Art Of Tea

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Michael Franks – vocals

Michael Brecker – saxophone

David Sanborn – saxophone

Joe Sample – keyboards

Larry Bunker – vibraphone

Larry Carlton – guitar

Wilton Felder – bass

John Guerin – drums

Jerry Steinholtz – congas

 

1 LP, standard sleeve

Original analog Master tape : YES

Heavy Press : 180g

Record color : black

Speed : 33 RPM

Size : 12'’

Stereo

Record Press : Pallas

Label : Speakers Corner

Original Label : Reprise Records

Recorded May 22 – June 9, 1975 at Capitol Recording Studios, Los Angeles, by Al Schmitt, Bruce Botnick and Lee Hershberg

Produced by Tommy LiPuma

Originally released in 1975

Reissued in December 2021

 

Tracks:

Side A :

  1. Nightmoves
  2. Eggplant
  3. Monkey See - Monkey Do
  4. St. Elmo's Fire
  5. I Don't Know Why I'm So Happy I'm Sad

Side B:

  1. Jive
  2. Popsicle Toes
  3. Sometimes I Just Forget To Smile
  4. Mr. Blue

 

 

Reviews :

« 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. » AllMusic Review by Stephen J. Matteo

 

“As popular music evolved in the 1970’s, the different genres were changing. Jazz adopted electric instruments and synthesizers, creating a fusion sound that was smoother. The hard core rock scene was winding down. Heavy metal and punk music was still undefined in the future. More importantly, r & b moved away from the crossover dance music at Motown and the deeply gospel-rooted Memphis expression. A new hybrid, radio-friendly genre, quiet storm emerged. Incorporating elements of soul and jazz into a contemporary format. Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Barry White, Roberta Flack and Bill Withers were among the early proponents of this new movement. Another of these performers was songwriter and vocalist Michael Franks. In addition to recording with artists like Patti Austin, Brenda Russell and Art Garfunkel, he embarked on a three-decade career as a pop/jazz vocalist. His breakthrough album, The Art Of Tea included his only charting single “Popsicle Toes”.

Speakers Corner Records has released a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of The Art Of Tea. Backing up Frank’s silky tenor are first rate session players like David Sanborn, Joe Sample, Larry Carlton, Larry Bunker, Wilton Felder, John Guerin and Jerry Steinholz. Side One opens with the gentle sway of “Nightmoves”. Franks’ ethereal vocal delivery is framed by smooth electric piano and guitar. His delivery is straightforward and fits into the instrumental pocket. “Eggplant” has a finger-snapping cool vibe and Franks stretches out on vocals, while delivering a humorous, poetic take on love. Joe Sample’s electric piano is fluid and is matched by subtle guitar. Adding some muscle to the instrumentation, “Monkey See-Monkey Do” has a funky, pulse-driven beat with a soulful run on saxophone. Franks articulates a jazzy stream-of consciousness with topical, anecdotal references. “Switching gears, “St. Elmo’s Fire” is a romantic ballad with pop sentiment. Frank’s vocal phrasing is excellent and the overall relaxed structure offers the singer ample opportunity to showcase his innate vocal skills. On “I Don’t Know Why I’m So Happy I’m Sad”, he incorporates laid-back reflections on romance with clever rhyming framed by the understated instrumentals. 

Side Two kicks off with a jazzy attitude and up tempo music on “Jive”. The saxophone adds depth to the structure. Franks’ wordplay is clever and memorable. A certain highlight of the album is “Popsicle Toes”. Franks injects a whimsical, bluesy aesthetic into the jazzy arrangement. Touches like vibraphone enhance the atmospheric feel. Sample’s piano is glowing and offers deeper jazz accents. The band complements Franks’ vocal styling with cohesive play. With a rock tempo, “I Just Forgot To Smile” is more wry observations with quick-rhyme and numerous popular cultural references. The instrumental jamming on this one is excellent. The finale (“Mr. Blue”) shifts to romantic melancholy with a smoky saxophone, synthesizers and acoustic piano weaving a gossamer tapestry.

The Art Of Tea maintains its creative and commercial appeal 45 years after its initial release. Speakers Corner Records has done an exceptional job in re-mastering this to 180-gram vinyl. Franks’ dulcet, higher-register voice is captured with clarity and warmth. The instrumentation never upstages the vocals and the stereo separation is flawless.” Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition, September 2021

 

Ratings :

AllMusic : 4.5 / 5 ;  Discogs : 4.02 / 5 ; Audiophile Audition : 4.5 / 5

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