Sunday, May 13, 2007

Laidback Redefined

I first heard Michael Franks on the radio in 1976, back in the days when DJs were allowed to play the music they liked, felt passionate about and encouraged others to listen to through their love of a song or singer. Of course now it's all down to station programmers who seem to know didlly jack about what the audience likes and inflicts on us their taste. Is it any wonder that Michael Parkinson has championed a number of artists over the last few years that have become big stars? Anyway I digress from Michael Franks.

This album had his first hit on it, ‘Popsicle Toes’, which was the track I heard and was then 'forced' to go out a buy the LP. I quickly found that ‘Popsicle Toes’ was the song I liked the least - how often that has happened over the years. Franks' trick over the years has been to write absurdly catchy songs and then get the best players around to play them with him. On this album you'll find Michael Brecker (sax), Dave Sanborn (sax), Joe Sample (keyboards) and Larry Carlton on guitar (he's the man who played on the Theme to Hill Street Blues and dozens of other hits).

Michael Franks epitomises southern California and when I lived in Los Angeles in the early 1980s I saw him live, which sealed my love for his music. I bought his ‘Objects of Desire’ album from Tower Records on Sunset just before driving down to Palm Springs to stay with friends. I was blown away listening to the cassette on the drive. I think I bored them rigid with it over the weekend that we spent sitting around their pool. Net result I cannot listen to that album without being right back in Palm Springs - great vibe even though I fully accept it has a little dated feeling to it, but who cares!

‘The Art of Tea’, although an earlier album, is less dated, and has some gems on it. ‘St Elmo's Fire’, ‘Nightmoves’ and ‘Mr. Blue’. Amongst his more recent albums try ‘Blue Pacific’ or ‘Dragonfly Summer’.


james higham said...

Dated is no crime, Richard.

You were in Palm Springs? My memory of that place was 123 degrees and they had sprays from the roof of the walkways outside the shops in the main street.

That and the broad vistas.

Richard Havers said...

Palm Springs always intrigued me. It seemed totally surreal and at the same time tacky. I think that it is probably less attractive now than it was back in the 80s, it seemed somehow low key then. I have very fond memories of going to Sonny (& Cher) Bono’s restaurant, at the time I think he was mayor of Palm Springs

Ellee said...

Richard, I wonder if you could add a link to your site that plays your favourite song when you visit it, I've seen it on others and I think it would be a cool way for us to listen in on some of your favourite numbers.

I believe Philipa knows how to do it, she sent me some info a while ago, I can check it out if you wish.

Richard Havers said...

Elle, I would be interested if Philipa could share that info. Thanks!

Ellee said...

Philip, I will check it out for you.