ANOTHER Michael Franks Album Review? Okay, If You Say So.
Slowly but surely, the debauchery of the 70's is catching up with M.F. He hasn't hit rock-bottom yet, but the album opener, "Sanpaku", is one helluva hangover song. He used to chew the root until his brain was fried, chop the line, wake up red-eye from the wine. He can't even remember all the highs he tried! A regretful string-section lies quietly in the brush and Paul Griffin lets loose with a lovely organ solo. An exotic jungle lay-dee takes him by the hand and warns him away from the low life. (F.Y.I.-For better or for worse, Rousseau is one of M.F.'s fave painters and is praised in the sleeve-notes for his "innocent directness". Lock up yer daughters, America.) "When It's Over" is the shortest, sweetest kiss-off you've ever heard: "All those books on your shelf...Did they teach you how to cure yourself? Not even Sigmund Freud can save you from the love you destroyed." Ouch! "Living On The Inside" is a much more tranquil and domestic scene. The tea is from Tibet, Michael plays the scales, and his lady protects the whales. They make love listening to Satie, they paint the rooms, the pumpkins bloom. "We're so francais/With lime & Perrier." Ooh baby baby. Stellar slow jam cast too: Ron Carter, Bucky Pizzarelli, Kenny Barron, and weeping (with joy) string-section. This is just a great getting away from it all jazz-pop album. The emphasis is definitely on the "jazz" too. Beautiful arrangements for brass and the (regretful & weeping) strings. "Tiger In The Rain" is -sigh- a love song to Michael's cat, but it's such a pretty tune with such a strong melody that it more than transcends its precious/homely sentiments. Sick of the zombie trains, and stews and critics that are too acidic, M.F. ends up in Brazil under a banana tree by the end of side one. By side two he's underneath an apple tree (In, hey!, whaddya know, a song called "Underneath The Apple Tree".) shooting up summertime and drinking tea instead of wine. In the nude. Most memorable lines award would have to go to either: "Let's play pin-the-tail-on-the-bunny/Let's play grizzly bear finding honey/Let the lukewarm milk of precaution be spilt-It's full-tilt." OR "When I saw you there in your Danskin/Then the wolf jumped out of the lambskin/And a blush came over your cheeks/In the room filled with freaks". The overlong cliche-riddled "Lifeline" that closes the record is the only dud. The nautical metaphors used to describe a love-affair sink this leaky ship. M.F. doesn't sound at ease on the sea. He's a bossa nova baby at heart and needs to be on the beach to really make his luverly ditties swim.