Our June reviews include albums by Boz Scaggs, Nick DeCaro, Robert Palmer, Michael Franks and Rickie Lee Jones.
“My Time” by Boz Scaggs (1972)
Recorded in 1972, half at CBS Studios in San Francisco and half at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, “My Time”, Boz Scaggs’ fifth album, shows an artist in the process of transformation – still undistinguished between Californian blue-eyed soul and the funky southern soul of Alabama. With “Hello My Lover” and “Freedom for the Stallion”, Scaggs covered two Allen Toussaint songs that capture the basic mood of the album well: elegant, somewhat elegiac, soulful music. The opening track and only single of the album, “Dinah Flo”, already points the way towards “Silk Degrees”. But Boz’s successful time would come four years later.
“Italian Graffiti” by Nick DeCaro (1974)
The multi-talented arranger, producer, musician, songwriter and artist Nick DeCaro has worked with well-known stars since the mid-60s. He arranged Gordon Lightfoot’s classic hit “If You Could Read My Mind” and albums like George Benson’s “Weekend In LA” or Rickie Lee Jones’ “Pirates”, among others. “Italian Graffiti” is one of his rare solo releases. DeCaro created a smooth blend of sophisticated pop and early 70s jazz on this record with the support of his friend Tommy Lipuma. With LA jazz musicians such as Harvey Mason, Arthur Adams, Wilton Felder and David T. Walker, DeCaro interpreted a tasteful selection of song material by artists such as Van McCoy, Stevie Wonder, Randy Newman and Joni Mitchell. With a voice that oscillates between Chet Baker and Brian Wilson, he created a unique soft and melancholic mood. “Italian Graffiti” is a “desert island” record, a real masterpiece.
“Some People Can Do What They Like” by Robert Palmer (1976)
That Robert Palmer was much more than the MTV crooner of the 80s is shown by his mid-70s albums like “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley”, “Pressure Drop” and, of course, “Some People Can Do What They Like” from 1976. Highlights of his third album are the catchy breakup ballad “One Last Look” and the jazzy, seductive “Keep in Touch”. By the way: The model on the cover picture, who Palmer engages in a game of strip poker, is Playboy magazine’s Playmate of the Month for April 1976, Denise Michele. Robert Palmer knew how to have fun…
“Pirates” by Rickie Lee Jones (1981)
After her million-selling debut album “Rickie Lee Jones”, 1981’s “Pirates” was Jones’ ambitious second masterpiece. Far beyond conventional pop song structures, she created an atmospheric soundscape with poetic lyrics, jazzy – Steely Dan influenced – compositions and her great, unique voice. The fact that the whole record sounds so stunning and light was not only due to her talent, but also to the great musicians like Donald Fagen, Buzz Feiten, Neil Larsen or Steve Lukather who supported her in the studio. Timeless!
“Passion Fruit” by Michael Franks (1983)
In 1983 Michael Franks released his 8th album “Passion Fruit” and reached finally his commercial peak. The whole album is another great example for Frank’s mastership in creating quiet tension from beginning to end. From the jazzy funkiness of “When Sly Calls (Don’t Touch That Phone)” to the sophisticated Bossa Nova seduction of “Tell Me All About It” up to the smooth majesty of “Rainy Night In Tokyo” convinced “Passion Fruit” with great songwriting and performance. Franks owed the dreamy elegance not at least to the musicianship of contributors as Astrud Gilberto, Randy Brecker, Hamish Stuart and Toots Thielemans. Michael Frank’s “Passion Fruit” is a highly recommended smooth masterpiece.