Michael Franks – Blue Pacific and Walter Becker

John Hilderbrand Avatar

This week, in 1990, the Blue Pacific recording by Michael Franks hit #1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. It was really my first exposure to him. I recall that his voice surprised me. It wouldn’t be until later that I gained appreciation for the wittiness and uniqueness of his lyrics. I think I remember some excitement about Walter Becker producing some tracks. The late Steely Dan co-founder (Becker passed away Sept. 3, 2017) produced three of the ten tracks, with Jeff Lorber and Tommy LiPuma dividing up the remainder. ┬áIt was the first track, “The Art of Love,” that grabbed my attention – a good catchy uptempo track. I’m pretty sure we put that into rotation on the radio station’s late night jazz show immediately.

Blue Pacific by Michael Franks

Michael shared his memory, as well as a photo, of working with Walter Becker, saying “I’m so grateful I got to know and work with Walter- he was a gentleman, an incredibly talented musician and producer and a terrific storyteller.”

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John Hilderbrand Avatar

2 responses to “Michael Franks – Blue Pacific and Walter Becker”

  1. Liz Goodwin Avatar
    Liz Goodwin

    Dear Mr. Hilderbrand,

    I wholeheartedly agree with you about the significance of Michael Franks’ 1990 masterpiece “Blue Pacific.” Though I own a number of his albums (among them “The Art of Tea”; “One Bad Habit”; and “Passionfruit”), I maintain that there was something intrinsically special about “Blue Pacific”. In addition to the inimitable late Walter Becker’s stellar contributions to the classic project, there were the appearances of pianist Joe Sample on the wistful “Long Slow Distance” and James Taylor’s soundalike brother Livingston Taylor adding his complimentary vocals to the halcyon “Crayon Sun.”

    Michael Franks is a treasure and “Blue Pacific” and its long standing appeal is a testimony to that.

    The year 1990 was indeed a superb year for contemporary jazz or whatever label one wants to affix to great music by such an extremely gifted cast of musicians, vocalists, and A-List producers such as the late great Tommy Lipuma, as you kindly noted.

    I am glad that you retained this website. It is profoundly needed and is a refreshing, welcome reminder of why these great musicians need this forum to remind both familiar and unfamiliar listeners why it is so important to keep the great word out about timeless artists whose music never is out of style.

    Please keep up your fine work with your site! I am an avid fan!


  2. Chuck Beckett Avatar
    Chuck Beckett

    I was turned on to Michael Franks when I was stationed in Iwakuni Japan back in 1979..Since then I was hooked

    Love this man!!!

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