Another artist that truly knew his way around using Brazilian music to a different end was Michael Franks. Heavily mustachioed, more than a bit lecherous at times, but when tempered with his obvious talent knew how to create some of the smoothest Brazilian-inflected R&B jazz…one that would serve as a big influence on artists like Sade or Prefab Sprout. On “St. Elmo’s Fire”, from 1976’s “The Art of Tea” he touches on two massive Brazilian influences: Tom Jobim and Joao Gilberto.
The expanding composition which floats between a stop-start rhythmic guitar/piano bed and a gliding chorus is more than an ode to Tom, what sets it over the bar is Michael’s deliberate closed mic’ed whisper vocal…that’s just an ode to the master of this: Joao. I mean, this is what makes a lot of Brazilian music so intriguing, that bit of glide over a hesitating feeling. Anyways, one more track to go before we go full Brazilian *OUCH*. (Heck, I’d recommend you stick around for the following track in this album “I Don’t Know Why I’m So Happy I’m Sad”, a bit laughable, but a nice tongue-in-cheek ode to Brazilian music’s saudade/bittersweet feeling.)