Friday, January 16, 2009


Reading through Jason Ankeny's bio of Robert Palmer on All Music, I was surprised to see that it has only been a little over 5 years since his passing. As a longtime fan and admirer, it seems twice that.

I was there early. Not as early as his Stax-influenced soul group, Vinegar Joe, but right there for "Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley," his 1974 slinky solo debut that featured members of The Meters & Little Feat. I stayed with him through his forays into reggae, funk, soul, synth-pop and standards. Not everything was a homerun, but Robert Palmer's impeccable vocal phrasing made everything, EVERYTHING worth listening to.

Always surrounded by the best musicians in the game, Palmer's output seemed to baffle even those who were in his corner. Sure, he had major success as a smarmy, lounge lizard of MTV. But everything prior and since, sold little to nothing. He could take a simple ballad that would appeal to the masses if sung over simple instrumentation, and add kettle drums, a didgeridoo, and a penny whistle to create something completely original, a bit wacky, but always intensely beautiful. Not always the best ingredients for a hit record.

I dig the material with Power Station, the 80's supergroup that featured Palmer backed by members of Duran Duran and Chic, it is just unfortunate that a few clever but cheesy videos from that same period are what the great Robert Palmer will forever be known.

Here is a mix of some of my fave Robert Palmer moments.


Woke Up Laughing

Remember To Remember
Night People

Want You More

She Makes My Day

Give Me An Inch

Girl U Want
Trick Bag (Live On The Tube)
Kid/Pressure Drop (Live)




cmealha said...

Robert Palmer was always one of my favorites. He explored so many types of music and was always pushing the envelope with arrangements and production while remaining accessible. He's always in heavy rotation on my iPod. The Power Station stuff was fun but his solo work really shined with inventiveness. He's sorely missed.

cmealha said...

By the way, nice selection of songs. Hadn't heard the live versions and the Devo cover from Unheard. Is that bootleg stuff? I'd never heard of it before.

Sal Nunziato said...

I found something called "Unheard," which is a collection of stray tracks, but I'm pretty sure the DEvo cover is on "Honey," the record he did with Nuno Bettencourt.

steve simels said...

He was in a band called Dada, either before or after Vinegar Joe.

They played my old school in 70 or 71, and even then he was just as snazzy a dresser as when he got famous.

I actually went backstage and tried on a blue crushed velvet jacket he wore. Had it been a little smaller I was going to steal it.

drfeelgoed said...

Thank you for the UNHEARD tracks, loved Trickbag. I thought that the Devo cover is the same as the album version.., never heard the remixes though.
Nice write up too, I should do something similar.
My favorite collection is Woke Up Laughing, brilliant.

By the way, does anyone have the Lee Perry produced bonus tracks of Double Fun Expanded?? I've been looking for those for ages...

Sal Nunziato said...


Island records had expanded reissues scheduled for almost 2 years now, but these, along with a dozen other projects just got tossed away. We were so close.

drfeelgoed said...

Shame on Island Records...

Anyway, I googled around for "unheard" but couldn't find anything. What other tracks were on it?