He needs all the world to confirm: Best of Robert Palmer

A salute to a talent who never got his due when alive, for which he deserves the blame. A smoothie who enjoyed looking blankly handsome against a backdrop of blankly beautiful blank models, Robert Palmer began as an Allen Toussaint acolyte for whom increasing musical sophistication was commensurate with curiosity. When I got Addictions, Volume 1 as a birthday present in 1989, the stylistic reach bewildered me. I should note that Palmer, who produced his own records after the mid seventies, mixed covers and originals — a sign of his exquisite taste. 1978’s Double Fun includes Tom Moulton collaborations, and at the height of his “Addicted to Love” and “Simply Irresistible” fame he covered “Mercy Mercy Me” without embarrassing himself or Marvin Gaye. Electronic R&B didn’t phase him either: The System, Cherelle, Jermaine and Michael Jackson, and the Gap Band passed through his fingers, all benefiting from his considerable vocal control. He adored the Comsat Angels, Husker Du, and Motorhead. He also loved Gary Numan and Talking Heads; maybe they taught him to write to sequencers, which powered “Johnny and Mary,” a domestic drama song of unexpected pathos. When Bryan Ferry and Todd Terje covered it in 2014, it felt right: the master song stylist and dance music producer, respectively, acknowledging what he would have done for and with them. Perhaps he was a master who preferred to be subsumed by the most conventional image.

Missing: hits like “Bad Case of Loving You,” “Every Kinda People,” and “Simply Irresistible.”

1. Johnny and Mary
2. You Are in My System
3. Looking For Clues
4. I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On
5. Woke Up Laughing
6. You’re Gonna Get What’s Coming
7. Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’ (Too Good to Be True)
8. Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley
9. She Makes My Day
10. Can We Still Be Friends
11. Some Guys Have All The Luck
12. History
13. Addicted to Love
14. New Day Rising
15. Hyperactive
16. I Dream of Wires
17. Back in My Arms
18. Communication (w/the Power Station)
19. Disturbing Behavior
20. What’s It Take

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3 Responses to He needs all the world to confirm: Best of Robert Palmer

  1. tyrusmanuel says:

    The under appreciation of Palmer will always amaze me and maybe that is a testament to his real skill and dedication to music. His appreciation of various musical styles was amazing and he covered them so well.

    From The System’s “You Are In My System” to ZZ Top’s “TV Dinners” ( a favorite cover of mine) his taste was so broad, he was a man who loved music and his love of music bled tbrough his own music and infected the listener (when willing). I truly miss hearing what he would have done since his death.

    Did you hear the last Powerstation album he did? “Scared” was a wonderful track on that album of otherwise predictable and unexciting tracks.

  2. postpunkmonk says:

    I really miss Palmer. When is someone going to write the book on that man? Lucky to have seen him twice; once on the “Heavy Nova” tour where the highlight was a completely unexpected cover of Motorhead’s “Eat The Rich!” Then we saw him on the second [real] Power Station tour for the “Living In Fear” album, which, truth be told, is the one missable album I have of his. Still, a fantastic night with Palmer. I only wish I had a few more under my belt.

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