Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Surprising organic Rock from a young Robert Palmer

So I was walking through a store and I heard this song. I didn’t know who it was, but it was quick and funky with cool lyrics. I also don’t have a phone with an app that lets you hold your phone up to a speaker and it will ID the song for you. It took a few weeks to determine that the song I had been grooving to was an old Robert Palmer tune, “Looking for Clues.”  (Try to ignore the silly video. Remember, they were all this bad in 1980.) The song hit #7 in Canada and #33 in the UK when it was released in 1980, but had never been a hit here, so I had never heard it before.

Robert Palmer Best of Both Worlds

I always thought Palmer was a damn good looking man. Now, I'm not gay, but if I was...

Now anybody who lived through the 80s probably remembers Palmer’s work with The Power Station in ‘85, certainly remembers the inescapable ‘Addicted to Love’ in ’86, and possibly recalls ‘Bad Case of Loving You,’ which hit # 14 in the US in 1979. I was never a huge fan of that stuff, but I was intrigued with this unknown (to me) Palmer tune that was really cool. I decided to do a little digging and see what I could turn up.

Turns out Robert Palmer was really cool back in the day. He had an organic, rootsy sound that I hadn’t expected, given the songs of his with which I was familiar. I ordered his greatest hits, “The Best of Both Worlds,” and there’s a bunch of great music on it that never charted anywhere and I had never heard it. Check these out.

  • Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley – This Blues/Funk tune has some fat vocal harmony and spidery keyboards that Stevie Wonder would be proud of. Not to mention the idea behind the song and the lyrics are cool. Love this song.
  • How Much Fun – A sunny groove and carnival piano back Palmer and some ladies singing about finding out how much fun they can get into life.
  • Man Smart (Woman Smarter) – Not written by the Grateful Dead, as you might think. This is an old Harry Belafonte song.  Palmer swings this one with some piano, guitar, steel drum, and penny whistle. I think this is the studio recording synched with footage of a live performance.
  • Sailin’ Shoes/Hey Julia – The first half of this is a funky and celebratory tune with his signature guitar sound and female backup singers. Then it turns into this cute and clever love song. “Hey hey, Julia. You’re acting so peculiar. I know I’d never fool ya in a million years. A horn section your resemble and your figure makes me tremble and I sure would like to handle what’s between your ears.” My daughter loves this song.
  • I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On – This was from “Riptide,” the same album as ‘Addicted to Love.’  It’s a cool song and one I hadn’t heard but a handful of times on the radio. The video is exactly like the ‘Addicted to Love’ video.

After the success I had with “The Best of Both Worlds,” I decided to go looking for some more Palmer. There was another track I found.

  • Pressure Drop – When you think of Robert Palmer, you think of – say it with me – Reggae! Why didn’t you say it with me? I was surprised at this, but it’s a pretty good Reggae song. I like it anyway. I got this from a collection called “The Roots of Rock: Rock ‘n’ Reggae.”

Any fans of Robert Palmer will probably be surprised at the songs of his I didn’t know, but his last hit outside the UK was 15 years ago and he only had a handful of minor hits before his run in ‘85/’86. Anyway, he had his hip youth, his huge wave of success, and his period of waning popularity. Maybe it’s time for the comeback…

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November 12, 2009 - Posted by | Classic Rock, Popular, Rock

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