I first saw Robert Palmer live at a school dance. He was singing and playing bass with the Mandrakes.A decent band who played around the North of England. I did not really start to go to gigs until a year later & they were good. A couple of Traffic covers where he really stretched. He moved to the Alan Bown (Set) to replace Jess Roden but they were on their last legs really. Not gonna have any hits anyway. Then on to Vinegar Joe, Elkie Brooks & her husband’s rock band. I saw them, they were not very good. Certainly nowhere near Stone The Crows, fronted by Maggie Bell who really did rock.
Elkie went off to cabaret & Palmer went solo. Hmm…nothing that went before showed a great deal of promise & there were a lot of good solo British rock singers in the early 70s. So the debut LP by Robert Palmer “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley” was on of the surprises of 1974. Here’s the title track.
What about that ? Fantastic. An Alan Toussaint song, previously recorded by Lee Dorsey. The band is the Meters augmented by Lowell George. Enough pedigree to piss it at Crufts mate. This band played on 5 of the 8 tracks. On the other 3 it was the finest New York session men money could buy. Man, he didn’t know if he was lead singer of Little Feat or of Steely Dan ! Some choice. If it weren’t Zigaboo Modaliste drumming it was Bernard Purdie !
Another Palmer trademark can be seen in the video. He was usually seen in the company of an attractive woman, or later women. Island had obviously flashed the cash to make the record. Reached #107 in the USA. Everybody I knew bought it & played it to death. The 12 minute jam “Through It All There’s You” is a fine track.
The 2nd LP was “Pressure Drop”, the title track a Toots cover. This time Little Feat were the backing band. In 1975 Feat were the best band in the world. The album is a little smoother than the first. A little less New Orleans, a bit more blue-eyed soul. The best string arranger in the biz, Gene Page,(200 gold records. Barry White’s man) was brought to slick up a couple of commercial soul songs.
That’s Robert Palmer & Little Feat with another Allen Toussaint song. YOW !
Hey, what the… I was gonna take a track from the first 3 Palmer albums but I think we can stand 2 from “Pressure Drop”. The 1978 LP “Some People Can do what They Like” is a good record but it retreads the styles of the first two , not as well. Anyway we have to have the spectacularly cool LP cover on here somewhere. “Pressure Drop” reached #136, So no progress there then. One of the reasons is that there were no live shows to promote the records. It’s cool to get your cool mates to play on your songs but it’s too damn expensive to get them on the road with you.
That’s one of the Page arranged songs. good quality audio but no sleeve. Here it is then. Palmer made 2 great LPs and then he made some good ones. He dropped the blue eyed soul and tried a touch of the gary numan’s for a while. Finally with more than a nudge from MTV and some slick vids he was successful. me I preferred the solo stuff he really wanted to make.