Album Reviews

Robert Palmer – At His Very Best

(UMTV) UK release date: 4 November 2002

Robert Palmer - At His Very Best I must admit I approached this album with much trepidation. Apart from his obvious big hits, like She Makes My Day, Addicted To Love and Mercy Mercy Me, I wasn’t aware of much of Robert Palmer‘s work. However, I was positively shocked when I first heard this CD. I was very familiar with so many more of these songs – I just hadn’t always realised who they were by.

Palmer has had a long successful career spanning three decades, which is reflected on this compilation album. Johnny & Mary is a lazy, chilled track with a hook that appears to gently drip into your ears without you noticing and yet, every time you hear it, the chorus stays in your head for weeks.

Some Like It Hot was the result of his collaboration with John and Andy Taylor from Duran Duran, recorded under the name The Power Station. Memories of mobiles the size (and weight) of bricks, and flashy guys dressed in silver suits sipping preposterous cocktails immediately spring to mind… In other words, it’s best kept as an embarrassing memory.

Following this we have his biggest hit Addicted To Love. It is impossible to hear this song without thinking of the classic video featuring sultry models dancing in the background and doing a bad impression of playing guitars. This is simply a classic song. The vocals and production are spot on and this track has easily passed the test of time.

And it becomes clear that Palmer’s voice is much under-rated. He has a wonderfully relaxed and deceptively lazy drawl that somehow always seems warm, and it twirls around the instrumentation perfectly. He is a classic soul singer, from the days back when soul actually meant something.

The influence of disco appears to seep into around half of the songs but is always kept to the background. Simply Irresistible is an example of this. It almost appears that he is afraid to go the whole hog and do a complete disco track. Then again it is this interplay between classic rock riffs and disco beats that make some of these songs timeless classics.

The closing track, TV Dinners, is a version of the ZZ Top song. Stripped down to its bare bones it is a decent cover and is injected with Palmer’s noted good humour. But as the closing track of a “best of” collection it simply does not work and ends the album on a rather sour note. A shame – strip away the chaff of this record and you will find an interesting artist who has produced an impressive body of diverse work.

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