Monday, December 3, 2012

Robert Palmer: Double Fun

You can tell from the cheese-eatin' grin on this dude's face that there's more going on off-screen than just some marshmallow toasting au naturel. In fact, there's some serious slap-and-tickle occurring just out of the frame. It's a metaphor for what was going on with Robert Palmer's music: someone's having an awful lot of fun, and he's not you. But if you mind your manners, he might be persuaded to let you peek behind the curtain.

Robert Palmer was one of those guys who dressed a little too nice, smiled a little too wide, and had women just a little too pretty hanging on his arm. Between him and Daryl Hall, they cornered the market on "hipster" before that word was in the buzz-of-the-month club. But despite his impeccable taste - or maybe because of it - Robert Palmer made some great records.

I hold that his early work, for Island, was his best. From 1974 to about 1980 (well before Power Station and "Simply Irresistable" came in and mucked up his career), Robert Palmer albums could be counted on to deliver precision-crafted white soul that kept you moving and grooving nearly automatically. "Double Fun", Palmer's 4th Lp, was notable for the awesome "Every Kinda People", a song that got radio play but should have been bigger; if not for the easy groove and Marvin Gaye vibe, then for the perceptive lyrics about rollin' with the flow. There's also the awesome "You're Going To Get What's Coming", the obvious shoulda-been-a-hit closer. Jamaican rhythms abound throughout, giving "Double Fun" an easy loping party feel from beginning to end.

If you were a fan of the "Addicted To Love"-era Palmer, this album might not suit your taste. On the other hand, it might open your eyes and ears to the work of an artist who knew how to woo an audience well before the video era.

Further Investigation:

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