Sneaking Robert Palmer Thru the Rock Era
It was Palmer's first solo release on Island Records when suddenly the focus became centered on the music blasting out of the speakers. It appeared for a moment that time stood still. I glanced around the van and no one on board was talking while everyone began bobbing their heads in unison. It was like we'd previously rehearsed this jester as a group and now given our cue to nod our heads. The first song pouring out the speakers was "Sailing Shoes," a song previously recorded by Little Feat. Next came the song "Hey Julia." And then the ultimate killer, "Sneaking Sally through the Alley." Wow! Three stellar tracks that sounded funky, soulful and flowed together to make a single entity. Yet all three had enough rock fusion for me to grab the cassette liner notes in search of musician's credits. But inside the cassette package there was nothing listed, no information about the sessions or credits given. This lack of information on the album left me puzzled and sent me on a extended mission to investigate.
After a lengthy search and based on this influential album, the following information surfaced; The title song "Sneaking Sally Through the Alley" was written by noted New Orleans producer Allen Toussaint. Plus, the song was recorded first by the great Lee Dorsey. Toussaint's talent as a songwriter and producer were continually in demand. He was also involved in some of the production for this album while his own Sea-Saint recording studio was used for several sessions. There were also rumors that Little Feat played on Palmer's solo album but come to find out that only guitarist Lowell George participated in the recording. But make no doubt, his tasteful influence is felt throughout this fine album. In addition, Toussaint recruited a New Orleans mainstay by bringing in the rhythm section of The Meters consisting of Art Neville (keyboards), Leo Nocentelli (guitar), George Porter (bass), and Joseph Modeliste (drums). The recording session appeared routine until Palmer's soulful voice quickly jelled with The Meters R&B groove. Legend has it when band members heard his voice they stopped and asked "What did you say your name was again?". Those parties played on tracks # 1 and 3.
By 1975, Palmer's solo career was further established when he released his second LP, "Pressure Drop." This album displayed his keen interest in reggae music infused with rock. Plus, the album's cover began his long identification with sex appeal and the promotion of his youthful looks. The album featured yet more Allen Toussaint and Lowell George compositions together with a Pete Gage (Vinegar Joe) song. Later that year Robert Palmer opened the Little Feat tour to promote the album.
Yet, Robert Palmer's body of work had just begun as his long and successful relationship with Island Records would span over two decades. His next album in 1976 titled "Some People Can Do What They Like" continued to set the trend of using the same players as featured on his first two albums. Plus, his skill as a writer of ballads became apparent. A short period later and after moving to the Bahamas, Palmer's appreciation of Caribbean influenced music was highlighted in his commercial breakthrough album titled "Double Fun." This 1978 album is recommended for everyone's library and produced the Andy Fraser penned hit single "Every Kinda People". This marked Palmer's most successful release to date by charting at #16 on Billboard's chart. "Secrets" was released in 1979 and recorded at Compass Point Studio in Nassau, Bahamas. The album produced the hit single "Bad Case of Lovin' You" (Doctor, Doctor) which became one of Palmer's signature tunes while reaching #14 on the U.S. charts. "Secrets" also produced additional hits while the LP was very deep with artistic influence. Yet, Robert Palmer was just rolling up his sleeves with much more to follow.
1985 was a triumphant year for Palmer as he released the album "Riptide". Almost immediately a groundswell of interest began to develop. The LP produced the monster #1 single "Addicted to Love." The song was originally recorded with Chaka Kahn sharing lead vocals but due to contractual issues with her record company, she was removed from the track and the rest is history. This time Robert Palmer's good looks and rock production video was a perfect fit for MTV as the album hit # 8 on the Billboard chart. The album also produced the Earl King penned song "Trick Bag". Plus additional hits such as "Hyperactive", "Woke Up Laughing","I Didn't Mean To Turn You On" and "Disipline Of Love".
Phillip Rauls and Robert Palmer share a smile over a well deserved team effort. Robert Palmer and Phillip were reconnected on the "Riptide" album project for the first time since the Vinegar Joe days back at Atlantic Records.