Sunday, July 12, 2009

Robert Palmer - Clues

When Robert Palmer suffered a fatal heart attack in September of the year 2003, pop music critics Jim Derogatis and Greg Kot from Sound Opinions, The World's Only Rock 'n Roll Talk Show, were there to give Palmer his due as a man whose work contained more true artistic merit than much of his audience has ever been aware of.

Exhibit A: "Johnny & Mary," a tragic tale of tattered romance set to a driving drum beat and an occasionally minimalist synth arrangement. Oh, the such great heights that this slice of catchy new wave pop manages to soar to. It's no wonder that those pied pipers Placebo were inspired to initiate a full-scale reevaluation of Palmer's entire recorded output. Guess you missed the boat by a few months, Jim and Greg. Thanks for playing!

Palmer doesn't exactly spend the rest of Clues wildly shitting out his very own McCartney II, but there are nevertheless a number of surprises that make this a more eclectic and subversive listen than one might expect. Witness opener "Looking For Clues," where a herky jerky keyboard/muted guitar/something riff provides the basis for an upbeat soul pop number full of octave vocal doublings and 4 second staccato synth jab breaks. In fact, you'd swear it was... something off of McCartney II. If it didn't sound like a finished song made by a relatively stable human being, I mean. Chris Frantz is credited with "bass drum."

Elsewhere you have Gary Numan guesting on a cover of his own song, a radio ready rendition of the Beatles' "Not A Second Time" with a ridiculous synth solo in the middle, and several originals that are just fine, really. A stylistically dynamic 31 minutes. Idiosyncratic production all around, plus the joy of hearing a soulful pop craftsman launching this usually pretty dorky Devo/Kraftwerk/Squeeze pussy music into slightly unexpected territory.

Rating: It's no Voices. Still, another really, really enjoyable album from Robert Palmer.

Download Link: "Looking For Clues"... can you imagine somebody in 1980 throwing this shit on after Dirty Mind? Kind of?

1 comment:

Joe said...

I got a mix CD from a pen pal dated August 2001 with that Placebo cover on it. This was while J&G were on 24 hour Yankee Hotel Foxtrot watch so I guess they can hardly be blamed for not covering anything else.