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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hewn From The Living Vinyl via New Orleans

Because he was talented and good looking, Robert Palmer got the full treatment from Island in 1974. He said he wanted to record in New Orleans with the Meters and Lowell George and so they arranged it. These were the guys that everybody wanted to sound like in the early ’70s because they seemed to have a handle on a strain of funk that was polished but rootsy at the same time. Most of the songs on "Sneaking Sally Through The Alley" were provided by the likes of Little Feat and Allen Toussaint but this track "Get Outside" was his stab at writing in the same vernacular. They were the sort of band that proved the old adage "nobody's actually playing what you're hearing". And on vinyl it still sounds fantastic.


  1. Thanks for recording this track. I enjoyed finding it again,but I'm going to put a slightly dissenting voice in here.

    I bought this and subsequent Robert Palmer albums, but although every girl I ever met (and also later, my wife) adored them and already had them, they don't cut it for me.

    I listened to this download to see if I'd changed my mind, but I still feel the same, slighty unsatisfied, vibe (sorry...) that I remembered from the last time.

    Same goes for albums by all those great UK voices that got taken across the water for the treatment. Frankie Miller, Jess Roden, Andy Fairweather Lowe, and especially Dusty In Memphis. (I never bought that album & after many years and its inevitable, unfailing appearance on the 'all time' lists of the usual great and good, I finally paid up for it to see if I'd been wrong. Extended version and all. Sorry, but excluding Preacher Man and a couple of others, it's really not that good as an album, as one coherent piece of product. Windmills Of Your Mind?...)

    Something isn't right about most of these concoctions, including Sneaking Sally, in the same way. Yes, these singers had the right idea and were way ahead of the competition at at the time and yes, they played a great role in introducing Alan Toussaint, Liitle Feat and great American session players/artists in their own right, to UK rock fans, (& that isn't a condescending remark). I still have a number of Toussaint albums, all bought in a short period after Southern Nights came out. Perhaps it was Robert Palmer that stirred the interest in a name that I knew of, but had nothing on the shelf by. I had owned Lee Dorsey records since I was a 15 year old clubber, but didn't piece that & New Orleans all together until much later.

    What do I think wasn't right?
    They just didn't have that comfortable ease that makes a great record greater than the rest. None awkward, but none at ease. The albums had all the components, they assembled them in the correct fashion, they had the upfront lookers on the sleeves, but they kind of ended up as the De Laurian sportscars of their day. A great idea, sold a few, but nobody actually needs them any more. People pay more for an old MGB GT these days. Made traditionally in Britain. (There's an inept analogy for you). Really, they were all slightly out of place, like those public school kids in a comprehensive for the purposes of a TV show last week.

    I know, you couldn't possibly expect a young UK singer to go to America, straight into the studios where their own revered legends had made, or were making their favourite music and feel at ease or as if it were second nature. They still had to come home and play it live with UK musicians. Perhaps I'm being too aware of what was actually happening and applying it too literally to my own take on those albums. A million ladies of a certain age will differ strongly.

    But I still think none of them really achieved greatness by the exercise.

    I'm sure there are plenty of examples that blow my theory into the water - and they'll turn up shortly.

    Whatever you think,I reckon there's a good story in all of this. Can white men sing the expensively funded soul/funk/blues for more than one album before the accountants get hold of it?

  2. Love this album. It's always fun putting it on at gatherings and waiting for the inevitable "Who's this then?" question. No-one ever believes it really is "the Addicted To Love guy". Most of them then go and buy Little Feat albums, mind.

  3. Graham9:38 pm

    Oh why can't I download this? I couldn't download your last one either. I managed the Road Trip, though, What am I doing wrong? I've tried Firefox and Internet Explorer. I get a big file (called 'launch.php') but can't open it.

  4. graham10:46 am

    Silly me. It appears that I downloaded 2 files 'launch' and the mp3. Only just found this. It means I've missed out on the latest offerings, but I'm on the lookout for the next one ;o)