Record of the Day: Robert Palmer, "Double Fun"

Record of the Day: Robert Palmer, “Double Fun”

Robert Palmer
Double Fun (Cd Island PSCD-1147)

A sudden cardiac arrest took away one of the most beautiful voices in the world of music in 2003. Robert Palmer was one of the most talented exponents of the musical movement hastily called blue-eyed soul, a definition that denoted a certain arrogance towards white-skinned performers dedicated to a genre dominated by African-American performers. In reality, Palmer has explored many musical territories, moving from funk to electronica, from heavy metal to bossa nova, combining often antithetical artistic tendencies with the magical fil rouge of his voice.
However, his first records can easily be attributed to the world of soul music despite not lacking Caribbean and Jamaican touches (as in the single “Best of Both Worlds” taken from this album).

His music is mainly made for fun and brings together some of the best musicians on the American scene, from Little Feat to the Meters, from the Brecker Brothers to Lowell George and Bernard Edwards. Equipped with a performance class that feared few comparisons, Palmer was the author of very effective compositions built on sophisticated harmonic turns grafted onto grooves that quickly insinuated themselves into the memory and where his vocal superpositions, created in five or six parts with authentic skill, stood out.

“Double Fun” is according to many his best album and sees the collaboration of the usual army of super-instrumentalists as well as the supervision of Tom Moulton, also the famous producer of Grace Jones' first recording exploits (remember “La Vie En Rose”?) who further highlights the traces of this work.

The influence of musicians like the Spinners and Thom Bell is evident, but Palmer always manages to avoid the trap of imitation thanks to a personal vocalism, whether he revisits with skill and taste pages like “Every Kinda People” by Andy Fraser, ” You Really Got Me” by the Kinks (in a surprising version with a peppery funky flavour) and “Night People” by Allen Toussaint, both dealing with pieces of his own composition such as “Come over” and the more rocking “You're Gonna Get What's Coming”. There is no shortage of reggae hints in “Love Can Run Faster”, while.
“You Overwhelm Me” recalls the sumptuous string arrangements created by Gene Page, already present in the previous album “Pressure Drop”.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.