Tag Archives: Robert Palmer

Rocks In The Attic #770: Robert Palmer – ‘Riptide’ (1985)

RITA#770Addicted To Love: the sound of mid-80s AOR. It’s the kind of song we would hear on Atlantic 252, while driving around North Wales on family holidays. This, Simply Red and late-period Genesis became the accidental soundtrack to the towns of Prestatyn, Rhyl and Llandudno.

I recently met a colleague at work who was born and raised in Mold, just over the border into North Wales from Chester. We’ve been reminiscing about Rhyl, and how it was just the best place for kids in the 1980s. The Rhyl Sun Centre almost felt futuristic, with its car rides descending from the ceiling, and its wave pool that seems par for the course in today’s leisure centres. Alongside its funfair – a scaled-down version of Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach – Rhyl even had a monorail along its waterfront. However, the project descended into bankruptcy just a few weeks after its opening in 1980, and abruptly closed.

RITA#770aRobert Palmer’s catchy rock-by-numbers anthem reminds me of those days, of riding around the BMX course on Rhyl’s seafront, or going down the Sun Centre’s tube-slides. My parents owned a static caravan on a site in Gronant, just outside Prestatyn, which we used to go to on weekends between Spring and Autumn.

Those times make up some of my happiest childhood memories. The local arcade had the original Star Wars game in which you sat inside an X-Wing flying across the Death Star, one of the local café’s introduced me to the joy of toasted currant teacakes, and I used to regularly play with a friend and his sister, recreating scenes from our favourite sci-fi show V. Happy days.

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The music video for Addicted To Love deserves a mention too; one of the most iconic videos of the original MTV era. Not a great deal happens in the video, it’s essentially a performance piece. Palmer performs the song backed by a band of attractive models who are wearing heavy lipstick and tied-back hair. This look pays homage to the art of Patrick Nagel, the original artist behind Duran Duran’s Rio sleeve. It’s a joy to watch.

Hit: Addicted To Love

Hidden Gem: Hyperactive

NOTE TO THR: DO NOT REUSE AFTER 2/16/19_ONE TIME USE WITH CONTRACT FROM PLAYBOY

Rocks In The Attic #608: Various Artists – ‘True Romance (O.S.T.)’ (1993)

RITA#608.jpgIn the early 1990s, director Tony Scott was handed a piece of gold dust. Quentin Tarantino, a cocky, young up-start had been circling Hollywood for a few years trying to develop his first script, True Romance. Tarantino decided to sell the script, and Warner Brothers snapped it up greedily. In hindsight it would have been too large a project for a first-time director anyway.

Instead Tarantino turned his attention to his next script, a simpler heist story called Reservoir Dogs. This would have been an easier film to pitch with him as director – the heist is never seen, only referred to, and much of the film takes place in one location.

By the time he was handed Tarantino’s script, Tony Scott was already a blockbuster director, arguably more commercially successful than his older brother Ridley. While Ridley had scored critical successes with Alien and Blade Runner, Scott had directed Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II and Days Of Thunder. His collaborations with super-producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer say more about his directing style than anything else.

True Romance then, becomes the lost Tarantino picture. His trademark dialogue is evident throughout the film – all pop-culture references and cooler than cool soundbites – but Scott’s input muddies the water somewhat. The cinematographers that Scott worked with throughout his ‘80s and ‘90s films had a very peculiar style. Lots of obtrusive close-ups, too many filtered interiors, and a very synthetic, staged camera set-up. By the time you get to something like 1996’s The Fan, the cinematography is so overbearing that the film is practically unwatchable.

Looking back, True Romance has one of the greatest ensemble casts of all time, featuring several actors who would go onto bigger things. Joining leads Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette were Michael Rapaport, Bronson Pinchot, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Samuel L. Jackson and a pre-Sopranos James Gandolfini.

RITA#608aThe soundtrack also differs from most Tarantino films in that it has both a pop soundtrack and an original score, by Hans Zimmer (the only soundtrack of Tarantino’s to mix pop songs with an original score is The Hateful Eight). Zimmer’s score is delightful – practically a proto-Thomas Newman score before he rewrote the rulebook on esoteric, oddball soundtracks with 1996’s American Beauty.

Some of the pop songs wouldn’t be out of place on a Tarantino soundtrack. Charlie Sexton’s Graceland, Robert Palmer’s (Love Is) The Tender Trap and Chris Isaak’s Two Hearts feel like they belong in QT’s record collection, but mediocre tracks like Charles & Eddie’s Wounded Bird and John Waite’s In Dreams reminds you that this really is just a typical run of the mill blockbuster soundtrack, and wasn’t curated in any way by Tarantino. Even Soundgarden’s Outshined sounds a little too obvious. The absence of Aerosmith’s The Other Side – presumably due to rights reasons – is personally disappointing, but it would have just dated the soundtrack even more.

Hit: Outshined – Soundgarden

Hidden Gem: Graceland – Charlie Sexton

Rocks In The Attic #538: Robert Palmer – ‘Double Fun’ (1978)

RITA#583
Now this fella had a good voice. I remember shopping in Kingbee Records in Manchester on the morning that I heard he had died, and toying with the idea of buying one of his records. I didn’t buy it in the end. I hadn’t heard anything by him other than the ubiquitous late ‘80s singles Addicted To Love and Simply Irresistible, and surely I wouldn’t appreciate a full album of his yuppy rock songs.

I don’t think I ever saw any of his records in the wild again until I picked this up – studio album number four. It’s a damn good record, and Palmer’s blue-eyed soul voice is really a wonderful thing. Genre-wise, it reminds me of early Hot Chocolate – a poppy mixture of groove-based rock and grown up soul and R&B. Anybody with the confidence to work up a decent funk version of the Kinks’ You Really Got Me is worth more than five minutes of my time.

By this stage, Palmer wasn’t pulling in the likes of the Meters or Little Feat to back him in the studio, as on his first two records. I don’t immediately recognise any of the musicians who contributed to the sessions, but there are definitely a lot of them – twenty nine players in total – suggesting that the sessions were a casual, unstructured affair.

Hit: Every Kinda People

Hidden Gem: Come Over

Rocks In The Attic #375: Rod Stewart – ‘Every Beat Of My Heart’ (1986)

RITA#375Somebody’s been listening to Kate Bush and Robert Palmer, haven’t they? Opener Here To Eternity takes more than a little of inspiration from Bush’s Running Up That Hill. Second song Another Heartache borrows the drum sound from Palmer’s Addicted To Love. The chorus of Who’s Gonna Take Me Home (The Rise And Fall Of A Budding Gigolo) even borrows from Ray Charles’ Hit The Road Jack. Is there anything original on this record at all?

I’m not surprised though. Rod Stewart: king of the cover version. The last time he had an original thought was probably sometime in the late 1970s when he decided to forfeit a promising rock career to go down the lazy entertainer route, a cabaret act for the 1980s and beyond.

I got this record in a job lot I inherited from somewhere. I would burn it record if it were not for the fact that the inner sleeve is signed by guitarist Jim Cregan. It says “Cheers Andy, Jim Cregan”, so I’ll save it from a fiery death. You’re welcome, Jim.

Hit: Every Beat Of My Heart

Hidden Gem: In My Life