Saturday, October 04, 2003

When I was writing about Duran Duran the other day, I neglected to touch on two other topics I'd intended to, those of Robert Palmer and the fabulous Girls Aloud cover of "Girls on Film."

I believe it was Tom Ewing over at New York London Paris Munich who first suggested that the Girls doing "Girls" basically sounds like them just topping the original track with their own vocals. He's right. There's not much for innovation or shock of the new here, apart from simply hearing girls (and Girls) singing "Girls." But in this case, that's all it needs, and works a charm; "Film" at 11. [Not nearly as brill as "Sound of the Underground," though, which still hasn't received (and likely never will) a U.S. release - but will likely still end up in my year-end top 20.]

Robert Palmer died of a heart attack in Paris last week, while I was on vacation. It's sad that his death was treated by much of the media as a footnote - "oh, that guy from the '80s died today" - because Palmer deserved better. He did a fair bit of interesting work as a solo artist. Riptide, his '86 blockbuster featuring "Addicted to Love," actually holds up as an album, especially due to his superb cover of Cherrelle's "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On." Earlier in his career, he was doing both rockier and more experimental stuff (such as 1980's Clues, largely recorded with Gary Numan, and his mid-'70s reggae-influenced work recorded in Jamaica). As he slid into the '90s, he slowed down, doing more adult contemporary-type stuff (like his cover of Marvin Gaye's "Mercy Mercy Me," ably done) and even tackling Tin Pan Alley standards on '92's "Ridin' High." But I've always felt Palmer never got his just due for his work with Power Station. Power Station took Duran Duran's modus operandi in a more overtly commercial direction, but interestingly, as well, with beefed-up funk (courtesy of the involvment of Chic skinsman Tony Thompson and the production of Bernard Edwards) and rock (the Taylors getting their schwerve on). Vocalizing suavely atop it, Palmer flexed his considerable muscles to complete the package. Not only did they get two top 10 singles out of the deal ("Some Like It Hot" and their T.Rex cover, "Get It On (Bang A Gong)"), but a surprisingly great album of tough, funked-up '80s pop-rock in the process ("Communication" and their Isleys cover, "Harvest for the World," have always been my highlights). I dare you to tell me that Hot Hot Heat don't have just a little Power Station in them. Robert, R.I.P. I hope you're enjoying the leggy ladies as much in heaven as you did on earth.

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