Robert Palmer’s Long Neglected Drive

In the pop culture zeitgeist, Robert Palmer is best known for his mid 80s domination of MTV with hits like “Simply Irresistible,” and the inescapable “Addicted To Love.” Before his, MTV assisted, 80s heyday Palmer was a successful artist with a few hits to his name. Someone who’s, blues, funk, and r&b influenced records sold reasonably well. if not exceptional Palmer and his career was nothing if not solid. It wasn’t until he released “Addicted To Love” from 1986’s Riptide that Palmer saw his career go stratospheric.

Others saw it too. Thanks to the power of MTV, the video for “Addicted To Love,” which featured a slickly dressed Palmer backed by a model-eque all female band saw heavy play on the channel. Palmer took this success and ran with it. Like any self respected rockstar he joined a supergroup, featuring members of Duran Duran and Chic -though to be fair Palmer did this before Riptide was officially released-, as well as continuing to release, relatively, well received solo albums. By the turn of the millennium Palmer’s commercial prospects had waned, but he remained an established, well respected, musician and performer. Which brings us to what would end up being Palmer’s final release, 2003’s Drive.

Album: Drive
Release Date: 2003
Track Listing
Mama Talk To Your Daughter
Why Get Up?
Who’s Foolin’ Who?
Am I Wrong
TV Dinners
Dr. Zhivago’s Train
Ain’t That Just Like A Woman
Hound Dog
Crazy Cajun Cake Walk Band
I Need Your Love So Bad
20 Ways
It Hurts Me Too
Stupid Cupid
Milkcow’s Calf Blues

Drive is an excitingly electric collection of hooky songs. The tracks run the gamut from barroom stompers, with the guitar and drums laying down a quick beat, to slower numbers that fall more into the blues genre. Of course, iTunes has the album categorized as pop, which makes a certain kind of sense when you consider that, even as popular tastes shifted, Palmer remained an artist capable of producing remarkably catchy songs

These, well honed, pop instincts are perhaps best illustrated by the notable absence of longer songs. The lengthiest songs on Drive, “Stella” and Dr. Zhivago’s Train, both come in at 3:58 apiece. Despite the tracks’ brevity none of the songs included feel tossed off, or rushed. The enthusiasm Palmer, and the accompanying musicians, have for the material keeps the listener engaged. Drive’s final five tracks, in particular, are a real treat with the album’s penultimate track, “Stupid Cupid,” being a personal favorite of mine.

Unfortunately Palmer passed away shortly after the release of Drive. Meaning that Drive, if known for anything, is known as a historical footnote, rather than an excellent album of music. Currently, Amazon has the album listed for $1.30 (used copies from independent sellers only). Making it both economical and listenable.



One thought on “Robert Palmer’s Long Neglected Drive

  1. I’ll have to check this out. Gave me a good memory-seeing Robert Palmer in a small club in DC after release of Sneakin Sally through the alley.Congratulations on using zeitgeist


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