Review: Caroline Sullivan, Melody Maker Nov 1985

HOW are superstar collaborations born? It must have been mind-bending firewater that induced Robert Palmer to suggest a “project” to John and Andy Taylor. Now that the Durans have been left to their own devices. Anyone who first heard the hapless Palmer on “Some Like It Hot” will here find confirmation of just how influential he was to The Power Station’s sound.

Long-term fans, whose admiration for Palmer has always verged on the reverent (I remember a WNEW DJ reciting, on the air, the entire lyrics to “Johnny And Mary”), could tell ‘em that he’s been mining the same groove for years. Now bluesish, now light skanking, he’s been here before, although it will all undoubtedly seem crackingly fresh to neophytes unaccustomed to vocalists of Palmer’s strength and distinctiveness.

A couple of Power Stations out-takes (they’re not? They may was well be), “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On” and “Flesh Would”, are most representative of Palmer losing the usual confrontation with his better judgment. The unbelievably tedious funk arrangements bury his voice at the bottom of the mix – another case of white boy with soul aspirations and pop capabilities.

Accordingly, the best moments come during the brief languorous title track and on “Get It Through Your Heart” and “Trick Bag”, during which producer Bernard Edwards lays off for a while and lets Palmer’s innate sophistication and poise predominate. These are grown-up songs, and perhaps won’t appeal to the demi-yobs who will buy the record for the presence of Andy Taylor on the gross rock workout, “Addicted To Love”.
Palmer is one of the few contemporary pop vocalists capable of evoking, on a ballad like “Riptide”, that early era when landing a record deal was contingent on an ability to sing. Verily, on the aforementioned three numbers, it does seem like punk never happened.

The remainder of the act is fragmented, with a couple of tracks given over to sturm and drang rock numbers that surely took a wrong turn on their way to Huey Lewis, and the others vaguely, drearily funky.
“Flesh Wound” is, in fact, one of the worth exponents of the latter genre I’ve heard since Perry Haines, pre-King, released “So Hot”. Robert’s less a white punk on dope than a white drop on funk.

I’ll pass.