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"…You’ll Know Me Better…" – Secrets/Clues/Maybe It’s Live by ROBERT PALMER (2013 Remasters)
on 24 March 2014
After stints with THE ALAN BOWN in the Sixties, DADA in 1970 and three albums with VINEGAR JOE (featuring Elkie Brooks) between 1972 and 1973 – ROBERT PALMER was finally ready to go Solo. I’ve already reviewed Volumes 1 with "Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley" and "Pressure Drop" and Volume 2 with "Some People Can Do What They Want" and "Double Trouble". This 2CD reissue on Demon's Edsel label celebrates the next stage – his 5th, 6th and 7th albums.
UK released 26 August 2013 - Edsel EDSK 7039 (Barcode 740155703936) breaks down as follows:
Disc 1 (71:38 minutes)
Tracks 1 to 11 are his 5th studio solo LP "Secrets" – UK released June 1979 on Island ILPS 9544
Track 12 is a BONUS TRACK - the 12" Mix of "Bad Case Of Loving You (Doctor Doctor" – it was originally featured on the "Addictions" Best Of LP and CD in 1989 as a 'Remix'
Tracks 13 to 20 are his 6th studio solo LP "Clues" – UK released August 1980 on Island ILPS 9595
Disc 2 (48:14 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 3 are BONUS TRACKS – "Good Care Of You" (Non-Album B-side of the November 1980 “Looking For Clues” 12" Single on Island WIP12 6651), "Johnny And Mary (Alternate Take)" and "What Do You Care (Alternate Mix)"
Tracks 4 to 13 are his 7th solo LP – the live set "Maybe It's Live" – UK released April 1982 on Island ILPS 9665
Fans will also know that outside of the "Gold" anthology on Universal – Palmer’s Island catalogue has been languishing without remasters for decades. Although it doesn’t say who mastered these album at Universal – they’re licensed from the Music Giant and the sound quality is leagues ahead of the dull Eighties discs we’d had for years. One reviewer is ranting on about MP3 files but I don't hear anything of the sort - and if these are sourced from Universal's 2006 remasters for "Gold" then they are vast improvements on what we had before.
The outer card wrap is generic to all these Edsel reissues and certainly gives the whole thing a classy feel. The chunky 32-page booklet is substantial – pictures of the albums, recording studio shots, colour publicity stuff, lyrics to both albums, live photos in colour and black and white, affectionate and knowledgeable liner notes by CHRIS JONES – (same as all the others) it’s a bang-up job done.
I loved "Secrets" as a whole album – it's chockers full of great tunes done in his Soulful Funky Rock style. "What's It Take" (lyrics above) has graced many a Seventies Fest CD-R of mine while Jo Allen’s brilliantly catchy Motels rock of "Jealous" is the same. Speaking of Rock – his cover of Moon Martin's "Bad Case Of Loving You (Doctor Doctor)" is a bona fide smash. But again it's his interpretations of Todd Rundgren's gorgeous "Can We Still Be Friends?" and Andy Fraser's (of Free) equally melodic "Mean Old World" that impress - "Mean Old World" managing to be upbeat and hopeful when talking about tough domestic stuff.
1980's "Clues" seemed to anticipate the sound of the decade ahead and took a quantum leap into electronics and succeeded. I can remember being in a London nightclub when the DJ let rip "Looking For Clues" – the floor just went mad – bopping themselves into a lather. And his "Johnny And Mary" is truly one of 'the' great Eighties singles – up there with Kate Bush, Talk Talk and Prefab Sprout. Gary Numan fans will also dig the two collusions on here – “I Dream Of Wires” and the cool finisher “Found You Know”.
The live set "Maybe It's Live" always left me cold and re-hearing it now doesn’t change that. The band may be tight but the vocals are awful – way back in the mix and the whole feels like contractual crap that everyone can do without.
The 3 bonus tracks are interesting – especially the 'Alternate' of "Johnny And Mary" where more layers of synths are audible as is his still-working-out-the-lyrics mumbling. The B-side “Good Care Of You” is a great fan addition and goes some way to rescuing Disc 2 from the dreadful live set.
I’ve always thought Robert Palmer was a class act – not just as singer – but also as a vessel for other people’s songs – and the two studio sets on these 2 CDs provide wads of both. But the overall show has to docked a star for that unnecessary turkey on Disc 2…
Having said that - there’s a lot of primo Robert Palmer on here for the money and I for one am glad to be rehearing it in such style…