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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…
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on 13 September 2013
I am returning these CDs as they are made from mp3 files. Confirmed by the hard frequency cut at 16KHz. I ran Tau Analyzer and each track on both CDs is reported as made from mp3.
I am not going to buy any Edsel product ever again. At least they could have copied from existing CDs. This is a scam and I can't really explain why they did this; my only possible explanation is sheer incompetence.
I have bought the other Robert Palmer sets as well so I will post reviews on them as soon as I check the discs.
UPDATE: Each and every track on the 8 CDs of these four sets is made from mp3 files. I hope Edsel goes out of business soon and I am saying this as a customer, I have no other vested interest.

- Edsel doesn't state anywhere that the CDs are sourced from compressed files. Even if they had a particular reason to do so (which they didn't) they should have stated the fact in the notes. Their business practices are deceitful.
- Regardless of the fact that these CDs might be pleasurable to someone, removing all high frequency information has an impact on the audio quality that you will notice if you play them on a decent stereo system
- If you want to rip the CDs to mp3 files again to carry the music on a ipod/phone/etc you will have to run the mp3 compression a second time, which will result in very clearly noticeable audio degradation. This in itself is a reason why CDs should never be sourced from already compressed files.
99 Comments| 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I have found this series of Robert Palmer re-releases excellent - this one comprises three classic albums at a bargain price. I've read Andy's review here saying that this series is remastered from mp3 files and that they don't acknowledge it anywhere on the discs. If it is true (and he seems pretty definite about it) it is a shabby trick to play on the buying public, but I have to say that I haven't really noticed any problem with the sound quality. It may trouble some audiophiles, but I don't think it will be a problem for ordinary fans like me. I've just been enjoying these discs since I got them.

Here are his 1979 Secrets, the brilliant Clues from 1980 and Maybe It's Live from 1982. Robert Palmer fans won't need me to say much about these albums - for me, Clues especially is a truly great album (I think Johnny and Mary is one of the greatest songs of the 80s) and they have all stood up very well in the decades since their release. Secrets and Clues fit onto one CD, and there is plenty of room for bonus material on CD2 along with Maybe It's Live. Personally, I'm not that fussed about bonus material in general and I just wanted CD versions of the albums (I was still at the vinyl and cassette stage then), but a lot of people feel differently and I know many will appreciate the out-of-the-way stuff here.

There's not much point in banging on further, I think. I've had no problem with the quality, and you get one great album and two very fine ones at a ridiculously low price. Recommended.
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on 16 August 2016
Purchased to replace old vinyl. Secrets is vintage Palmer whilst Clues sees him embrace some of the new wave/sounds of british pop. It is an epic album. The 4 stars are because I've never rated the Maybe it's live album. There must be some better live stuff out there.
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on 26 April 2016
Not the best re-master but just love listening to his music!
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on 4 October 2013
Secrets includes "Bad Case Of Lovin' You". Clues includes "Johnny And Mary" with demo bonus tracks. Maybe It's Live was a concert recorded at Hammersmith Odeon with studio tracks that were outtakes from the Clues sessions.
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