I initially knew Robert Palmer as the nattily dressed heartthrob behind The Power Station and the “Addicted To Love” and “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On” videos. So what a surprise to me when I grew up, further explored his work, and discovered that he was one of the most adventurous blue eyed soul singers of the late ‘70s and ‘80s. He may have achieved his greatest fame with shiny pop/rock, but over the course of his career, Palmer explored hard rock, new wave, synth-pop, swampy funk, soul crooning and lounge singing.
“Every Kinda People” was Palmer’s first major hit, placing in the pop top 20 in 1978. The hook (and lyrical conceit) have been familiar to me for quite some time, so I’m not actually sure how I initially ingested the song. It’s been covered enough times that I may have heard a remake before hearing Palmer’s original. Regardless of when I initially came into contact with “Every Kinda People”, though, I distinctly remember falling in love with it via a live version I heard at my friend Matt’s house when I was visiting him in Cleveland maybe a decade ago. You can’t go wrong with the feel-good message of inclusivity, that island-spiced groove and Palmer’s soulful singing.
NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…
“Escapade” (Janet Jackson, 1989) : Control and Rhythm Nation were fun, but they were also pretty heavy. “When I Think Of You” and “Escapade” are outliers on those albums-no sexual subtext, no political subtext, just plain fun. Which actually knocks them down half a step in my book. Janet’s at her absolute best with a purpose beyond just having fun. “Escapade” is effervescent, pure pop. And it’s great! Just not perfect.
“Ever The Same” (Rob Thomas, 2005): Fantastically written, down-tempo pop/rock that would have been a stone smash in 1989 or 1991, not so much in 2005 (although it was a fairly big radio hit).