Robert Palmer

Addictions, Vol. 1

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Thanks in part to Robert Palmer's hand in the process of compiling Addictions, Vol. 1, this early best-of is a fine peek into the musical passions that made Palmer tick. The 13 songs that make up the collection are mostly first-rate, and at the very least they present to a newcomer the eclecticism and style that made Palmer so consistently interesting. Since its genesis was 1989, the highlighted albums are Palmer's Island releases from 1978 to 1988: Double Fun, Secrets, Clues, Maybe It's Live, Pride, Riptide, Heavy Nova, and the soundtrack to Sweet Lies. Appropriately, the thundering, menacing "Some Like It Hot" from the Power Station's debut is included, though it's somewhat of a mystery as to why the band's T. Rex cover, "Get It On (Bang a Gong)," doesn't make an appearance. Only that song and "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" seem like obvious omissions. The latter would appear on the remix-heavy Addictions, Vol. 2, but the former wouldn't appear on a career sampler until 1997's The Very Best of Robert Palmer. Otherwise, the collection is nearly perfect. "Addicted to Love" and its sort-of sequel, "Simply Irresistible," will placate U.S. fans who know Palmer mostly for his popular rock songs. "Pride," "Woke Up Laughing," and "What's It Take?" represent the one-time Bahamian citizen's dabbling in world music. The version of "Woke Up Laughing" included here is the 1988 edition, with its more upbeat and catchy tones. One could argue that the original 1979 version should have been included as well; the two would be paired together as one seamless track on 1998's fine world music collection Woke Up Laughing. Palmer's lo-fi period, when he experimented with sequencers and off-kilter rhythms, is represented by "Looking for Clues" and the essential, touching "Johnny & Mary." Making the package even more special are Palmer's personal notes about each song in the 18-page booklet included with the album. His love of music and dedication to his craft jump off the page and give a fascinating sense of context to each song in the collection. Addictions, Vol. 1 is about as addictive as popular music gets.

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