Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Robert Palmer

  • Some People Can Do What They Like [Island, 1976] C+
  • Riptide [Island, 1985] C+
  • "Addictions" Volume 1 [Island, 1989] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Some People Can Do What They Like [Island, 1976]
My guess is that Palmer dresses classy as a subterfuge, to make people think that subdued quality is deliberate. Instead he's convinced me that I'll get off on a white r&b singer from Savile Row the same day I give up Jack Daniel's for sherry and join the Dartmouth Club. C+

Riptide [Island, 1985]
If we're to take the old fashion plate at his word (yeah sure), his pop breakthrough (finally! after all those good reviews!) was inspired by an affair with a high roller--holdings in Singapore and IBM, great dancer, like that. Sounds daunting, I must say. And as usual, what makes him barely listenable is his holdings in r&b. C+

"Addictions" Volume 1 [Island, 1989]
Is this fraud really the Dorian Gray wannabee of jacket photos? I don't know, and unless the women he beds are a lot more interesting than the models who populate his videos, I don't even want you to tell me. Rather than a tax-exiled roue, I prefer to imagine him as a secret straight who takes the fast train to his modest Surrey estate after a hard day's posing in London, arriving in time for a civilized dinner with wife and children before plopping in front of the VCR with a bottle of cognac. Honesty compels me to acknowledge, however, that my wife doesn't think he's a fraud--once spied him buying groceries just around the corner, and liked what she saw. In a world where male rock critics get Sheena Easton and Kim Gordon--who owns Palmer's only great song, "Addicted to Love," the way Junior Tucker owns "Some Guys Get All the Luck"--she's got a right. But I still give the grades around here. B-

Further Notes:

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]