Elton John owned 70’s music, easily the highest selling artist of that decade and the man behind such hits as “Bennie and the Jets”, “Crocodile Rock” “Tiny Dancer” and “Rocket Man” to name a few. Lost in the shuffle however was his most challenging and gorgeous early effort, the concept album Tumbleweed Connection released in 1970, which profiled the myths of the American west. Perhaps the finest gem of the bunch is “Love Song” which finds John only backed by some breathtaking harmonies and lovely guitar playing. I’ve also decided to include “Burn Down the Mission” another epic off of Tumbleweed Connection as well as a fine cover of The Rolling Stones “Honky Tonk Women” from his underrated 11-17-70 live album.
To many people, Robert Palmer represents the power of MTV when music videos were in their heyday, a man whose sartorial talents were the great substance behind numbers like “Simply Irresistable” and “Addicted To Love”. Both numbers are products of their time and suffer greatly as a result, propelled by the videos of attractive women peddling instruments as sex machines and little else. But that was before I discovered Robert Palmer, the same Robert Palmer whose fame was a product of the badly aged MTV generation, had a much more compelling career before ever making it big.
One of the most amazing facts of stumbling upon his 1974 release Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley is the fact that this little known expat managed to lock down both The Meters and members of Little Feat, along with session greats like Cornell Dupree and Bernard Purdie to back him through an extraordinarily funky trip down NOLA inspired, hot-laced grooves. Palmer oozes charisma, and he makes clear right away that he is an excellent interpreter of other’s songs, feeling comfortable handling everything from Little Feat drug odes to Allen Toussaint R&B, mixing in his own songs with nary a change of pace.