“Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley" is an absolute must hear, and not just for the seamless transition back to the Meters and Lowell George backed band, but for the vocal workout that Palmer puts into this Toussaint cover. Palmer completely owns this track, his vocal coaxes and growls propelling the band to stratospheric energy and dynamic interplay. Anyone who is a fan of music should listen to this song, it’s one of the few things Phish did right in bringing attention to a whole new world of fans, but they will never match this groove.
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.