Friday Night Concert “Two-fer”: Robert Palmer and Marvin Gaye


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Takes Every Kind of People to Make the World Go Round

I started searching for a live music clip to post for this week’s Friday Night Concert feature and bounced from Genesis (when Phil C. was still behind the kit) to Queen to Men at Work. Thought about another Midnight Oil, because there are several just as good as “Beds Are Burning,” which I posted a couple weeks back and readers really seemed to like.  Instead, I wound up looking at old Robert Palmer performances.  Of them, his song, “Everyday People” says more about him as an artist than any of his commercial smashes.

I miss Robert Palmer.  He was a quintessential professional. Everything from his incredible technique, to his appearance onstage was slick and tight, yet deeply nuanced.  He didn’t depend on theatrics, over-the top staging or cheap tricks.  It was always about the music…and that deeply expressive voice.

I saw him once at the Ohio State Fair.  Don’t laugh-it’s a decent venue, indoors, with good sight lines and reasonably good acoustics.  They used to draw big names, for years, until recently cutting back. In years past, I’d seen Al Jarreau, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Ringo’s All-Stars (a real treat) and many other great bands. When my kids were small, I stood in line 3 hours to get M.C. Hammer (in his prime) tickets. I gotta’ admit, MC turned it out. I was hell-bent NOT to enjoy it but did.  So did my kids.

This particular tour was  maybe 6 years before Robert’s untimely death.   My expectations were high. The show was simply sublime. Among the best live performances I ever witnessed….a top-flight band, each song carefully paced and performed to the nines, Robert with an indefatigable,  effervescent, stage presence. From what I had read, this is what one expected and got each and every time they saw him perform live.  He left little to chance.  He left audiences wanting more but completely satisfied with what he had given them. I certainly felt I had gotten WAY more than my money’s worth.  No s**t–it was astounding.

Most people recall his iconic music videos with the band of babes. He indeed knew how to make hits. Eye-catching and foot-tapping as they were,  that was  the tip of the iceberg with Robert Palmer.  It was actually a bit of a fluke, because Robert preferred to be out of the limelight.  He  took artistic chances few other pop stars of his time would dare. robert-palmer-hs

His life and career, although cut short, was nevertheless impressive.

I have most of his stuff on vinyl and I keep my LPs in good shape.  I hold onto turntables and every so often am compelled listen to the original, analog “floppy disk,” which I still prefer to many digital recordings–perhaps because they’re nostalgic but it could be because many of them sound better to me than their CD-released versions.

Upon seeing this and the other clips I auditioned to pick this one, I think it’s time to descend my basement steps to leaf through the “P”s.  Hope you enjoy the clip as much as I do.

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marvin_gaye

Damn. I just stumbled across a Robert Palmer cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy, Mercy Me,” which he morphs into “I Want You.” Nice as it was, I got a hankering for the real thing.

So here’s Marvin Gaye, another pop goldmine snatched from us way too soon, singing two of my favorites in a medley “Mercy. Mercy, Me” and “What’s Goin’ On?”  I could riff on Marvin until you have to muzzle me, so I’ll save the article for future use.

For now, though, enjoy this “two-fer.” Enjoy your week-end.

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