Significant Songs (90)

Addicted To Love

I had always liked Robert Palmer. Other than the fact that he came from Yorkshire, I would quite like to have been just like him. Good-looking, sharp-suited, with hair that had just the right amount of style, without being too long. And he could sing too, and sing well. He was only three years older than me, so grew up around the same music scene, and seemed to like the same sort of music that I did.

He started singing whilst still at school, and eventually became lead vocalist of the reasonably successful group The Alan Bown Set, who had progressed from their start as a Blues band, to become one of the leading Soul music acts, by 1969. A year later, Palmer met renowned female vocalist Elkie Brooks, and in 1972, they formed the R&B touring band, Vinegar Joe. I saw this outfit at a club in London, and immediately recognised the singing talent of the little-known Palmer. Despite some moderate success, and the release of three albums, he was soon embarking on a solo career, and was signed to Island records, in 1974.

Working alongside such luminaries as Lowell George, and Allen Toussaint, he achieved some recognition in the USA, though not at first in his home country. However, by the 1980s, he was having chart success with a string of singles, including ‘Looking For Clues’, and ‘Johnny And Mary.’At the time, pop videos were becoming all-important for record promotion, and Palmer caught the mood, with his stylish appearance, and bluesy vocals backed by a driving beat. By 1985, he combined this new music style with a video of high quality, and enjoyed huge success with ‘Addicted To Love.’ This video was considered outrageous at the time, for its use of identically-dressed and made-up girls, who were obviously not really playing the instruments they were holding, but were purely there for ‘eye candy.’ Nonetheless, Palmer’s songs held up, and a similar video followed, this time for ‘Simply Irresistible.’

By the late 1990s, he seemed to have lost focus. After so long in the music business, his constant change of direction and musical style was confusing both his loyal fans, and any new audience alike.
In 2003, he died of a cardiac-related problem in a Paris hotel room. He was 54 years old.
Here is the video. It doesn’t seem at all outrageous now, does it?

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20 thoughts on “Significant Songs (90)

  1. Funny. I never liked Robert Palmer – not because I ever really listened to his music, but precisely because of that video. Those girls gave me the creeps. They did then and they still do. Something to do with their mute and almost robotic appearance. If I remember rightly, not smiling was kind of a thing back then, but… I dunno… those four gave me the creeps. Put me right off. I guess we’re all different 😉

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    1. The video did split opinions at the time, Ros, which is one of the reasons why I used it. Compared to today’s offerings, with swearing, overt sexuality, and violent crime references, it is somewhat innocuous, I think. I understand your reservations, though. Completely.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. Oh absolutely! It makes me sad that the music industry now capitalises so much on the sexuality of its young, female singers. I assume they don’t mind wearing next to nothing or they wouldn’t do it. But whatever happened to singing just simply because you enjoy singing and happen to be good at it?

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  2. I’m very familiar with both “Addicted to Love” and “Simply Irresistible,” and remember seeing Robert Palmer and the girls quite often on TV at the time. I didn’t know the performances were controversial, but I certainly found them compelling.

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    1. You and me both, David! The only controversy was the ‘sexist’ style, and some feminists were not happy with the ‘messages’ given to young women, as the girls in the video were all leading fashion models at the time. There are parodies of it on You Tube, with men taking the female roles.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. I have a story about Vinegar Joe – saw the band in 1972 in Morley I believe, and got chatting to their road manager who gave me a lift to the M1 (I lived not too far from there) on his way back to London. He drove an old Porsche and it is the only time I have ever been in a car that low to the road. What an experience! A pity it wasn’t a week later as I hitched down to London then. He kept in touch with me for several years sending me postcards from all over, but we never met up again. This song brings it all back 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Loretta. He was born in Batley, and later moved to Scarborough. When he became successful, he lived in Nassau, Bahamas, for some time too.
      I am glad you like this one.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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