The Best of OVER-RAY-TED: In Search of Power

Just as filler and laziness, I’ve decided to reprint some of my favorite articles, I wrote for my old failed group blog, OVER-RAY-TED. Now no one can read it a second time.

I highly recommend playing the above selection while reading.

I make really great cards. Ever since I was in single digits, I’ve been putting my artistic ability to use as the poor man’s John Hallmark. (Historical note: Name may be made up.) If my life plan had veered a little to the left, I’d be in Kansas City right now dreaming up Shoebox greetings.

A recent creation was to be a belated wedding card for my friends Zach and Shana in the theme of Addicted to Love.

All I needed was to draw the famed Robert Palmer Girls add the catchphrase. But my photo reference was paused grainy YouTube clips and after two hours of crappy sketches. I scrapped it for the Love Boat theme.

The upside of my shitty drawings was that I got to do a lot of unintentional Robert Palmer research. You would remember Mr. Palmer as Rolling Stone’s best dressed rocker of the 80’s and for the undrawable model posse that seemed to follow him like a lobotomized band of puppies, but what you may not remember is just before his landmark Riptide album made Robert Palmer a Pepsi spokesman, RP was involved in one of the more successful supergroups of all-time: Power Station.

If it’s not coming to you, the Palmer/ Duran Duran/ CHIC amalgam brought us the international hits like “Some Like it Hot” and “Bang a Gong (Get It On).” Just reading this should be making you sing to yourself, “Some like it hot………some like hawwwwt.” “Feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel the heeeeeeeeeeat!/ Burning you up/ Ready or not!” I know this isn’t just me. They played Live Aid for crying out loud.

The video for “Some Like It Hot” is an 80’s visual history lesson featuring bad animation, the Duran Duran guys looking like they got kicked out of a Robert Smith’s supergroup (which turns out was called “The Glove”, like smell the…) and Robert Palmer is adorned in a priest’s frock preaching to a pink cactus that was occasionally “on fire.” I immediately needed to burn (no pun) this album of someone, but no one seemed to own it.

After a few inquiries, I found that only two of my musically inclined friends even admitted interest. Nick said that he recently almost bought it with one of his Christmas gift cards. My friend Chad admitted to owning the vinyl back in his tender long red haired Minnesota youth, and tried to convince me of the power Duran Duran’s other side project Arcadia was just as good, but I didn’t care. I just wanted a hard copy to burn.

My own excuse is simple. I’ve never really been much of a music person. The breadth of my pop culture knowledge focuses on TV and Movies. I’ll only buy an album if it comes highly recommended from a small cabinet of musical advisors or if I have to buy it for my wife. In the 80’s, I had one tape, I got for Christmas: The Back to the Future soundtrack. I’m sure Huey Lewis and Robert Palmer were great friends.

Chad suggested I just download it, but it wouldn’t be the same. I didn’t just want it for myself, I wanted to know that somewhere, there is someone I know that looks through their stack of CD’s when they are sick of their iTunes and at least thinks about grabbing the Power Station out from between their Postal Service and Pretty Girls Make Graves.

Maybe availability was the problem? What if it was impossible to find? It would surely be more of in store impulse buy then an online search driven quest. I went to three local “cool” record stores in the heart of Williamsburg and Greenpoint. I even had to explain to the counter guardian at Earwax exactly what I was talking about. Sadly, he just got defensive and said, “We don’t sell 80’s pop here.” So be it, it seemed its ironic value was even higher then I thought.

I gave it look see in the music department of Barnes & Noble, thinking bigger means Power Station. Well not quite. I did find four different Greatest Hits albums of Robert Palmer including a 20th Century Masters album. Now before you get hysterical there is also Master of the Twentieth Century album for Eddie Money, Tears For Fears and someone called Rainbow.

I wanted the album, the bad cover art, the surely cryptic liner notes, the photo of Robert looking like he was the account manager that just happened to get into the picture. I wanted an album made back in a time when the packaging was supposed to be fondled and combed through in bed while the music washed over you.

To avoid the shutout, I went to Virgin. If it wasn’t there, then it wasn’t in print and that was that. I flung open the doors from a bitter Union Square and launched into the maze of Madonna albums, Miss Sunshine DVD’s and $10 things that I already owned.

I got to the P’s and just above Powerman 5000 it was there: the red and black jagged cutouts, the awkward band picture and eight rock songs from an era when you could get away with having eight songs on a record. All of this nostalgic bliss and ironic superstardom could be mine for a mere $18. I looked at it, held it, stared directly into Robert Palmer’s eyes and realized even hard rockin’ kick ass nostalgia isn’t worth eighteen bucks when it’s eight on line.

RIP Bobby Palmer

RIP Bobby Palmer

2 Responses to “The Best of OVER-RAY-TED: In Search of Power”

  1. Colm Moody Says:

    I met Robert Palmer in 1980 and we stayed in contact over the years. It is a fact that there was a mixed critical reaction to the Powerstation’s music but Robert was very proud of his work on both Harvest and Living in Fear. In particular he enjoyed portraying a Priest in the original video for “Some Like it Hot.” And Robert’s personality type was definitely not priestly, so his friends really got a laugh out of it. Robert’s first love was R & B, though. There was no questioning that. Robert did pride himself on experimenting musically and he never limited himself on what he was willing to try. He loved the masters, such as Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Ike Turner and Marvin Gaye, and the list goes on, but he never compared himself to them, he just admired them. Robert was planning on making some major changes in his life before he died. One thing he was planning to do was relocate to Los Angeles, California with his longtime girlfriend, Geraldine Edwards. After looking at homes in several areas they had consolidated their home search to the Wilshire region of Los Angeles. They felt comfortable there. Another important thing Robert was doing was acquiring Compendium Records, the label he was signed to. The sole owner of Compendium Records was retiring and planning on selling the company, which was one of the last standing independents, and Robert put his hat into the ring. His bid was accepted and negotiations were underway when Robert died. And Robert had got together the musicians he wanted to work with for his upcoming release and was planning on starting work on the project in October of 2003. Some of his original songs were going to appear on it. He was especially excited about this one because Compendium had awarded him full creative control. Robert’s manager, Mick Carter, made a statement to the press that Robert was in perfect health prior to his death. I still do not know why he had said that to this day. Everyone who was close to Robert knew that he was suffering from Hypertension and was taking medication for it. I don’t know how much Carter knows about medicine, but most people know that Hypertension is a precursor to Heart Attack and Stroke. Robert was lucky enough to get to spend some time in London with Geraldine before he died. She was with him when he had recorded his special at Ronnie Scott’s Club. And he was lucky too, to have been able to spend some time in the end with his very good friend, Jack Bruce. Those two were putting there heads together because Jack was going to be contributing on Robert’s upcoming release. A lot of people really wanted Robert to slow down a bit, but that was just not within his nature. Robert was known for going full speed ahead. Robert will be missed. My best regards to Robert’s five children. May he RIP.

  2. I do nnot ven know how I ended up here, but I thought this post
    was good. I don’t know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you
    are not already 😉 Cheers!

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