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The Very Best of the Island Years

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Album Review

Island's 2005 compilation The Very Best of the Island Years is a near-perfect single-disc overview of Robert Palmer's stint at Island Records, which ran from 1974's Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley to 1985's Riptide. This is regarded by fans and critics alike as his peak creative period, and it also contained his best-known hits, including 1978's "Every Kinda People," 1979's "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)," 1980's "Can We Still Be Friends," 1981's "Johnny and Mary" and "Looking for Clues," and, of course, 1986's "Addicted to Love" and 1987's "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On." While he continued to chart into the early '90s, only one song — 1988's "Addicted to Love" rewrite "Simply Irresistible" — could hold a candle to those hits, and it's here in a live version that concludes the album. While it would have been nice if the original studio version had somehow made the cut, the rest of this is such a terrific listen, charting Palmer's progression from laid-back New Orleans-styled blue-eyed soul crooner through new wave pop guy through his sleek rock makeover with Riptide, that most listeners won't mind that it's a live version, and choose to simply enjoy the best single-disc Palmer compilation yet assembled (and anybody wanting to dig deeper should turn to 2002's similarly excellent double-disc set Best of Both Worlds).


Born: January 19, 1949 in Batley, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The career of blue-eyed soul singer Robert Palmer was a study in style versus substance. While the performer's earliest work won praise for its skillful assimilation of rock, R&B, and reggae sounds, his records typically sold poorly, and he achieved his greatest notoriety as an impeccably dressed lounge lizard. By the mid-'80s, however, Palmer became a star, although his popularity owed less to the strength of his material than to his infamous music videos: taking their cue from the singer's suave...
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