My introduction to Robert Palmer was through Duran Duran.
I had heard “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley” and “Bad Case of Lovin’ You”, but I never knew who sang those songs till Palmer became the front man for the Power Station. At the age of 13, I started to discover it was guys like Palmer, Sting and Roger Taylor (Duran Duran, not Queen) who were stirring something in me. It wasn’t Madonna or the barely-clad Mary Jane Girls.
The Power Station music videos put him in near profile, and he cut a striking one. I found him handsome. Not hot in the teenaged girl parlance, but attractive all the same.
Of course, that meant I wanted to see him without a shirt.
Some of his previous albums came close. There was Double Fun:
OK. Bare shoulders. Where are the nipples? Perhaps on Secrets?
Thwarted! Cropped right before. What about Pride?
Illustration does not substitute for a photo. Also, the armor is in the way.
Perhaps the most frustrating cover is Riptide. There’s enough bare shoulder in the picture to hint that he may be missing a shirt. The sheet music song book for the album included the edge of said bare shoulder.
Even today, the tease of this cover confounds me. Why, Mr. Palmer, must you hint but not reveal?
Well, it’s because Robert Palmer was a dapper gentleman. He parlayed the success of the Power Station into Riptide, donning on suits in his music videos and garnering accolades as the best dressed man in rock music. If your image hinges on dressing well, there’s little point in undressing in public.
What makes me so eager to see a full-body shot of the Riptide cover stems from where Palmer was at that point in his life. In 1986, he would have been 37, too old to be considered a pop idol but young enough for his prime. The crow’s feet around his eyes lend just enough dignity to make his smile seductive. How is this cover not hot?
Every time I encounter Riptide when I flip through the vinyl bins, I keep thinking, “Dude. You are such a tease.”
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