Although Robert Palmer didn't have to move to the Bahamas to learn how to produce good music, it's environment apparently lends itself to creative thought.
With a solid background of intriguing albums, such as his '75 debut release, Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley, Palmer continues to come up with good ideas on his latest, Secrets, now making a good showing on the charts.
His American Rhythm & Blues interests are still evident, as is his English Rock'n'Roll upbringing.
When his career began at 15, with a group called The Mandrakes, he noticed the attractiveness of R&B at the edge of the beaten path.
"At the time, it was a great alternative", the 30-year-old Palmer said in a recent telephone interview. "Everyone was into the Beatles stuff and I felt that being rhythmic was better than being melodic."
Although the rhythmic elements remain a part of his music, the cat-scratching rock overtones put guts into the whole thing.
The sweetheart tune of US radio these days is his cover version of Moon Martin's Bad Case Of Loving You, to which Palmer does justice with hungry, leathery vocals and a true rocking style. He didn't anticipate it taking off like it has on singles charts.
But this man who is making a mark in the charts is also the one who some critics think he is too smooth, stiff and academic to convey his real musical feelings.
"They say that for their own ambitions, not mine", says Palmer, who is married and treating his young son to a sunny childhood in Nassau, where he moved 2 1/2 years ago.
"Half of the press loves it and the other half hates it. If it's not academic, it's too coarse. I think journalism is extremely academic."
Other observers even contend that he can't be considered a serious musician because of his fine-featured looks. Palmer's reaction to those statements:
"It reminds me of Miss Peggy, who says "My looks are my downfall". But that's show-business. If you're concerned more about a shoe size than anything else, then very few thing are practical."
"My concern is whether or not the whole thing has movement, what the tour reaction is like, and keep getting more public appeal with each album. Those are the realistic considerations."
Kim McAuliffe (Detroit Free Press - 1979)