On This Day: Robert Palmer – Riptide


18 November 1985

Robert Palmer had a pretty successful run in the 1970s but it was the MTV heavy rotation of “Addicted To Love” that put him on the map for my generation. Fembots in tight black mini-dresses vamping on electric guitars and keyboards, fronted by the diminutive Palmer in 1980s post-punk Wall Street chic. The image was inescapable then and, 34 years on, unforgettable now. It was a fantastic single but an even better video, stylistic and simple to the point of being boring if the visuals hadn’t been so striking and the tune so catchy, an early example of the perfect symbiosis that can exist between music and visuals, each making the other a more impactful work of art.

Onto the album, then. Bookended by the fabulous smooth croon of the title track, consumers expecting an album full of “Addicted To Love” clones had to have been a bit taken aback to find this mellow number as the opener, but it’s a sweet reflection on the difficulties of transitioning from one relationship to another, in the vein of, say, “Torn Between Two Lovers,” but somehow cheerier. Likewise the side-two opener, “Get It Through Your Heart,” a timeless sounding soft jazz number that would be right at home on a Harry Connick Jr. album.

This is not to give the impression that the album doesn’t rock. These quieter numbers serve as the front, back, and center, but every other song on the record is a fully fleshed-out synth rocker that delivers on the promise made by “Addicted To Love.” Subsequent singles “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On” and “Hyperactive” are prime ‘80s radio fodder and even non-singles like “Flesh Wound” and the bluesy cover “Trick Bag” keep the mood upbeat and power forward.

Back in August, I said some unkind things about Palmer’s 1988 follow-up release Heavy Nova and it only received a 5-CD rating from me. Listening to the near-perfection of Riptide, I’m tempted to adjust that rating downward – that he’s capable of something like this album only to follow it up with that one just heightens the offense. But I’ll not let future failures mar my enjoyment of this record; Riptide is a masterpiece.


3 thoughts on “On This Day: Robert Palmer – Riptide

  1. Pingback: Hello, My Treacherous Friends, Vol. 11 | Hello, My Treacherous Friends

  2. Pingback: Hello, My Treacherous Friends Vol. 16 | Hello, My Treacherous Friends

  3. I used to have this cassette, but alas, it is probably in a landfill somewhere or stashed in someone’s basement. Wouldn’t it be fun to know the trip that some of your former cassettes, vinyl or CDs made? Maybe not. Anyway, I liked this album, but I guess I didn’t like it enough at the time to replace it on CD. “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On” was, and still is, a favorite track of mine. I always thought of it as the musical antidote to “Addicted to Love” – kind of like the song “Faith” to “I Want Your Sex”. I don’t think I’ll buy this again, but I’ll be giving this album a new listen on streaming.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s