You've described your forthcoming album 'Drive' as a 'Gutbuckety Swamp thing'. What does that mean?
Robert Palmer: Trying to describe something musical is like dancing to architecture, it's really difficult. But in order to get the feeling across it's a very raw, bluesy, funk record and I was drawn to it in a very different way. I had an invitation to contribute a track to a Robert Johnson tribute album, and it was the first time I'd done anything like that in my life. I was not brought up with the blues or anything like that, and I really, really enjoyed it. Then I did a project for Faye Dunaway, I did the soundtrack for a movie she did which was set in Mississipi and New Orleans in the '40s and '50s. So I did some research and that gave me more information so I thought I'd go in that direction. It was just a lot of factors that came together at once. And the players fell together too, miraculously, out of the sky. I cut it at home and it took on a life of its own, and when we're done here I'm going back to the studio to do some more.
Why's that? I read you saying that the album was finished.
Robert Palmer: It is but I was here with my son, who's drumming with me now, and this guitarist I'm working with, who's really something, and I came across a couple of songs and asked the record company if they'd foot the bill for some more. And they said 'sure', so I'm squeezing in three hour sessions every night and it's working out marvellously because when I started I had 50 or so songs to pick from and I ended up saying 'yes, that's the lot'. But then I thought 'oh, I wish I'd done that one!' So the opportunity came up and I'm doing it because I wanted to be doing the opposite of scraping the barrel. I wondered how many unknown blues tunes I could find that had never been done, but in fact I found a bunch that haven't. I picked them mostly for the lyric content and the vitality and syncopation of them. Just from the experience of starting out doing two it was a revelation, I'd never thought about it before. As usual with any act, your latest is your favourite and that's the case for me. Consequently it's great that it's tied in with the package that's all the hits [At His Very Best]. So here's the story up to date, and here's what's coming next. It's a great plan, to describe the fact that it's an ongoing thing, it's not just winding something up. It's fine as long as there's somewhere else to go.
You've had two compilations come out this year, 'Best Of Both Worlds' and 'At His Very Best, and both feature tracks from 'Drive' at the end...
Robert Palmer: 'Best Of Both Worlds'? Oh, you mean the American double CD. That was a different thing. The major thing behind all of it is that Universal acquired Polygram who had acquired Island which meant that for the first time I had access to all of my material. For all the other things I had to get a license to put tracks like 'Some Like It Hot' by the Power Station, and it would take about six months for them to say 'ok, you can use it'. This time I had carte blanche to pick everything. So the American side wanted to make a definitive anthology which is about 40 or so tracks and I love it, it's a real good history. But the idea here was to focus more on the songs that had the biggest recognition factor for England because a lot of the songs on the other one were hits in America but not here.