What I’m Listening To This Week

Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley is a Robert Palmer record released in 1974. I was introduced to the record by legendary sound engineer Phill Brown who recorded it.

The title track is one of the funkiest things ever committed to tape. It’s something I get my students to play along to as an introduction to funk drumming. This is a beautiful recording which reminds us what a phenomenal time for music the Seventies was (Let’s face it, by the end of the decade, recorded music took a turn for the worst and never really recovered). Anyway, the feel is greasy and laid back even as the drums are kind of pushing it, the quirky bassline creates a solid foundation that cleaves a path right through the track. Surrounding the drums and bass are an array of keys, a clav, a Whirly (?), a clean guitar, a harp comping bits and whatnot. Glorious!

I had it in mind that the drums here were played by Zigaboo Modeliste and was thinking how interesting it was that he seemed to have stepped out of his usual lilting feel and broken patterns for this track and how it was a testament to his versatility as a drummer to have such a distinctive style and at the same time slip into something that feels very different. Before writing this I checked the personnel on the album and, to my surprise, this unbelievably cool bit of funk playing is from the hands and feet of Simon Phillips who I know of as Toto’s drummer and a generally “chopsy” and “proggy” sort of a guy. Who’d ha’ known it?

Meanwhile, Mr Modeliste did perform on Lee Dorsey’s original recording and plays a cool groove.

Greasier than a bag of chips.

Check out the record. I think I might save waffling on about the other tracks for another post. It’s got the Meters on it including Zig plus Bernard Purdie and Lowell George and Steve Winwood and Jim Mullen. Quite the line up.

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