Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley
Robert Palmer’s first solo album marks the intersection of several extraordinary musical forces. Recorded in New Orleans, New York, and Nassau, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley is a quintessentially American album, even though Palmer was a sharp-dressed Englishman. His dream collaborators were the New Orleans funk ensemble The Meters, Allen Toussaint, and Little Feat, and—thanks to Alabama-born producer Steve Smith—that’s exactly who he got for his first solo outing. Pairing Little Feat's Lowell George with The Meters was a stroke of genius. The ensemble invests George’s “Sailin’ Shoes” with a sleek, percolating groove that outperforms Little Feat’s much-loved original. The patience and stylishness that Palmer and company bring to “Get Outside,” “Hey Julia," and Toussaint’s “From a Whisper to a Scream” is a radical antidote to the overblown production methods of the mid-'70s. Homegrown, humid, and distinctly nontraditional, the atmosphere of Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley remains extraordinary even when compared with much better-known works by Leon Russell or Dr. John.