Robert Palmer and The Vanishing Breed
This story should be prefaced by saying Robert Palmer and I used to spend hours and hours talking. Robert’s a very intelligent guy and we loved to talk, the two of us. He had a great library of books. He was into all kinds of stuff that I was into and I was into stuff he was into. We had all this in common. Those were the days – we were doing blow and drinking. We were awake until the sun came up. We were yak, yak, yak, yak, yak.
What I should add more than once, probably about half a dozen times, we’d be talking about something and Robert would jump off from the couch and go grab a book off the bookshelf. Mind you, he didn’t look around for the book, but just go jump up, grab the book, and open it up to right where we were talking about. This happened about half a dozen times. I’m not kidding. I used to say to him, “What’s up with you?” It was weird.
In this respect, we had a fun relationship. There was a lot of nonverbal communication and simpatico between us. I loved him dearly.
Robert had kids and I had kids. We spent a lot of time in the Bahamas together, and one day, we visited the zoo.
While visiting an exhibit, a sign read “Vanishing Breed” at the bottom. I can still see the thing in my mind. The display, made out of unfinished logs, had some kind of animal skull. Not a deer, but whatever it was, the skull thing had two horns. These “Vanishing Breed” signs appeared on certain exhibits throughout the Nassau zoo.
One day, Robert looked up, pointed at the “Vanishing Breed” sign, and started laughing.
I asked, “What’s so funny?”
He said, “That’s you and me.”
I asked, “What?”
He said, “The Vanishing Breed. That’s you and me.”
Then, we got into that discussion of how we needed to keep recording alive. The industry was into digital recording at that time, and he knew how I felt about it.
He would play me these rap records. He said, “Listen to this record. It’s so incredible. I bought it in Europe.”
It was not hard-core rap or Jamiroquai, but leaning in more to that direction – more of musical kind of a thing but somewhere between rap and music.
He used to say, “These people that make these records, I’ll bet some of them have never recorded a drum set in their lives or have never recorded a real instrument. Who’s going to teach these people? What’s going to happen? This is going to all fade away. It’s just going to end up where nobody is going to know how to do this right.”
This story brings us to one of the reasons this site exists. I want to pass on my accumulated knowledge so the art of recording music doesn’t vanish or become disposable.
It’s important that music production doesn’t get swallowed up by gear overkill and gimmicks. Recording great music means capturing great performances. You get yourself and complications (like too much equipment) out of the way.