Song Of The Day: Robert Palmer – You Are In My System

Island Records | US | 12" | 1983 | 0-96996

Island Records | US | 12″ | 1983 | 0-96996

Robert Palmer: You Are In My System US 12″ [1983]

  1. You Are In My System [12″ remix]
  2. Deadline

It’s been a long time since there was a legit Song of the Day. Usually, whatever project I am working on has a tune that gets lodged in my skull or a record I am planning on writing a review of gets all the headspace. Not so with this one, which has been going strong for about 48 hours so far! I remember first hearing this one the year it came out on MTV with the brutal 3:00 7″ edit, which was still enough to alert me to its awesomeness. At that time, I only owned a copy of the “Clues” album and was still mostly ignoring Palmer as a boring mainstream rock guy who “slummed in New Wave” on his 1980 album. Though I appreciated this song a lot even when just seeing the video, I never bothered to pick up a copy of the “Pride” album from whence this tune came. My friend Tom saw the cover to that album with me in Crunchy Armadillo Records and asked about Palmer and I dissuaded him from looking too carefully at it. It’s true. I was a jerk.

<…flash forward five years>

It was after seeing Palmer the first time in concert on the “Heavy Nova” tour in 1988 that I soon went to a store afterward and bought the CD of “Pride” afterward since the tracks played from this on that show were most beguiling. I now had the longer 4:20 album version of this absolutely killer cover version. On the shiny silver disc as well. all good, but my Palmer collection was pretty spotty for another decade following even that time. It wasn’t until the turn of the millennium that I began to get a far-too-late yen to hear more of Palmer. I began buying as many CDs as I ran across. As of last year, I began the collection of 12″ singles for the alternate versions and remixes out in the wild. Yes, one day there will be a REVO collection of non-LP Palmer goodness and this 12″ single is already among the tracks earmarked for that project.

I was aware that the song had come from a band eponymously named The System and it has come to the market a year prior to Palmer’s cover on “Pride.” In a genius move that saw the perfect wheel not being reinvented much, Palmer enlisted the tune’s writer/player/programmer David Frank of The System to replicate his work on Palmer’s cover. What’s that saying… if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? This meant that the impeccably funky electro music bed that was the ideal fusion of syncopated electrofunk and tightly programmed machine soul was every bit as crucial as the original by The System, which had certainly made waves for their cause the earlier year.

There were two critical areas where Palmer’s version aced the already excellent original; the Simmons drums and drum programming on Palmer’s cover pushed this right over the top, where it became a peak electro experience. The hard beats on Palmer’s version simply cannot be topped. The coup de grace was finally, Palmer’s vocal. He really put his stamp on the song and in a dramatic way. Palmer has unbridled power that System vocalist Mic Murphy could have only dreamed of.

The 12″ mix that is stuck to my mind like flypaper was courtesy of Dominique Blanc-Francard, who mixed the album it came from. This meant that the 12″ mix, which extended the experience to a sweet [and brief sounding] 6:07 simply added an extended instrumental intro with some vamping and instilled a 12-bar instrumental dub breakdown at the song’s midpoint that worked for me.

robert palmer - youareinmysystem92UKP12AI see that there is another 12″ promo mix ca. 1992 by Eric Kupper concurrent with the release of the “Addictions” volumes of Palmer hits [often remixed/recut] but the track seems to be a house version [cue foghorn foley effect] of the song, as mandated by Club Law of the time period. Sad, really. I will probably buy a copy of this at one point because of the collector’s sickness, but otherwise, I can’t recommend it in good faith. The postmodern remix of this song that I would pay serious money for though, would be the dub mix that Todd Terje should immediately create of this powerhouse of a song! Hear it in your skull and join me in saying “y-e-e-e-e-e-eeeeeah!!” to that notion.

In the meantime, here’s a grey market mix that manages to not walk all over the tune.

– 30 –

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4 Responses to Song Of The Day: Robert Palmer – You Are In My System

  1. Echorich says:

    Some may call Palmer pedestrian in his musical canon. I’ve always given him a bit more credit. While having no where near the artistic mojo of Bryan Ferry, he could be seen at times as being a working man’s Ferry (although something tells me Ferry sees himself as thats as well) and seemed to have an interest in a number of the same musical genres as the Roxy main man. Some of his music is a bit more ham-fisted, substituting power for subtlety, but there’s a common interest in painting musical pictures and playing with rhythms.
    By the mid-80’s Palmer seems to have found a sound that fit – a mix of aggressive guitars (thanks to his work with The Power Station) and electronic Soul which he seems to have discovered around the time of You Are In My System. The “New Waving” of Clues, when I look back, seemed to be an album of exploration and a bit desperate, trying to keep relevant over finding a direction. Pride, the follow up, has more genre searching, but there’s a stronger sense that Palmer is in control.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – It’s true that Ferry at his most pedestrian is pretty indistinguishable from Palmer at the same level. Both were singers with a huge love for R+B with penchants for that material but while Ferry rubbed shoulders with the likes of Waddy Wachtel and various session rats on his occasionally tepid 70s albums [you know the ones] Palmer got The Meters as his band for his first two albums. No hits to speak of but fine records and a great start to his solo career. Caveat: I have never heard Vinegar Joe.


      • Echorich says:

        Ah The Meters, every British artists favorite Bayou R&B band…Worked with Palmer, McCartney, opened for The Stones…New Orleans R&B never caught my ear, save the odd Lee Dorsey or Alain Toussaint song…Oh the collaboration between Toussaint and Elvis Costello was quite good as well.


  2. Pingback: Want List: Robert Palmer BSOG of Complete Island Albums UK 9xCD | Post-Punk Monk

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