Neither fish nor fowl
Todd Bartholomew | Atlanta, GA USA | 03/11/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Following on the heels of his commercially and critically acclaimed Clues Robert Palmer had the world on his plate. No surprise then he'd be torn about what course to pursue next: a live album of his tour or put out some of the material that didn't make it to "Clues"? "Maybe It's Live" attempts to do both things to varying degrees of success. That's not to say "Maybe It's Live" sucks, but in trying to be all things to all people it fails to do either well. As a live album you desperately want to hear more of the live shows. The live versions here are outstanding; especially "Best of Both Worlds" and "Bad Case of Loving You", and all aptly demonstrate how good Palmer was live. Like me, listeners just won't want the live show to end, but sadly it does, abruptly shifting into the studio tracks. That wasn't so abrupt when on vinyl where you had to flip the record, but on CD or a cassette it became far more jarring and abrupt. The studio tracks here were tracks omitted from "Clues" or tracks Palmer was working on for what became 1983's Pride and clearly hint at the direction Palmer was about to go in. "Some Guys Have All The Luck" is so deconstructed here it bears almost no similarity to the version Rod Stewart did a year later on his record Camouflage (which also was a huge hit). "Maybe It's You" harkens back to Palmer's earlier rock roots and just adds to the disjointed schizophrenic feel of the record.
The "neither fish nor fowl" approach temporarily stalled Palmer's career in the US; something not exactly helped with the off-putting original cover artwork. Palmer wouldn't get back on-track until the Power Station and his own Heavy Nova. As a result "Maybe It's Live" is mostly for hardcore fans and has only intermittently been available on CD in its original form. Ideally it should have been a full-on live LP/CD and that tentativeness is what made it something of a stiff at the time. For the adventurous however it is worth tracking down.