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After performing for several years in various blues, soul, and jazz bands, in 1970 Robert Palmber joined the jazz-rock outfit Dada, where he first worked alongside singer Elkie Brooks. The band lasted barely a year, after which Palmer and Brooks teamed up to form the British rhythm and blues band, Vinegar Joe.
Palmer shared lead vocal duties with Brooks, as well as played guitar, releasing three critically acclaimed (but commercially unsuccessful) albums for Island Records between 1972 and 1973. When Vinegar Joe folded, Island Records signed Palmer as a solo artist, based on his strong stage presence, soulful voice and youthful good looks.
In New Orleans the following year, with Little Feat founder Lowell George in the producer's chair, Palmer recorded his debut solo album Sneaking Sally Through the Alley. With George on guitar and backed by the funk-fusion masters, The Meters, the album not surprisingly had an overt Little Feat/New Orleans vibe that struck a chord with American listeners and it soon hit the charts in the United States.
His first single, a cover of Little Feat's "Sailin' Shoes" also charted in the US bringing him greater American exposure than ever before. Palmer soon relocated from London to New York City, where he began work on the follow-up album Pressure Drop, which would fully establish his solo career. Featuring Motown bassist extraordinaire James Jamerson, the album was infused with a soulful reggae vibe that gained him even greater recognition, prompting him to assemble an outstanding touring band.