Picks and Pans Review: Woke Up Laughing
Sonorous steel drums rumble in. A calypso rhythm marks time, hoping—perhaps—for Harry Belafonte to show up. Two versions of the title song, inspired by Zimbabwe's mbira rhythms, blend together. Dogs bark. Palmer seems to imitate bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto. A string section materializes. Stray melodies peek through. A woman's voice announces, with no context, "Two heads are better than one."
Those are just a few of the events packed into this chaotic, over-intellectualized album. Yes, this is the Palmer of such pop hits as "Addicted to Love" and "Simply Irresistible." It is also the Palmer who was born in England, raised on Malta, lived in the Bahamas for 12 years and seems determined to flaunt his familiarity with Brazilian samba, Nigerian juju, South African mbaqanga and 70 or 80 varieties of reggae. Unfortunately, he seems more intent on creating a one-man world music festival than on entertaining.
Bottom Line: Self-indulgent hodgepodge
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