Comprised of vocalist Robert Palmer, Chic drummer Tony Thompson and Duran Duran's Andy Taylor on lead guitar and John Taylor on bass, the foursome could easily be called the ultimate 80's super group or at the least ultimate 80s side project.
The Power Station was formed in the New York City recording studio on the same name after a chance encounter between the Taylors, who were on a break from Duran Duran, and Palmer who was working on new solo material. In a rolling Stone interview from the early 80s Andy Taylor said that he wand John, who had been life long fans of Chic recruited Thompson and Bernard Edwards (who produced the disc) to help them "Record the ultimate T-Rex cover." They did that and more.
The debut CD was a huge hit thanks to legions of hungry "Duranies" hungry for new material and massive MTV exposure for the stylish videos to the albums tracks "Some Like It Hot" and the T-Rex cover "Get It On (Bang A Gong)." This CD was the soundtrack to my youth. Specifically junior year in High School. I wore the tape down by playing it again and again in my boom box. Today it remains a go to disc for late night drives and road trips. It is without a doubt in my all time top ten CDs. Ever.
The Power Station allowed the individual band members to do things they had not been able to do in their other bands. Andy Taylor, who had been drastically underused in Duran Duran got to unleash his inner guitar god as shred through the tracks "Communication" and "Murderess." Taylor even got to handle some vocals, sharing the mic with Palmer for the band's solid take on the Isley Brother's "Harvest For The World." Drummer Thompson got to get his rock on. We know the man was funky from his time in Chic but this CD let him really kick out the big beats and John Taylor get to flex his funk muscles and create some memorable bass lines. Robert Palmer, who had delivered so many great moments in the 1970s, is at the top of his game vocally on this record. His deep baritone crooning through the ballads "Still In Your Heart" and "Lonely Tonight" help to make The Power Station his Magnum Opus.
After the album became a hit the band announced they were heading out of the road fro a massive world tour sans Robert Palmer. After much back and forth he decided to continue work on his solo material. Again, I mentioned this was a band of departures. The only live performance fans got to see with Palmer was their two song set on "Saturday Night Live." One of those songs "Some Like It Hot" can be seen on the bonus DVD that comes in the deluxe edition of The Power Stations debut. For the tour and Live Aid concerts glam god Michael Des Barre maned the lead vocals. The band and their new singer even appeared on "Miami Vice" where they debuted the one new track "Someday, Somehow, Someone Gonna Pay." (Also on deluxe CD)
The band eventually ceased to exist after Andy and John Taylor returned to their "Day Jobs" in Duran Duran.
Andy Taylor, Robert Palmer, Tony Thompson and Edwards pressed on, creating "Living In Fear." The end result is a bit muddy and odd. Although they used the same formula as they had on the debut, two cover songs and the rest rock tinged funk originals, the disc is a bit off. The rock is too heavy. The bass lines sludgy and the experimentation goes too far.
The covers, which include a soul-less take on Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" and a slowed down to a crawl version of The Beatles "Tax Man" are just okay. The tracks "Dope" and "Living In Fear" have a vintage Black Sabbath sound, which doesn't really work. Andy Taylor takes over lead vocals on one track "Scared," which is a great song but doesn't sound like The Power Station we know and love. Sadly, the Cd is marred in tragedy because producer/bass player Bernard Edwards died of a massive heart attack while completing the album. The album was released in 1996 to little fanfare or attention.
In 2003 Robert Palmer died of a massive heart attack in France. Just a few month later drummer Tony Thompson passed away after a short battle with cancer. John Taylor, now clean and sober, returned to his post in Duran Duran. In 2004 Andy rejoined DD just long enough to record and tour behind the "Fab Five's" comeback CD "Astronaut." But while recording Duran's next CD "Red Carpet Massacre" it was Andy Taylor's time to step away, as he quit the band and never returned.
The Power Station's debut CD remains a solid testament to solid collaboration. By combining Duran Duran's axeman with their heroes--Bernard & Tony from Chic and tossing in one of the greatest white soul singers ever in Palmer was genius. The only shame is, apart from their SNL shot, we never got to see the live performance of Palmer, Thompson,Taylor and Taylor perform. Pick up the band's debut CD, which is readily available on Amazon.com.