Michael Palmer's a Good Man

Observer senior writer

Friday, May 17, 2019

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Hardcore fans gave Michael Palmer the obligatory gun salute whenever his hit song, Lick Shot , was played at dances in the 1980s. The singer recorded what became his signature song 35 years ago and while he never tires of performing it, has always tried to break new ground.

Based in New York for over 30 years, Palmer records sporadically. Whenever he releases a new song, such as Good Man, it is considered his latest comeback.

Produced by Strictly Yard Music out of Boston, Good Man was released in April. On it, Palmer expresses the benefits of clean living.

“I recorded this song about the ending of March, and I was firmly influenced by (singer) K Vybz and her song As He Made You which was done on the same rhythm. I believe it is a positive song with positive rhetoric,” he said.

Based on social media postings, Good Man has been getting steady rotation on New York reggae radio, which is encouraging for Palmer whose career has been curtailed by vocal problems since the 1980s, which forced him to put singing on hold for extended periods.

“I have been recording, but there wasn't any consistency to it. It would be like every now and then I would pass by the studios and should I hear a rhythm I like, I would add my vocals to it,” he stated.

Prior to Good Man, Palmer recorded a clutch of songs for Ed Robinson, one of the New York dancehall/reggae scene's most recognised producers. Two of those songs, Dreams and Come Fallah Mi, were released in 2017.

Michael Palmer is one of the survivors of 1980s dancehall, a decade that yielded an assembly-line of edgy vocalists, including Junior Reid, Tenor Saw, Yami Bolo, Nitty Gritty, and Half Pint. He hailed from the Whitfield Town area of Kingston where his neighbour was singer Leroy Smart, his biggest influence.

Palmer kicked off his career on sound systems and recorded for different producers such as Jah Thomas and Sugar Minott in the late 1970s. He was known throughout dance circles, but the George Phang-produced Lick Shot elevated his profile in the summer of 1984.

His punchy tale about inner-city conflict was an instant smash and made Palmer a star. He performed at Reggae Sunsplash and a number of his songs were released in the United Kingdom by Greensleeves Records, which was then the yardstick for dancehall success.

Palmer, who is in his late 50s, is ambivalent when discussing Lick Shot.

“It's ironic in a sense that it makes me feel like a one-hit wonder and I'm not. Lick Shot is (just) a signature and a phenomenal record that signifies me,” he said.

Good Man, Palmer said, spells a new dawn for his career. He is currently working with Strictly Yard Music on songs for an album they plan to release early next year.

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