Before becoming a slick, sharp-dressed pop star in the 1980s, Robert Palmer was a soul singer deeply rooted in R&B and funk. Those influences are on full display on his debut album Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley. With a backing band including members of Little Feat and the Meters, the music has a laid-back groove whether Palmer’s covering New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint (the title track) or singing originals (“Hey Julia,” ” Get Outside”). While the music is tight and solid, it is Robert Palmer’s voice that is revelatory — he sounds supremely confident among these talented musicians, and they seem to feed off his vocal intensity. Fans of the Meters or people who want to discover the funky side of Robert Palmer should check this one out.