"Don't Ask Me Questions" / Graham Parker
The full Graham Parker Marathon isn't starting until next week, but I couldn't resist throwing this little teaser your way. It's an early track, from GP's first album Howlin' Wind -- which just happened to be produced by a fellow named Nick Lowe, whose former bandmates Brinsley Schwarz and Bob Andrews were part of the line-up of Parker's new band The Rumour. (It kills me how everybody seems to have known everybody else in those days when the pub rock scene was morphing into New Wave.)
Forget that stately intro -- once this song switches to its brisk reggae-soaked tempo it clips smartly along, as GP fires off a no-holds-barred diatribe at God. This is Graham Parker's other face, political and angry in a way that no other British New Wavers could match (even with Elvis Costello, it always seemed to stem more from personal grudge than from moral outrage). I think back to 1976, when this song first came out, and remember the super-charged politics of that era, with the Vietnam War barely over and the anti-war movement still revved up. Though Parker wasn't a punk rocker, as an East Londoner he must have been fueled by some of that same class resentment.
What a tight band this was, to keep this roller coaster rattling along. (Love those quivering guitar notes, dropped like bombs.) And talk about a cathartic song for a live performance -- those repeated "Hey Lord"'s just cry out for audience participation, preferably with a fist pumped in the air. This is where this guy started, for chrissake. I can't wait to see where he went from here.