As my faithful readers (all 2 1/2 of you) may have noticed, I've been somewhat waylaid lately by discovering the music of Graham Parker. I'm still smacking my forehead. After all, I was a huge fan of his album Squeezing Out Sparks in 1979 -- why on earth did I not realize that a guy that good was going to go on making records, even if the so-called tastemakers moved on? And not just go on making records, but making better and better records as time went by -- honing his craft, pouring out more and more incisive social commentary, refining his lyrical gifts to a very high level indeed.
There's a lot of Graham Parker to catch up on, and I can't rush it -- the sheer brilliance of these later albums keeps tripping me up. But those of you who haven't yet joined me on this odyssey, take heart -- there may very soon be a set of Cliff's Notes.
I'm talking about the Graham Parker documentary Don't Ask Me Questions, which is in its final stages of completion. Brothers Michael and John Gramaglia have made the film; they just need a little help paying for all the songs and video clips they need to include (licensing, you know). So check out the film's website to see if you too could be a part of bringing this project to fruition.
I'm still abuzz about a similar Kinks film, Do It Again, which I also helped to finance in my own paltry way. I finally saw that film a couple months ago and can't stop raving about it. It's pretty exciting that in the age of the Interweb, fans can actually be a part of seeing their heroes celebrated on film. Who knows, maybe a Nick Lowe film is next? (Yeah, hold your breath...)
So anyway -- the Reverb today is totally self-serving; just another heaping helping of GP to get you guys up to speed on this cool new movie....
Saturday, May 08, 2010
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.