ACROSS THE BORDER
Where the banned are
Selected by @whispered secret.
Love GP and this album. Howling Wind will always be my favourite album of his because it came out when I “discovered“ him, but I think Squeezing Out Sparks is his most accomplished album and shows a new found maturity lacking in the three preceding albums. Spent so many great nights watching him live in London in 1976 at Dingwalls, The Nashville and The Marquee Club. Great choice, it’s got me listening to his music again.
Is it just me or does Graham, Southside and Little Steven sound very similar in their style of vocals?
I think there are similarities.
I love Bruce's backing on Endless Night - that song possibly transitioned my devotion from Graham to Bruce...
Not to stray from the album at hand, but since my whole point starting this was to spark conversation and interest...
Bruce sings backing vocals on Parker's Endless Night from the follow-up to Squeezing Out Sparks and Danny also plays on the album.
Thanks Rick for the link, as I had the same issue as Louisa, my streaming version of the album was missing tracks 1 and 5.
Having now listened to the album a few times, these are my thoughts and comments…
I had not heard him before. I don’t think he was known much, if at all, in SA, certainly back then. I of course hear shades of Elvis Costello, and lots of similarities to the albums of the same era by Joe Jackson, (Look Sharp!, Beat Crazy etc) another of my favourite artists. He could also do the punkier/rockier stuff, but then hit you in the chest with a sincerely heartfelt slower song.
Whenever I think of or hear music from late Seventies UK, I always have this grey, bleak, cold image in my mind. I know that’s not entirely true, of course, but I can’t avoid it. From 1980 to 1982, all my closest mates in school were recently relocated from England, their parents despondent with the socio-political situation seeking greener pastures and the stories those guys told me also play a part in my mindview of that time. My best mate was named Stephen Metcalfe, who had spent the first 7 years of his life living in a council flat in Yorkshire. He thought he was in paradise here. (You have a pool in your GARDEN?!) Looking back his folks would have been early thirties, at most, and they would surely have listened to music like this back then.
I like it, I will listen again and I will investigate more of his music. I think You Can't Be Too Strong will remain a favourite from this for me.
I see there is a more recently recorded acoustic version of this record, which I have on my mental playlist.
Thanks Ann. Nice choice. 😊
Listening to this, and thinking about the Skids also, the 70s in Britain must have been difficult. The economic and political situation, something I know way to little about, had such an impact on the music.
You are correct in your analysis of the 70's - not an easy decade, the early 80's were no better. Much of the music I listened to then did reflect what we were living through - some absolute classics come to mind 'Going Underground' by The Jam, 'Ghost Town' by The Specials and, of course 'God Save The Queen' - angry music by angry young men.
@whispered secret has said pretty much what I was going to say @Louisa, though I'd inevitably add the 1st Clash album as a further exemplar: White Riot, Hate & War, Career Opportunities etc. '80's grim too. Remember studying for my finals wondering whether we'd all be off to the South Atlantic before 1982 was done. Rampant Thatcherism, destruction of the industrial heartland of my country (Scotland!) and beyond.
The current lot are no better, in some ways worse. 😣
@MagicRatAFC will be along soon.....
@Walkerinthesun My God, it really was bleak wasn't it? Going off topic a bit, but I do remember sobbing my heart out after an episode of Boys from the Blackstuff.
I wonder what the album would have been like if Parker had stuck with his original idea of a concept album about suburban England. Most of my favorite artists and records are in the small time/small town/small moment genre and I think it's why my favorite songs on this album are the ones that hold to his original concept, like Local Girls, Saturday Nite Is Dead and You Can't Be Too Strong.
Don't misunderstand me; the album is fantastic. I'm just always thinking about the alternate possibilities of the art I love.
Love his hair on the cover. Is it static?
I finally got to listen to this album...
For the first time, and I have never heard about Graham Parker either. The reasons are, I am probably not that obsessed with music, and more importantly, not many others than the big names in the industry, who could sell many records, were imported to Yugoslavia. So mainstream was what was available, the maniacs and professionals did smuggle more obscure records from the west in the late 70s, early 80s. But it wasn't for the masses. You had to know someone, who knew someone...
I enjoyed the album very much, especially the first 4 songs, with You Can't Be Too Strong being my favorite track of the album, which is predictable, I guess. Leaving it up for her to decide, what's wrong, and consequently what's right... We need more of that attitude, even today.
I think it's a deeply emotional song but neutral, not judgemental. Wonder how this song was received back then?
Love the band throughout, the guitar especially, end especially on the chorus in Nobody Hurts You. I can also hear what has been said earlier about the vocals, he does sound sort of vicious...
The lyrics are very interesting, very into your face, raw.
That's really interesting. Back in the 70's my husband worked for a record exporter, mostly exporting to Scandinavia but also some clandestine shipments to Czechoslovakia. The packages were always addressed to different names, presumably somebody who worked at the airport was in the pay of the importers. I do remember the owner of the company my husband worked for visiting Czechoslovakia under the guise of attending an England football match to enable him to meet up with the importers. All very cloak and dagger stuff!
Back to the music though, I am pleased you enjoyed it without the benefit of nostalgia.
I saw them live several times back in the day and then saw them again a few years ago - he still had a great voice and the show, in a tiny club, was excellent.
Well, I said higher up, I love this album. I bought it pretty close to release, still have the original vinyl.
It's a record that I haven't listened to in a goodly while (though "Discovering Japan" is on a few of my running playlists and I played the acoustic anniversary version a load when it came out) so listening to it en masse again has been nice.
Graham Parker was 29 when this record came out, I get the vibe this was a time of change in his life, I say this for no reason other than my personal interpretation of some of the lyrics.
I love "Discovering Japan" I wonder if it is autobiographical then I wonder some more.....
I also wonder if "You can't be too strong" is autobiographical and I feel sad.
"Mercury poisoning" is funny.
It's just a good, good, borderline great, album by a band that were never as big as they should've been.
I get what BZ says higher up about the vocals, it was an era when many Brit bands sang in a kind of nasal American pitch (see 10cc and a bunch of the Glam Rock types, amongst others) and I can see some getting weary of same.
Sadly, this is an artist that I never explored that much beyond this album, never saw them live, but this album holds a special place in my affection.
"Oi'll give it foive".
Listening again, I am still thoroughly enjoying this album. He's no longer someone whose music I turn to frequently, but maybe I should.
I had forgotten how moving 'You Cant Be Too Strong' is - I clearly remember the shock of the first time I heard it and understood the subject matter.
I am pleased people are enjoying it. Hope you can sort out the technical issues @Louisa .
@whispered secret all sorted. 🙂
I'm having a technical issue. This has never happened before, or at least, I don't remember. Two songs (Discovering Japan & Passion Is No Ordinary Word) are listed on Spotify where they should be, but I can't select them. That's just weird...
I've seen that before with some albums. Have a look in the PM I started about the album club.
The E Street Band. The Band. The Rumour. Great groups powered by dual keyboards. Hot rhythm sections. Gunslinger guitarists. But you'd never mistake one for the others because of the singular composers and vocalists they each bring to the table. Do I rate GP and the Rumour alongside the others? Well, not quite. But they come really, really close on this album. Hook-filled melodies, great lyrics, a guy who's vocals make those lyrics jump out at you, and a smoking band. Produced and recorded so that you can clearly hear each musician, unlike their earlier (terrific) albums. Like the difference between hearing Born To Run and Darkness. When I heard them perform most of this album at a club one night, I was confident they would be playing arenas soon.
I didn't get into listening to Graham Parker until 89, when I was rebuilding my music collection after coming off the road. I got Squeezing Out Sparks with about a dozen other cassettes from the Nice Price bin at a K-mart in Yucca Valley. I remember thinking it was edgy and cool and it stayed in my tape player for quite some time and sent me in search of the rest of his stuff.
I still think it's edgy and cool.
Before I get to Squeezing Out Sparks, I'll mention something about Graham Parker. Back in the 80s, I was in a car with some friends, and a GP album was playing on the stereo. About halfway through, a woman asked us to change the tape. "His voice is alright for a couple songs, but after a while I can't stand it." I probably wouldn't remember this after all these years except...it wasn't the only time. Maybe a year later, same complaint, different woman. Then it happened with a guy I know. As much as I loved GP and the Rumour, as unfair as I found their lack of success, I was sometimes reminded that he was an acquired taste. Shame.
Top pick. Been far too long since I gave this a listen. Looking forward to it.
I love a record that you can go a long time without hearing, then when you put it on it's like slipping into a familiar pair of boots. Did I forget how much I love Saturday's Dead? If I did, I remember now.
The thing about Graham Parker is he's one of those artists who I get sucked into for a few weeks when I listen to an album. I'm having to resist listening to his other stuff tonight so I can focus on the assignment.
I love Graham Parker. This is probably my favorite of his albums, but my favorite song overall is Temporary Beauty from Another Grey Area. It'll be good to spin this a few times, since I haven't listened to it for a year or so.
Out of curiosity, what was the other record you were considering?
@whispered secret That record is always a surprise.
@Jerseyfornia It's all opinion, of course, but for me Innervisions towers over Songs In the Key of Life.
@Bill Zebub I won't argue with that.
I don't think this will be new to any of you, unlike Steve's choice, but I have always felt GP was under rated. For a time, before I found Bruce, he was my favourite artist and I think this is him at his best. I await your verdicts!
Well then this should be interesting for you, @whispered secret
I know the name, but I have never listened to this or any other Graham Parker album. I come to it with fresh ears and no preconceptions. I will let you know what I think once I have listened to it. 🙂