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Alexey Ovchinnikov
Alexey Ovchinnikov

Lyrics Too Much Time To Think €? Graham Parker !!TOP!!

Lemon Recordings' Graham Parker rarities compilation The Official Art Vandelay Tapes is a legitimized version of a Parker bootleg that had circulated previously. The unofficial Art Vandelay Tapes (named for a character on Parker's favorite TV series, Seinfeld) gathered together stray tracks, most of which had been released previously only as B-side singles or on different variations of Parker albums between 1977 and 1999. For example, "Women in Charge" (1980), "Too Much Time to Think" (1985), and "That Thing Is Rockin'" (1990) were all non-LP B-sides, while "Habit Worth Forming" (1982) had appeared only on the American cassette version of Another Grey Area at a time when record companies were putting bonus tracks on cassettes to encourage sales of the medium. Parker emerged virtually fully formed in 1976, and his style -- energetic folk-rock arrangements, witty, caustic lyrics, and a raspy, rhythmic vocal delivery -- has varied only slightly over the years. Also, he has maintained an unusual degree of consistency. So, even though the material ranges across 22 years, it hangs together well. "Habit Worth Forming" may be unfamiliar to all but '80s cassette fans in the U.S., but when Parker sings a verse like "Some people get all the breaks/Some people just get broken down/Either way, no second takes/You hit or you miss and count the mistakes," as a shuffle beat rocks away and an electric guitar solos in a catchy countermelody, this could be any of his many excellent albums playing. There are, however, a few stylistic variations, such the country arrangement of the Burning Questions outtake "Class Act," and there are several intriguing covers, among them a slowed-down version of the Who's "Substitute," an "unplugged" version of the Smithereens' "Behind the Wall of Sleep," with the Smithereens themselves as the backup band, and Herman's Hermits' "I'm into Something Good." Taken together, all this makes for an hour's worth of terrific Graham Parker music previously consigned to out of print discs and tapes. As Parker himself notes of the unknown bootlegger who assembled a collection that finally achieved legality, "Somebody knew what they were doing when they compiled this album."

Lyrics Too Much Time To Think – Graham Parker


PASSION IS NO ORDINARY WORD: THE GRAHAM PARKER ANTHOLOGY 1976 - 1991, Rhino double CD R2 71425, 9/21/1993, USA It was never meant to get this out of hand. When I started, I fully believed I was going to change the consciousness of every individual on the planet earth. But only for approximately three albums. My task accomplished, I would mysteriously slide into self-imposed retreat, well-deserved oblivion, or perhaps a mental asylum. Any one of these futures seemed fairly interesting, even rosy, for they required very little actual work on my part. Staring at the enormous list of songs on this anthology makes me wonder how I arrived here. Those idyllic futures had completely evaporated by the time I wrote "Passion Is No Ordinary Word," and obviously, a life of meditation and navel-contemplation in a castle on the banks of Loch Ness was just not on. Where did I go right? To my critical hindsight (I'm just staring at the song titles, not listening to the songs), probably not in enough places. I wince at the thought of the vocals on "White Honey." Surely I was suffering from advanced throat cancer? And why on earth did I persist in singing "Question" on "Don't Ask Me Questions?" Was there some technical problem with the microphone? Was sibilance such a major obstacle in a 1970s recording studio that I dare not pronounce the "S?" And those desperately out-of-pitch choruses on "Discovering Japan" - what was the producer thinking of to let me get away with that? And the memory of the ridiculously long bridge section in "You Can't Take Love For Granted" sets my teeth on edge. And as for "Start A Fire," I just did not need to sing the title three times on the second chorus. That is so redundant, I could kick myself I could go on, but I'll leave you to pick out the clams yourself. I can make gallons of chowder out of this lot. This is supposed to be a "best-of?" Oh, I see - they're calling it an "anthology." Smart move, Rhino! The wince-inducing sea life notwithstanding, if this seemingly basic human need to compile dozens of totally disparate songs is unavoidable, then it should be at least executed with the grace and respect that has gone into this project. The record company actually called me and asked for my opinions! "But hey, enough of my yakking," to borrow Marry Dibergi's famous phrase. Why don't you buy this thing and help me creep into that castle on the banks of Loch Ness? This collection looks like a lifetime's work to me ... wait, hang on a minute, I'm just getting this idea for a song...- G.P., May 1993

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the last 20 years of rock 'n' roll knows that Graham Parker has recorded at least three beginning-to-end great albums: Howlin' Wind, Heat Treatment, and Squeezing Out Sparks. The trio appear regularly on lists of critics' and fans' favorites (especially the raw, brutal Squeezing Out Sparks) and remain high-water marks of what a writer and performer with commitment and talent can accomplish when he's accompanied by a band just as driven. But those who limit their enthusiasm for Parker to those three (admittedly out-standing) records are missing most of the story. It's a tale worth hearing in its entirety, a tale that gets better with time. For nearly two decades now, Graham Parker has consistently delivered vivid, barbed rock 'n' roll, with enough nods in the directions of reggae, folk, and classicpop to sketch the range of his ever-widening ambitions. He's been pouring it all out with the best of them, and Passion Is No Ordinary Word: The Graham Parker Anthology (1976-1991) features 39 of his greatest salvos, including a handful that all but the most obsessive GP fans may have missed the first time around. Unlike most rock 'n' roll performers who have earned long careers, Parker was no kid when he recorded his first record. Already 26 and as furious about his prospects in life as his contemporaries Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer, Parker saw rock 'n' roll as an escape from a life pumping petrol, one of his many unfulfilling day jobs after a stretch in a cover band in Gibraltar and Morocco. Another dead-end career opportunity found him breeding mice and guinea pigs for scientific research. So the frustration that often gives birth to the greatest rock 'n' roll had a long time to smolder. Yet where Rotten with the Sex Pistols and Strummer with The Clash astounded the world by tearing down rock 'n' roll and dancing in the ruins, Parker voiced his frustration with his life and rock by claiming for his own the traditional elements that had been forgotten by the dinosaurs then ruling the charts. Soul, especially the Stax variety, had been all but forgotten, and longtime standard-bearers like Van Morrison were gradually being confined to cult status. Parker's mission was to break that unfortunate situation wide open. In 1975, his solo demos caught the ear of Dave Robinson, who later formed the independent record label Stiff. Robinson, no dope, knew something new when he heard it and promptly introduced Parker to a band that could make his songs breathe fire. The Graham Parker Anthology kicks off with "White Honey," also the leadoff track from his 1976 debut Howlin Wind, a record that still can set off smoke detectors. It was immediately apparent that his band The Rumour, a quintet of pub-rock vets led by Brinsley Schwarz (along with guitarist Martin Belmont, bassist Andrew Bodnar, keyboardist Bob Andrews, and drummer Stephen Goulding), shared Parker's death-or-glory attitude. They had wandered from pub to pub for years in search of a fronting vision, and they locked into Parker's songs with a knowing vengeance. Augmented by a horn section and massaging background vocals, Parker emphasized how much excitement could be squeezed out of the soul music he had loved so long. Parker was quickly lumped in with the punks because of his intensity and belligerence, but Parker was one Brit whose version of revolution included history: He remembers, "I wrote 'White Honey' in 1975, when the fashionable music was still a hangover from the progressive era. There was no direction in pop music. Some people like David Bowie and The Rolling Stones were still coming out with actual songs, but most of what was coming out was sub-Bad Company or pseudo-Pink Floyd. I was listening to Busby Berkeley at the time, and I was very into Van Morrison, who seemed to be able to incorporate a lot of swing in his music. I'd gone back to the roots of what I was into as a teenager, which was black soul music, and I combined it with the Busby Berkeley, Hal Rubin, and Al Warren songs that I loved. That's what I was trying to do with 'White Honey,' with those cutesy lines and that horn section straight from R&B." Parker may label some lead line "cutesy," but Howlin Wind is not a light collection. "There's definitely some angst in 'Back To Schooldays,'" he allows. "It's fairly simple in what it's trying to say: the idea of what school was supposed to prepare us for and the reality of what we're living. The song said this whole system is wrong, and I'm gonna show you where it's at." The song sports a rockabilly rhythm (a Parker rarity) as well as a guitar line lifted from the Scotty Moore songbook, although the poison-pen lyrics identified the number as no one's but Parker's. "I'd never been a rockabilly fan when I was young, but about the time that I wrote that song, '74 or '75, all those rootsy ingredients were coming to me, and I was feeding off of them." Overseeing this feeding frenzy was producer Nick Lowe, renowned for his "bang it out/tart it up later" attitude toward making records. "Nick Lowe wasn't some technical producer there to lord it over me because I was green," Parker says. "I had only been in scruffy demo studios. I was just an emotional talent. I thought I was on a crusade; I thought I was about to enlighten the world with my wisdom. Nick Lowe was just there to capture it and keep everyone grooving.We made a very good team." They also made a team that could express the anger of punk without indulging the form. "Howlin' Wind" emphasized the edgy ska that The Clash would later exploit in a no-less-incendiary fashion on "White Man In Hammersmith Palais," with its references to "a strange religion/without any god" and a breeze that could cut down anyone. The apocalyptic "Don't Ask Me Questions" slammed the debut album to a close with an ominous guitar sliding from rock 'n' roll into reggae and then back again and a defiant statement of purpose that spared no one. Notes Parker. "'Howlin' Wind' and 'Don't Ask Me Questions' have a real feeling of Armageddon, don't they? I'd been into music as a teenager, and, Bob Marley's Catch A Fire reinforced reggae for me. I loved how it incorporated modern rock 'n' roll guitaring and some pop melodies. It felt like what I wanted to do: make intelligent lyrics and catchy tunes. Writing in that style was natural for me: '007' and 'Shanty Town' by Desmond Dekker were some of the first things I learned to play on guitar when I was a teenager. I was trying to do everything on that record. A first LP is very special to a performer, because everything you have goes into it, all your styles." Also included here is the first album's Rolling Stones-derived, harsh-yet-soothing rocker "Soul Shoes," though not in its original version. Shortly after the first album's release, Parker's British record label recorded a Parker & The Rumour concert as Live At Marble Arch, a promotional-only record. That collectors' favourite includes this version of "Soul Shoes." As with the work of other great performers who came of age in the '70s, folks like Nils Lofgren and David Johansen, Parker's promo-only live LP detailed the intensity and variety of his concert performances far more persuasively than later, officially released live sets. The guitars on this version underline how much the songs owes to Keith Richards "Happy." Recorded only a few months after Howlin Wind, the sophomore set Heat Treatment (1976) was a real jump in terms of songwriting, performance, and density of production. Parker now says that producer Robert "Mutt" Lange can be "squarely blamed or credited for the sound on Heat Treatment. On Howlin Wind the arrangements were strictly by Graham Parker & The Rumour. For the next record we thought we'd try a producer who liked to arrange. He liked to tailor songs into hit singles. We thought we'd like some of those." On Heat Treatment, Parker's affection - and affinity - for soul music rose to the surface, both in his Stax-derived songwriting and the arrangements. Says GP: "I was very determined to get soul music to young people again, in part because it was diametrically opposed to the progressive hangover. I also wanted to get away from the 'new Dylan' tag. I loved the idea of horns, especially because they were out of fashion." The album's soul imperative was most evident on "Heat Treatment," a loud, big-production rocker that cascades on the tension between the soul horns and the band members' impulsive vocals. It's a track on which Parker's soul-revival dreams come true. "Heat Treatment" also makes clear how pervasive Lange's influence was on the record. Says Parker: "Back in the '70s, Bruce Springsteen once asked me, "Who did that really high vocal [on the breakdown]? That's amazing.' I figured it must have been Bob Andrews, but only in recent years did I realize it was Mutt, of course." How did he figure this out? "Listen to the high vocals on all those Def Leppard records he produces. He's all over them." Other standouts from Heat Treatment include the soul-rocker "Pourin' It All Out," of which Parker now only says, "Hey, to be on your second LP after being an obscure kid from the suburbs all your life, it's a great feeling to be able to pour it all out in public." When he shouted, "I don't mind telling you/What I'm going through/I don't mind telling you/ 'Cause every word is true," he summarized his intentions with precision and defiance. Even more crucial to Parker's career was the album's climatic ballad, "Fools' Gold," a statement of belief in the face of cynicism that remains the favourite track of many GP fans. "It's pretty Stonesy. I don't play it much anymore, but it's still pretty timely. It captures a large drama with those big, open A and D chords. It's an anthem of sorts, I suppose. Some hair band should record it and bring me real gold." Parker's newfound understatement notwithstanding, for years "Fools' Gold" was the centerpiece of his live shows, the point in his performance when he best articulated his hard-headed romanticism. "I'm a fool/So I'm told," he'd sing, and then wear the appellation like it was his most prize possession. "Hold Back The Night," a raucous recasting of The Trammps' contemporaneous hit, was first available on these shores on an EP called The Pink Parker, pressed on guess what-color vinyl. Recorded by Lange around the time of Heat Treatment, it served as a link to Parker's next record. "Seeing as I was pushing for the soul horn-section thing, I wanted to do a whole EP in that sort of style," says Parker. Even more important, the recording emphasized how little he cared about appearing trendy. As he recorded "Hold Back The Night," The Trammps had begun moving to straight disco (their "Disco Inferno" was imminent), a form considered anathema by most rockers. But Parker knew a great song by a great group when he heard it, and damn the trend-makers. Peaking at #58, a single version of the song became Parker's first charting single in the States - and his last one for six years. Next up was Stick To Me (1977), which was nearly a disaster. The album was recorded with producer Bob Potter, whom Parker picked after hearing a Grease Band record that Potter had engineered. Although Parker was pleased with Potter's work, it was not Potter's version that eventually came out. "There was a big problem on the tape: Oxide was coming off. There were many accusations of neglect leveled at the studio. It was a dreadful streak of fate. I thought the record was done, but then we couldn't mix it. It wouldn't balance and there was black stuff coming off the tapes. We had only a week to redo it [with Nick Lowe back at the helm], because we were scheduled to go on some Scandinavian tour or some nonsense that was part of my manager's plan to keep me on the road all the time." On the original version of the record, Parker & The Rumout cut some tracks alongside a 50-piece string section. "We had to cut that by half for the redo," Parker says. "Those songs were much more lush before. At the time, I wanted to incorporate more grandeur into our music. The war cry in the studio was 'grandiose and Vangelis!' I know that some people think the album sounded pub-rock, a movement that I was definitely not a part of. The released version of Stick To Me is very much live takes, grungy-sounding. I liked it because it was so nasty, but it was not meant to be like that at all." Some of the Stick To Me tracks burst through the hurried mixes with the excitement of a group sure of their mission, even if they all had an eye on the studio clock. "Stick To Me" in particular was as aggressive as anything the band had ever recorded, with guitar solos jostling against a string section that pushed back just as hard, urging everyone to even higher gear. The down-tempo "Watch The Moon Come Down" piled up influences as diverse as The Drifters and Bruce Springsteen, adding up to a statement of solitary reflection as enticing as "Up On The Roof" and as frightening as "Backstreets." The combative "Thunder And Rain," built around Schwarz's forbidding lead line, treads near the punks' turf of nihilism, with only a hint of accommodation. Nowadays Parker considers Stick To Me a salvage job, the best the group could come up with in such a short amount of rerecording time, but even a cursory listen suggests that his vision was so focused that nothing, not even oxide-shedding tape heads, could stop him. Next up for the road-locked unit was The Parkerilla, a double-live set and a terrible disappointment, especially to those fans who had been lucky enough to find Live At Marble Arch. "We were a pretty popular live act, into the 3,000-seat theater range. It was the logical, boring thing to put out a live album to satisfy the fans." The skimpy set, which included on its fourth side a weird disco remix of "Don't Ask Me Questions," was the final straw that cracked Parker's never-smooth relationship with his first record company. Furious that his records were being promoted passively (to put it kindly), Parker got out of his deal and promptly wrote a song about the experience "Mercury Poisoning." Says Parker, "My manager, the brilliant Dave Robinson, suggested that in our hatred for Mercury we should do a whole LP slandering the record company, all vitriolic songs squarely aimed at Mercury. I wrote this song in half an hour, and we recorded it at the same time as the Squeezing Out Sparks songs." But for all its horn-driven energy, "Mercury Poisoning" seemed a bit flip compared to the other songs he was writing for that album, and it was stuck on a promo 45 that preceded the first official release on Parker's new label, Arista. A memorable B-side from this period was a bellicose take on "I Want You Back (Alive)." One critic at the time


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