Back around this time in 1997, a package arrived from Lombard, IL. Since March of ‘96, such clandestine deliveries were a regularity at 22 Bacon Street in Westminster, MA. This particular padded (boy is there symbolism in that…) envelope contained “Squeezing our Sparks” by Graham Parker.
I brought the tape with me to my moms house in Wells Beach, Maine that weekend and popped it in my Walkman while Megan and Kyle splashed in the pool. From the first chords of “Discovering Japan,” I was hooked. Other highlights of the record include “Love Gets You Twisted,” and of course “Passion Is No Ordinary Word.” It’s my favorite Parker song mostly for the words. A old friend once remarked that music affects you differently depending on where you are in your life… Yeah.
Imagination’s one thing that comes easy to me,
But this is nothing else if not unreal,
When I pretend to touch you, you pretend to feel.
Passion is no ordinary word I think I love you
Passion is no ordinary word, ain’t manufactured,
Ain’t just another sound that you hear at night.”
On the first link above, you can read a few rave reviews including one from a guy who claimed seeing Parker and the Rumour tour for this record was the best live show he EVER saw, and he’s seen hundreds… He wrote, “They played as if their lives depended on it.”
So now I come back to Dave, my friend. Music and Dave… His life does depend on it. Graham Parker is one of his RnR saviors. On June 24th, Dave got to meet the man and catch him live. I love reading Dave just go off on music…
“I’m telling ya (yeah, I’ve raved before about GP, I know), Graham Parker and the Figgs show last night at the Double Door in Wicker Park was one of the best RNR shows I’ve ever — EVER — seen! That makes two GP & The Figgs shows as two of the best ever for me! It just doesn’t get any better. It just doesn’t. The Figgs are one of the tightest pop-rock bands I’ve ever seen, and although I’d seen them three times before last night, they showed that they’re in their prime now as just the Figgs. But backing GP is a whole other story…
I know you guys like GP, or some of GPs stuff, but I also think you would never go out of your way to see him play live. As great as he is solo, if ever you get the chance to see him with the Figgs anywhere from Boston to NY, GO! GO! If you don’t come back thinking you just saw history made in a live show, and that you rocked as hard as you ever have, soaked full of (expletive deleted) sweat, incredulous at what you’ve seen, and ears ringing for a day, I’d reimburse ever (expletive deleted) buck you spent…I promise. Think Jason & The Scorchers in Austin at SXSW at Liberty Lunch. Only there’s 1/4 the crowd and GP, at 56, is (expletive deleted) in your face with a band half his age playing as hard as any rock band can!
I’m incredibly happy for Dave. I had a similar experience with being a Lincoln Avenue roommate with Dave during the height of the Lounge Ax Era and exploring his albums, including Heat Treatment and Squeezing Out the Sparks. My favourite of Dave’s, and for all I know it only exists on vinyl, is GP’s solo live electric album. You Can’t Be Too Strong is unreal on that.
Chicago Sun-Times, December 26, 1982, by Don McLeese, who gave GP’s “Another Grey Area” album of the year:
“Since his emergence in the mid-70s, the music of Graham Parker has meant more to me than that of any other artist. None of his previous albums–as tough and true as they are–has affected me more than “Another Grey Area.”
From the Rolling Stone Record Guide (1982), by Kit Rachlis, music editor of the Boston Phoenix and writer for Rolling Stone, the Village Voice and Mother Jones, and by Dave Marsh, founding editor of Creem, and former editor of Rolling Stone:
“Howlin’ Wind and Heat Treatment (GP & The Rumour’s first two records), both released in 1976, are extraordinary works of neoclassic rock & roll that draw their anger from Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and the Rolling Stones. These are tough, passionate and hungry albums in which Parker refuses to accept anyone’s vision of himself as his own. (In 1979) Parker immediately produced (with Jack Nietsche) the best record of his career, Squeezing Out Sparks, which delivered on all the promise of his earliest LPs.” (All three received 5-stars = “Indespensable: a record that must be included in any comprehensive collection.”