Monday, 29 August 2011

I Heard A Rumour.....

So there we were on the 90's blog, discussing antecedents to Hard-Fi, as you do, and not coming up with much of a consensus, when the other day, while inspecting a refrigerated packet of Polish sausages in Sainsbury's (because I'm classy, like) I suddenly thought "ahhhhh, Graham Parker And The Rumour".



Almost forgotten today, at least in his home country, Parker was considered a seminal figure in his day, and, along with Dr. Feelgood was seen as one of the crucial antecedents of Punk. Emerging from the Pub Rock scene, his career preceded the likes of Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, whose fame would eventually far outstrip his own.



With his rasping vocals and bug-eyed sunglasses, Parker looked and sounded like an angry wasp. Fully equipped with chips on both shoulders from a background of dead-end jobs (he was once, famously, a petrol pump attendant) his gnarly, class-conscious lyrics were at times almost sneered out, ever in danger of tumbling over themselves into incoherent rage. On the other hand, when he slowed things down, he sounded pleasingly like Dave Angel, Eco Warrior.



It's a shame posterity hasn't found a place for him alongside his better-known peers. That said, they're probably making a film about him even as we speak....

12 comments:

W. Kasper said...

Good call. Another pub rocker strangely forgotten today is Nick Lowe. Guru to Elvis Costello, and missing link between Bowie & Dr. Feelgood.

Alex Niven said...

I like it!

Slightly worried though that this Hard-Fi meme might have grown a monstrous pair of legs ...

Phil Knight said...

Alex - never mind about Hard-Fi

When we're all OK about watching Willy Deville smoking onstage through a cigarette holder then I'll consider my decadent work done (bwah ha ha...)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT1m6kEsR1E&feature=related

Phil Knight said...

Wayne - I'm not really up to speed with the whole Nick Lowe/Dave Edmunds/Rockpile thing (don't they all look like Top Gear presenters?) but I remember this performance as though it were yesterday:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qy2HdKaP1EU

W. Kasper said...

They looked more like Magpie presenters - much nicer than the Top Gear twats, by most accounts. However, Costello sounds like much more of a git, who walked over all their humble heads to greater success.

Phil Knight said...

Ah, much as I like "This Year's Model", Costello's serious artiste schtick winds me up no end.

Also, his melody well seemed to dry out completely circa 1980.

W. Kasper said...

Well he got truly insufferable when he started fancying himself as the new Bacharach or even Cole Porter. Puns and string sections doth not a genius make.

After 1980, a lot of his career progressed with an eye towards redeeming himself in the eyes of the US media, after notorious drunken remarks he made about Ray Charles and James Brown.

Martin Wisse said...

The missing link there is Stiff records, innit? From Nick Lowe and Wreckless Eric to Ian Dury and finally Elvis Costello. By all accounts Costello was always more succesful at selling himself to the critics even when he was still touring with all the good time rockers on Stiff...

Phil Knight said...

Ah yes his notorious "Clapton" moment. I wonder why he had it in for Ray Charles in particular? A bizarre target for anyone's ire.

It's a shame he followed the critic-pleasing over-wordy/tame-music route, because he could really crank it out. This clip is fantastic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMvI5OX6nUw

W. Kasper said...

Martin -

Yeah definitely the Stiff connection. It was something of a cherished UK institution in the late 70s. But Costello wasn't there long, and had a much more aggressive publicity/management team. He didn't really do great chart-wise (compared to Ian Dury for example), but even as a small child I remember him being all over TV and magazines. His Ray Charles fuck-up was while wooing Rolling Stone, after all (who were giving him a lot of hype as a new wave Springsteen until then). The style of 'Get Happy' was obviously something of a response to the hubbub.

Greyhoos said...

As I recall: At the time, the same RS-tyoe crits who fawned over Elvis Costello in the U.S. did the same for Graham Parker, but it never translated into significant sales or reception for the latter. And Parker also had a decent share of label promo push, as well.

Phil Knight said...

Yeah I think GP's reputation in the US is still higher than in the UK. He was certainly appearing on the Letterman show in the late 80's and maybe even into the 90's.