2.19.2009

SQUEEZING OUT SPARKS + LIVE SPARKS by Graham Parker

The 1970s brought the world of music both new wave and punk, and the two musical styles have never merged as well as on Graham Parker's album Squeezing Out Sparks. The added Live Sparks and two bonus songs are nice icing on this musical cake.

Squeezing Out Sparks sets its tone from the opening song "Discovering Japan." This introduces the omnipresent electric guitars, combination of personal feelings and social commentary, and raw poetry infused with anger. This is true for most of the songs here, ranging in topics from the "problem" with women in town ("Local Girls") to the fake emotions between lovers ("Passion Is No Ordinary Word"). Even the powerful "You Can't Be Too Strong," a song about abortion, manages to work in cynicism and brashness along with its sentiment. By the time Parker wraps everything up with "Don't Get Excited" you feel like you've experienced a tremendous social journey. Parker's lyrics and singing are supported by an all-around great band.

When Squeezing Out Sparks was released in 1979 Arista also released Live Sparks, collected radiocasts of Squeezing Out Sparks (played in the same order as the original album) along with a cover of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" and the energetic "Mercury Poisoning." While the live songs sound almost identical to the studio versions, the two bonus songs are a very well done -- who knew you could sing along to a song about dying from industrial pollution? -- and make Squeezing Out Sparks + Live Sparks an outstanding album.

Overal grade: A+
Reviewed by James Lynch

2 comments:

jellyrollfortheearhole said...

In his time Graham Parker was one of those artists who was "supposed" to be a darling of the hipoise. Despite the critical luster he always remained well under the surface of mainstream acceptance. Of course, it makes sense; his work may've been too trenchant and honest for most.

Squeezing is a brilliant work that has lost nothing to time. And, alas, a quality of work which he was never able to equal again. Well, I'm speculating here; I never really followed his career much outside of this album. GP began his career in the sort of Springsteen/Elvis Costello mold, a little heavier on the R & B golden age than his peers and Squeezing was his foray into a more guitar oriented sound. (A sound that appealed to me.) Certainly it stands as one of the best albums of its period.

A note about Mercury Poisoning: It wasn't about "industrial pollution" but a swipe at his former record company, long gone Mercury Records.

jellyrollfortheearhole said...

In his time Graham Parker was one of those artists who was "supposed" to be a darling of the hipoise. Despite the critical luster he always remained well under the surface of mainstream acceptance. Of course, it makes sense; his work may've been too trenchant and honest for most.

Squeezing is a brilliant work that has lost nothing to time. And, alas, a quality of work which he was never able to equal again. Well, I'm speculating here; I never really followed his career much outside of this album. GP began his career in the sort of Springsteen/Elvis Costello mold, a little heavier on the R & B golden age than his peers and Squeezing was his foray into a more guitar oriented sound. (A sound that appealed to me.) Certainly it stands as one of the best albums of its period.

A note about Mercury Poisoning: It wasn't about "industrial pollution" but a swipe at his former record company, long gone Mercury Records.