Sunday, 24 May 2015

Graham Parker and The Rumour- The Parkerilla

By 1978 Graham Parker and The Rumour were one of the hottest live acts around, purveyors of sweaty working class rock and roll, the Rumour were a hard driving rhythm section steeped in R&B. At this time Parker was also one of the most frustrated musicians going around thoroughly fed up with his record label Mercury, therefore a live album was hastily assembled to fulfil his contractual obligations. The resulting release The Parkerilla has been described as patchy and a bit of a throwaway, I really like this album because you hear a band at their peak. You can hear all the passion and excitement of the band, as they push Parker with their insistent pulsating rhythms. The Parkerilla certainly established his reputation in Australia where he was a popular live act. I first heard this album as a kid, my Dad had it on a cassette I believe given to him by my uncle who in 1978 toured Australia with Parker and then again in the U.K in 1979.

The salacious opener Lady Doctor is classic horn driven R&B with Parker growling and sneering, the horn section has that New Orleans feel, very syncopated and funky. Fool's Gold is more soulful with some nice keys work from Bob Andrews, who supplied the brilliant organ solo to Sam Brown 1986 hit Stop, check that one out. Parker's signature tune Hey Lord Don't Ask Me Questions has a pulsing reggae groove, it's a desperate sounding track, similar to a lot of U.K bands at the time from Dr Feelgood to The Clash. Andrews' organ playing is amazing it slowly envelops Parker's vocals giving a great call and response feel. Perhaps one of the more underrated British musicians Brinsley Schwarz provides the funky guitar solo. Heat In Harlem captures the musical undercurrent of that part of New York, the funky soul and the jazzy intonations of the horns. Parker and the band then slow the pace of the song down, incorporating a reggae feel.

The opening of Silly Things sounds like The Impressions' It's All Right, that groups influence continues through the song with that easygoing Chicago style soul. Back To Schooldays is backs to the wall rock and roll with some funky New Orleans style tinkling from Andrews. The Rumour get a shuffle on for Heat Treatment the title track from Parker's 1976 album, Parker is at his breathless best on this track. Soul Shoes is a loose Stonesy number with the cutting rhythm guitar and the pounding horns blasting in unison. Not long after the release of this album Parker not only spilt from his label he also split from the rest of the band. Signing up with Arista Parker headed to New York to work with producer Jimmy Iovine on the Up The Escalator album. The Parkerilla is a great live document of a time when the U.K music scene was become revitalised by both the punk rock scene and the British pub rock scene.

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