Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

New Music – Graham Parker

The great Graham Parker has a new album released on Monday (22nd March 2010).

This is his press release:-

Not too long ago, I was courted by Primary Wave, a publishing company that specializes in finding “placements” for their artists’ songs.  They insisted that I would fit in well with their “iconic” catalog, a portfolio that includes the songs of Kurt Cobain, Hall & Oates and John Lennon, among other luminaries. 

Help, I’m an icon! I thought. 

There are other perhaps less flattering words that they could have used to describe me and that might well be more accurate, but hey, I’m all in favor of a world where folks with money hoist me up to impossible heights, if only to experience the dizzying thrill of dropping like a stone when it is discovered that the rest of the world does not agree with their assessments.

OK, I’ll cunningly go along with their delusions, I figured.  Let them waste a few bob on me.  My songs have certainly been inert for so long weeds are growing between the stanzas.  At least if I knew what a stanza was, and if my songs have any of them, I’d most certainly expect to find a jungle of invasive species crowding them out and blotting out the sunlight.

But the smart folks at Primary Wave have caught on bigtime to the fact that, although CD sales for most of us are, ahem, not very good (!), songs don’t go away.  If they did you wouldn’t have to hear the insufferable “Somebody’s Watching Me” on the worst of the otherwise excellent Geico ads every five minutes.  Not to mention having to stomach a Journey tune on the final Soprano’s episode, which I refused to watch out of spite.  (Did they all get whacked?  I’ll never know.)

 

So anyway, early last summer I received an e-mail from a Primary Wave rep. who deals with the West Coast end of things, TV shows in particular.  It was one of those missives that television music supervisors presumably throw out to all their music publishing contacts, requesting a “Main Title,” a theme tune for an upcoming show.

The rep. was unsure as to whether I’d be interested in writing something on spec, and certainly, it’s not an endeavor I’ve ever thought of attempting before, but the idea of the show in question must have got my juices flowing, for within about half an hour I had a ridiculously catchy tune that fit the bill perfectly.

I then booked time at a local studio and recorded a one-and-a half minute opus (that’s all they needed), guitars, vocals, keyboards and synth drums, and was well pleased with the effort.

Not long after submitting the track, I was told that the music supervisor on the show, although expressing high regard for my effort, had ultimately chosen something else.

Not much of a surprise, really, as my observance of TV usages has led me to the conclusion that they mostly either use trendy Indie acts right out of a Nick Harcourt playlist or, like — the Who.  As always, Trend and Commerce rule, and their choice in this case was no exception, using as they did a tune by someone you’ve never heard of who nevertheless was in an “Indie” band with a very silly name.

Two weeks later, my contact sent me another request for a Main Title, and with the juices still boiling away, I wrote an even catchier piece (this time they only wanted 40 seconds) and repeated the steps listed above.

To be fair, the first show had at least picked a pretty decent piece of work, trendyness of the artist notwithstanding, but on this second show they chose the lamest instrumental imaginable, probably because they decided to go cheap and hired some hack to cobble something together instead of paying a decent chunk of change to an actual name artist.

So, two rejections, but two potential songs in the bag for me.

And here’s where it gets interesting.  What if, I thought, I wrote my own treatments for TV shows — situation comedies for the most part — and then wrote the theme tunes to go with them?  The only person who could reject them would be me, and that wasn’t likely to happen because they’d be so bloody good!

I plunged into the concept with some enthusiasm, knowing as I do that anything that gets me off the couch to pick up the guitar and to then return to the couch with said guitar to actually do some work instead of passing out on said couch in front of some highly dubious footwork courtesy of the Fox Soccer Channel would be a good thing.

Within a month or two I had ten songs, which included fleshed out versions of the ones that I’d worked on for the TV shows in the first place.

Then I took the skeletal treatments of the shows and tarted them up into more fully realized plots, recorded “More Questions Than Answers,” the stunning Johnny Nash tune from the early ‘70’s that I’ve had in mind to cover for about 40 years, and there it was, a new album, “Imaginary Television.”

In the booklet that accompanies the CD and Vinyl (yes, vinyl!), you’ll find TV show plots and fake press reviews instead of lyrics (Judd Apatow, call me….), so don’t cheat and ask someone to burn you a copy because by just listening to the songs you won’t have a clue as to what’s going on.

As well as some solo gigs, me and the Figgs will be doing the rounds, so please keep an eye on the Tour page.

 

Back in the real world, Primary Wave have already been getting results, and the best part is (when it comes to TV show usage at least) that songs are often used in the background, so no ones knows about it.  (The fame I don’t need, I’ll just take the dosh, thanks)

 

Now, there may well be a Paleolithic among you who thinks that even wanting to have tunes placed on TV shows, in movies or in adverts, is a sell out, a morally reprehensible idea, a crass indefensibly offensive affront to the delicate sensibilities of both artiste and audience, a reproachable attack on the bedrock virtues of nonconformist ideology as espoused by 50 years of iconoclastic observance to unwritten codes of conduct evinced by a continual wellspring of rock ‘n’ roll rebellion (stop him…please…) now well established and accepted as a hierarchy implicitly sanctioned in the embedded psyche of a generation of man/child (…oh…) torchbearers still gripping unflinchingly the flame of truth-against-power, a flame (…the humanity…) held dear to countless manifestations of the unadulterated poetics of musical purity, unencumbered (no…no more I beg) by commerciality, resistant to compromise, bound implacably to the concepts of art and simultaneously immune to the vagaries of market and acceptability, popularity (…stop…) and monetary gain, resplendent and intrinsically wedded to higher aspirations of artistic insularity and the (…him…) steadfast multiplicity of complex compositional profundities deeply inherent to the form as established in long-standing antiestablishment diatribes, agitprop and anti-nabob in both structural formulation (…Can’t stand…) (…this…) and density of sonic delivery, immersed in — for want of a better word — cool.                  

Well, then you’d be a twit.

 

GP

I for one will be in line to buy a copy, in the meantime here is a taster.

If you can’t wait you can download via e-Music HERE

“Weather Report” – Graham Parker

“Bring Me A Heart Again” – Graham Parker

To buy the music of Graham Parker click HERE

Finally “yes m’lady” here is some vintage Parker

March 20, 2010 Posted by | New Music, New News, Video | | 2 Comments

Graham Parker

A posting on Graham Parker has been long overdue on this site so here we go but don’t ask me questions.

“Don’t Ask Me Questions” – Graham Parker

Crimson autograph is what we leave behind, everywhere man set foot.
War mongers laughing loud behind a painted face
Throwing titbits to the crowd then blowing up the place.

Chorus

Hey lord dont ask me questions, hey lord dont ask me questions
Hey lord dont ask me questions please!
Hey lord dont ask me questions, hey lord dont ask me questions
Hey lord aint no answer in me. (solo)

Well I stand up for liberty but cant liberate
Pent up agony I see you take first place.
Well who does this treachery I shout with bleeding hand
Is it you or is it me well I never will understand.

Chorus then solo

Well I see the thousands screaming rushing for the cliffs
Just like lemmings into the sea, well well well
Who waves his mighty hand and breaks the precious rules?
Well the same one must understand who wasted all these fools.

Chorus

Aint no answer in me no, aint no answer in me
uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh..

The above track was taken from his 1976 debut album “Howlin’ Wind” which as you can see was credited purely to Graham Parker

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Graham Parker sang in small-time English bands such as the Black Rockers and Deep Cut Three while working in dead-end jobs like a glove factory and a petrol station. In 1975, he recorded a few demo tracks in London with Dave Robinson, who would shortly found Stiff Records and who connected Parker with his first backing band of note, The Rumour.

Graham Parker had one track, “Back to Schooldays”, released on the compilation album, A Bunch of Stiff Records for Stiff Records.

In the summer of 1975 Parker joined forces with ex-members of three British pub-rock bands to form Graham Parker and the Rumour. The new group consisted of Parker (lead vocals, guitar) with Brinsley Schwarz (lead guitar) and Bob Andrews (keyboards) (both ex Brinsley Schwarz), Martin Belmont (rhythm guitar, ex Ducks Deluxe) and Andrew Bodnar (bass) and Steve Goulding (drums) (both ex-Bontemps Roulee). They began doing the rounds of the British pub rock scene, often augmented at times by a four-man horn section known as The Rumour Brass: John “Irish” Earle (saxophone), Chris Gower (trombone), Dick Hanson (trumpet), and Ray Bevis (saxophone).

As noted above the band’s first album, Howlin’ Wind, was released to acclaim in 1976 and was rapidly followed by the stylistically similar Heat Treatment. A mixture of rock, ballads, and reggae-influenced numbers, these albums reflected Parker’s early influences (Motown, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison) and contained the songs which formed the core of Parker’s live shows — “White Honey”, “Soul Shoes”, “Lady Doctor”, “Fool’s Gold”, and his early signature tune “Don’t Ask Me Questions”, which hit the Top 40 in the UK.

Parker and the Rumour built a reputation as incendiary live performers: the promotional album Live at Marble Arch was recorded at this time and shows off their raw onstage style. Like the pub rock scene he was loosely tied to, the singer’s class-conscious lyrics and passionate vocals signaled a renewal of rock music as punk rock began to flower in Britain.

It was 1977’s “Pink Parker” EP which first caught my attention which was supported by this 1977 TOTP performance of The Trammps classic.

It was undoubtedly as a live performer that Parker came into his own though his 1978 live album “Parkerilla” didn’t quite match up to expectations.

Three sides were live, with no new songs and with versions of previously released songs that added nothing to the prior studio cuts. Side four was devoted to a “disco” remake of “Don’t Ask Me Questions”. The 2-disc record was regarded by some as a ploy to fulfil Parker’s contractual commitment to Mercury records, and as a ripoff for fans. Others think it one of the better live albums of the 70s on a par with Thin Lizzy‘s Live and Dangerous. (not me!).

Energized by his new label, Arista Records, and the presence of legendary producer Jack Nitzsche, Parker followed with Squeezing Out Sparks, widely held to be the best album of his career.

For this album, The Rumour’s brass section, prominent on all previous albums, was jettisoned, resulting in a spare, intense rock backing for some of Parker’s most brilliant songs. Of particular note was “You Can’t Be Too Strong”, one of rock music’s rare songs to confront the topic of abortion, however ambivalently.

Squeezing out Sparks is still ranked by fans and critics alike as one of the finest rock albums ever made. Rolling Stone named it #335 on their 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In an early 1987 Rolling Stone list of their top 100 albums from 1967-1987, Squeezing Out Sparks was ranked at #45, while Howlin’ Wind came in at #54.

The companion live album Live Sparks, sent to US radio stations as part of a concerted promotional campaign for Parker, showed how well the songs worked on stage, and included another snapping r&b cover, the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back“.

The jettisoned brass section, incidentally, would continue to play on other people’s records credited as The Irish Horns (on the album London Calling by The Clash) or The Rumour Brass, most notably on Katrina and the Waves‘ 1985 hit “Walking On Sunshine“.

Here is a track from the album.

“Local Girls” – Graham Parker

Sit by my window and look outside, wonder why the sun don’t shine on me

What’s wrong with you, you stupid child, don’t you think that I’m the one

you’re waiting to see?

Don’t talk too much ’cause she falls for the suckers, makes her feel

everything is secure

Don’t ever leave a footprint on the floor

Chorus: Don’t bother with the local girls, don’t bother with the local girls

They don’t bother me

She’s probably half-wit, she must be straight,

or bound to have a mother who knows nothing but hate

Don’t want to love her, I’d rather knock her down

Standing at the busstop where she waits each morning

So isolated that she thinks that the army is the place where a man ought to be

Don’t bother with them, they don’t bother me

Chorus

They got the walk, they got the talk, right down without a flaw

At 6:00 I got to stop my dreaming at the counter of the store

Chorus

Without a doubt I got to intercept, must be time someone ran and shouted in

their head

You look all right in the cheap print dress,

but everytime you swish it ’round you make me disappear

I’m aware of exactly what I’m doing, making everything a mystery

Don’t bother with it, it don’t bother me

 

To buy the music of Graham Parker click HERE

November 25, 2009 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Old Music, Video | , | Leave a comment

   

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