Graham Parker

Graham Parker is an English New Wave/soul-rock singer and songwriter who released the popular 1976–79 albums Howlin’ Wind, Heat Treatment, Stick to Me, and Squeezing Out Sparks. His most popular songs include “Don’t Ask Me Questions,” “Heat Treatment,” “The Heat in Harlem,” “Local Girls,” and “Protection.” Up through his 1980 release The Up Escalator, he was backed by The Rumour, which also recorded as a separate entity. During the 1980s, he issued sporadic titles on Arista, Elektra, and RCA, scoring a hit with “Temporary Beauty” from his 1982 release Another Grey Area.


Background

Parker was born in Hackney, East London, on November 18, 1950. At the outset of the beat boom, he formed The Deepcut Three (later The Black Rockers) with classmates from Chobham Secondary Modern School in Surrey. They mimicked the Beatles‘ look, but didn’t actually learn any instruments. By age 15, he was a major enthusiast of American Stax and Motown, attending soul dances in nearby Woking and Camberley, both R&B hotbeds at the time.

From age 16 to 21, he worked a series of jobs (animal virus research, ditch-digging) in England and on Guernsey in the Channel Islands, where he took up guitar and practiced finger picking. In 1971, he hitched through France, Spain, and Morocco, settling for a time on Gibraltar. While there, he gigged with a psych band called Pegasus, which he attempted to steer toward soul-rock under the name Terry Burbot’s Magic Mud.

Back in England, Parker pumped petrol and redoubled his efforts to form a band. Through a late-1974 ad in Melody Maker, he met Paul Riley, recently of Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers. Through Riley, Parker met Dave Robinson, ex-manager of Brinsley Schwarz and owner of a studio above the Hope & Anchor pub in Islington.

At Robinson’s studio, Parker demoed several originals, including “Between You and Me” and “Nothin’s Gonna Pull Us Apart.” The latter got an airing on the Charlie Gillett show “Honky Tonk” on BBC London 94.9, prompting interest from Phonogram. Robinson helped Parker find musicians for his backing band and linked him with musician–producer Nick Lowe, the former frontman of Brinsley Schwarz.

Parker’s backing band, The Rumour, included two ex-Brinsley’s, keyboardist Bob Andrews and namesake guitarist Brinsley Schwarz, plus rhythm guitarist Martin Belmont, bassist Andrew Bodnar, and drummer Steve Goulding. They were augmented at times by The Rumour Horns: trombonist Chris Gower (ex-Iguana), trumpeter Dick Hanson (ex-The Greatest Show on Earth), and saxophonists Ray Beavis and John “Irish” Earle (ex-Gnidrolog, Nine Days Wonder).


1976


Howlin’ Wind

In April 1976, Graham Parker debuted with the Vertigo–Mercury release Howlin’ Wind, his first of five consecutive studio albums with backing by The Rumour.

1. “White Honey” (3:33)
2. “Nothin’s Gonna Pull Us Apart” (3:21)
3. “Silly Thing” (2:51)
4. “Gypsy Blood” (4:37)
5. “Between You and Me” (2:25)
6. “Back to Schooldays” (2:54)
7. “Soul Shoes” (3:13)
8. “Lady Doctor” (2:50)
9. “You’ve Got to Be Kidding” (3:30)
10. “Howlin’ Wind” (3:58)
11. “Not If It Pleases Me” (3:12)
12. “Don’t Ask Me Questions” (5:38)

Studio Eden Studios, London
Producer Nick Lowe
Graham Parker – vocals, acoustic guitar, Fender rhythm guitar
The Rumour
Brinsley Schwarz – guitar, Hammond organ, backing vocals
Bob Andrews – Lowrey organ, Hammond organ, piano, backing vocals
Martin Belmont – guitar, backing vocals
Steve Goulding – drums, backing vocals
Andrew Bodnar – Fender bass
Brass
Stewart Lynas – brass arrangement
Herschel Holder – trumpet
Dave Conners – first tenor saxophone
Brinsley Schwarz – second tenor saxophone
Danny Ellis – trombone
John “Viscount” Earle – baritone saxophone
Additional personnel
Paul Bailey – guitar on 5
Dave Otway – drums on 5
Paul Riley – bass guitar on 5
Noel Brown – slide guitar on 6, dobro on 11
Dave Edmunds – guitar on 6
Ed Deane – slide guitar on 7
Stewart Lynas – alto saxophone on 8

March 26, 1976
A. Silly Thing
B. “I’m Gonna Use It Now” (3:11)

July 2
A: “Soul Shoes”
B: “White Honey”

In France, Vertigo lifted
A: “Back to Schooldays”
B: “(Hey Lord) Don’t Ask Me Questions”


Heat Treatment

Graham Parker released his second album with The Rumour, Heat Treatment, in October 1976 on Vertigo and Mercury Records.

1. “Heat Treatment” (3:07)
2. “That’s What They All Say” (3:46)
3. “Turned Up Too Late” (3:38)
4. “Black Honey” (3:57)
5. “Hotel Chambermaid” (2:55)
6. “Pourin’ It All Out” (3:15)
7. “Back Door Love” (3:01)
8. “Something You’re Going Through” (4:10)
9. “Help Me Shake It” (3:37)
10. “Fools’ Gold” (4:15)

Recorded Rockfield Studios, Wales
Producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Nick Lowe (track 7 only)

Graham Parker – vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Bob Andrews – keyboards, backing vocals
Brinsley Schwarz – guitar, backing vocals
Steve Goulding – drums, backing vocals
Andrew Bodnar – Fender bass
Martin Belmont – guitar, backing vocals

Additional personnel
John “Viscount” Earle – saxophones
Danny Ellis – trombone
Albie Donnelly – saxophones
Dick Hanson – trumpet

October 29
A: Hotel Chambermaid
B: Don’t Ask Me Questions

In the US, Mercury lifted
A: Heat Treatment
B: Back Door Love

January 28, 1977
A: Pourin’ It All Out
B: Help Me Shake It


1977


The Pink Parker

On March 11, Graham Parker and The Rumour released The Pink Parker, a four-song EP on pink vinyl with two live cuts and two new studio tracks: “(Let Me Get) Sweet On You” and The Trammps cover “Hold Back The Night.”

A1. “Hold Back The Night
A2. “(Let Me Get) Sweet On You
B1. “White Honey (Live)”
B2. “Soul Shoes (Live)”

Australian sleeve


Stick to Me

Graham Parker released his third album with The Rumour, Stick to Me, in October 1977 on Vertigo and Mercury.

1. “Stick to Me” (3:29)
2. “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down” (Earl Randle) (3:26)
3. “Problem Child” (3:25)
4. “Soul on Ice” (3:01)
5. “Clear Head” (2:58)
6. “The New York Shuffle” (2:58)
7. “Watch the Moon Come Down” (4:49)
8. “Thunder and Rain” (3:15)
9. “The Heat in Harlem” (7:00)
10. “The Raid” (2:39)

Recorded Eden Studios, London
Producer Nick Lowe (re-made the record in a week after an oxide leak rendered the first recording un-mixable)

Graham Parker – vocals, guitar
Brinsley Schwarz – guitar
Bob Andrews – organ, piano, keyboards, backing vocals
Martin Belmont – guitar, backing vocals
Andrew Bodnar – bass guitar
Steve Goulding – drums, backing vocals

Additional personnel
John Altman – saxophone
Ray Beavis – saxophone
David Bedford – arrangements
John Earle – saxophone
Chris Gower – trombone
Dick Hanson – trumpet
Darryl Leeque – percussion

A. “New York Shuffle”
B. “The Bleep” (a “bleeped” version of “The Raid”)

In New Zealand, Vertigo lifted The All-Weather Parker
A. “Heat In Harlem”
B. “Thunder and Rain”

New Zealand Albums (RMNZ) 17
UK Albums (OCC) 19
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan) 29
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report) 35 


1978


The Parkerilla

In May 1978, Graham Parker and The Rumour released The Parkerilla, a live double-album drawn from US and UK dates on their recent tour.

1. “Lady Doctor” (2:48)
2. “Fool’s Gold” (4:23)
3. “Tear Your Playhouse Down” (Earl Randle) (3:50)
4. “Don’t Ask Me Questions” (5:00)
5. “The Heat in Harlem” (7:35)
6. “Silly Thing” (3:15)
7. “Gypsy Blood” (5:15)
8. “Back to Schooldays” (2:40)
9. “Heat Treatment” (3:06)
10. “Watch the Moon Come Down” (5:15)
11. “New York Shuffle” (2:57)
12. “Soul Shoes” (3:23)
13. “Hey Lord, Don’t Ask Me Questions” (new studio recording) (3:51)

Recorded Winter Gardens, Bournemouth
Manchester Opera House
Apollo Theatre, Oxford
The Palladium, NYC

Length 53:18

Producer Mutt Lange

Graham Parker – vocals, guitar
Brinsley Schwarz – guitar, slide guitar, backing vocals
Bob Andrews – organ, piano, keyboards, backing vocals, musical director, horn arrangements
Martin Belmont – guitar, backing vocals
Andrew Bodnar – bass guitar
Steve Goulding – drums, backing vocals[9]

The Rumour Brass
Ray Bevis – tenor saxophone
John Earle – tenor and baritone saxophone
Chris Gower – trombone
Dick Hanson – trumpet, flugelhorn

Australia (Kent Music Report) 22
United Kingdom (Official Charts Company) 14


1979


“Mercury Poisoning”

In February 1979, Graham Parker released “Mercury Poisoning,” a scything diatribe aimed at his former US label. Arista first issued the song as a US-only 12″ promo disc on dark gray vinyl. In the UK, Stiff Records issued “Mercury Poisoning” in a 200-copy run to members of the music press.


Squeezing Out Sparks

Graham Parker released his fourth studio album with The Rumour, Squeezing Out Sparks, in March 1979 on Vertigo and Arista.

1. “Discovering Japan” (3:32)
2. “Local Girls” (3:44)
3. “Nobody Hurts You” (3:42)
4. “You Can’t Be Too Strong” (3:21)
5. “Passion Is No Ordinary Word” (4:26)

6. “Saturday Nite Is Dead” (3:18)
7. “Love Gets You Twisted” (3:02)
8. “Protection” (3:54)
9. “Waiting for the UFO’s” (3:08)
10. “Don’t Get Excited” (3:04)

Studio Lansdowne Studios, London
Producer Jack Nitzsche

Graham Parker – lead vocals, rhythm guitar

The Rumour
Brinsley Schwarz – guitar, backing vocals
Martin Belmont – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Bob Andrews – keyboards, backing vocals
Steve Goulding – drums, backing vocals
Andrew Bodnar – bass

“Protection” / “Mercury Poisoning” “I Want You Back (Alive)”
Released: 23 February 1979 (UK)

“Discovering Japan” / “Local Girls”
Released: 4 May 1979 (UK)

“Local Girls” / “I Want You Back (Alive)”
Released: July 1979 (US)

In Norway, Vertigo lifted “Nobody Hurts You” (b/w “You Can´t Be Too Strong”)

Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)14
UK Albums (OCC) 18
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report) 22
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ) 31
US Billboard 200 40


1980


The Up Escalator

Graham Parker released his fifth studio album with The Rumour, The Up Escalator, on May 23, 1980, on Stiff and Arista.

1. “No Holding Back” (3:18)
2. “Devil’s Sidewalk” (3:14)
3. “Stupefaction” (3:30)
4. “Love Without Greed” (3:24)
5. “Jolie Jolie” (2:39)

6. “Endless Night” (3:35)
7. “Paralyzed” (3:13)
8. “Maneuvers” (3:28)
9. “Empty Lives” (5:06)
10. “The Beating of Another Heart” (4:20)

Producer Jimmy Iovine

Graham Parker – guitar, vocals
Bruce Springsteen – background vocals on “Endless Night”
Nicky Hopkins – acoustic piano
Jimmy Maelen – percussion
Martin Belmont – guitar
Danny Federici – organ
Steve Goulding – drums
Brinsley Schwarz – guitar, background vocals
Peter Wood – synthesizer
Andrew Bodnar – bass

April 25
A: Stupefaction
B. “Women In Charge

June 27
A: Love Without Greed
B: Mercury Poisoning

In Germany, Stiff lifted
A: “Endless Night”
B: “Mercury Poisoning”

Australia (Kent Music Report) 36
Canada 27
United Kingdom (Official Charts Company) 11
United States (Billboard 200) 40


1981–1983


Another Grey Area

Graham Parker released his sixth studio album, Another Grey Area, on March 15, 1982, on RCA and Arista.

1. “Temporary Beauty” (3:54)
2. “Another Grey Area” (3:01)
3. “No More Excuses” (4:31)
4. “Dark Side of the Bright Lights” (3:38)
5. “Can’t Waste a Minute” (3:30)
6. “Big Fat Zero” (2:47)

7. “You Hit the Spot” (3:31)
8. “It’s All Worth Nothing Alone” (4:05)
9. “Crying for Attention” (4:07)
10. “Thankless Task” (4:13)
11. “Fear Not” (3:30)

40th Anniversary Edition Bonus Tracks (2022, Iconoclassic Records)
Habit Worth Forming” (3:10)

Recorded Record Plant, New York City
Producer Jack Douglas, Graham Parker

Graham Parker – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Nicky Hopkins – acoustic piano
George Small – keyboards, ondioline
Hugh McCracken – electric guitars, harmonica
David Brown – electric guitars
Doug Stegmeyer – bass
Michael Braun – drums
Kurt McGettric – flute, baritone saxophone
Jim Clouse – saxophones
Paul Prestopino – banjo
Jack Douglas – percussion
Krystal Davis, Karen Lawrence, Eric Troyer, Fred Hostetler – backing Vocals

February 26
A: “Temporary Beauty”
B: “No More Excuses (Version)”


The Real Macaw

Graham Parker released his seventh studio album, The Real Macaw, in July 1983 on Arista.

1. “Just Like a Man
2. “You Can’t Take Love for Granted
3. “Glass Jaw
4. “Passive Resistance
5. “Sounds Like Chains
6. “Life Gets Better
7. “A Miracle a Minute
8. “Beyond a Joke
9. “Last Couple on the Dance Floor
10. “Anniversary
11. “(Too Late) The Smart Bomb

Producer David Kershenbaum
Phil Thornalley – Recording and Mixing Engineer
Recorded at Ramport Studio, Battersea
Mixed at Eel Pie Island Studio, Twickenham

Graham Parker – lead and backing vocals, “blue and hollow” guitars
Brinsley Schwarz – “Orange and black” guitars
George Small – keyboards
Kevin Jenkins – bass
Gilson Lavis – drums
Additional musicians
Sarah Larson – violin
Mel Collins – saxophone
Morris Pert – percussion
Andy Ebsworth – Linn drum programming


Discography:

  • Howlin’ Wind (1976)
  • Heat Treatment (1976)
  • Stick to Me (1977 • Graham Parker and the Rumour)
  • Squeezing Out Sparks (1979)
  • The Up Escalator (1980)
  • Another Grey Area (1982)
  • The Real Macaw (1983)
  • Steady Nerves (1985 • Graham Parker and The Shot)
  • The Mona Lisa’s Sister (1988)
  • Human Soul (1989)
  • Struck by Lightning (1991)

Sources:

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