Thursday, 11 February 2016

"Heat Treatment" by GRAHAM PARKER and THE RUMOUR (2001 Mercury 'Expanded' CD Reissue Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...The Flame Is Burning..."

Graham Parker's blistering and caustic debut album "Howlin Wind" caused a stir in music newspapers of the time (April 1976, Vertigo Records). Peopled by increasingly disillusioned lovers of music bored with singles-driven chart-dreck and bombastic side long Prog Rock - "Howlin Wind" was lean and mean and full of hummable tunes – albeit with emotional razor blades in their hooks. The choppy edge of HW even predated the advent of gobby Punk and New Wave by a few months (stylistically too). But despite two decent 7" singles released in support of the critically acclaimed British album – the public seemed not to notice or even care...

Time to try again double quick. So in only October of that musically volatile year (six months after the debut) – Vertigo popped out blinder number two – "Heat Treatment". It featured more tales of boozy anguish in hotel rooms with frisky chambermaids and a search the world over (well mostly in Dagenham) for that special lady. Just as good as the first platter (but perhaps not as immediate) – this superb 2001 CD Remaster seems determined to get us to finally sit up and take notice. And I for one am listening. Here are the Heat Treatments...

UK released July 2001 – "Heat Treatment" by GRAHAM PARKER and THE RUMOUR on Mercury 548 682-2 (Barcode 0731454868228) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with two Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (41:41 minutes):

1. Heat Treatment
2. That's What They All Say
3. Turned Up Too Late
4. Black Honey
5. Hotel Chambermaid
6. Pourin' It All Out [Side 2]
7. Back Door Love
8. Something You're Going Through
9. Help Me Shake It
10. Fool's Gold
Tracks 1 to 10 are his second LP "Heat Treatment" – released October 1976 in the UK on Vertigo 6360 137 and in the USA on Mercury SRM-1 1095

11. Hold Back The Night
12. (Let Me Get) Sweet On You
Tracks 11 and 12 make up Side 1 of a 4-track Extended Play - "The Pink Parker – Hold Back The Night" EP released March 1977 in the UK on Vertigo PARK 001 (A1 and A2). The other two tracks on the B-side were "White Honey" and "Soul Shoes" - both of which were on the preceding "Howlin Wind" album. "Hold Back The Night" is a cover of a TRAMMPS US Soul hit originally on Buddah Records in February 1976 – the other songs are Graham Parker originals with both "Hold Back The Night" and "(Let Me Get) Sweet On You" being exclusive to the EP.

GRAHAM PARKER – Lead Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitars
BRINSLEY SCHWARZ – Guitar and Backing Vocals
BOB ANDREWS – Keyboards and Backing Vocals
MARTIN BELMONT – Guitar and Backing Vocals
STEPHEN GOULDING – Drums and Backing Vocals

JOHN EARLE – Saxophones
DANNY ELLIS – Trombone
ALBY DONNELLY – Saxophones

The '25th Anniversary Reissues' sticker on the CD jewel case promises 'Bonus Tracks, New Sleeve Notes & Expanded Artwork'. Once you open the decidedly skimpy three-way foldout inlay – you know that Universal has gone all ASDA budget range on our Graham. There are new paragraphs from the great man alongside some history of the album by NIGEL WILLIAMSON and two single sides as you can see above (they picture "The Pink Parker" EP back and front too). It's good but hardly great – and surely there were outtakes to be had after all these years? But all that budget-priced gripe goes out the boozer window when you hear the muscle and clarity of the Remaster by GARY MOORE...

Like its predecessor "Howlin Wind” there are tracks on "Heat Treatment" that have been in need of a bit of 'oomph' – the bopping title song "Heat Treatment" for starters, the sideways-swipe love song "Hotel Chambermaid" and the magnificent mini-epic longing of "Black Honey" with its superb guitar solo – all  jump to mind. But after a run-through of the whole album -  you’d have to say that the Audio improvement is 'all over'.

The brass and guitar punch of "Heat Treatment" is immediate now – "...the flame is burning..." lyrics rattling your speakers with a punk-in-a-bedsit attitude. His best Elvis Costello sneer pops up for the 'you're a fool' observation that is "That's What They All Say" - sounding really fantastic too. The keyboards, guitars and subtle backing vocals of "Turned Up Too Late" sound incredible – so clear. I've always thought the hurting "Black Honey" one of the album's hidden gems. Just when you were ready to dismiss GP as a bit of a smartarse - he pulls out a song like this that genuinely 'gets to you'. He saunters dangerously close to sentimentality (for him) in "Pourin' It All Out" where he threatens to let go of his emotions and vocal chords - but doesn't. "Back Door" is another song of longing – "..dodged all the turnpikes..." he waxes lyrical about his baby - telling us that she tunes up his Bass and Treble whenever he meets her (nice). "Something You're Going Through" feels like Joe Jackson only two years earlier – that jagged rhythm sounding so "Look Sharp!" Parker then tells us that he's been frettin' and sweatin' and we worry that it's more girl problems in "Help Me Shake It" – while "Fool's Gold" confirms that his search is both ongoing and intensely frustrating (a great song on which to end the album).

In his typically self-deprecating liner notes - Graham Parker reckons that aside from 'a few clunkers' – his 2nd platter "Heat Treatment" deserves reappraisal. Besides - he also reckons things picked up big time on vinyl outing No. 3 - "Stick To Me" in 1977.

The angry Petrol Pump Attendant turned Rock Star is right yet again...on both counts...

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is CLASSIC 1970s ROCK - an E-Book with over 245 entries and 2100 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

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