Thursday, 11 February 2016

"Howlin Wind" by GRAHAM PARKER (2001 Mercury 'Expanded' CD Reissue - Gary Moore Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Put Them Right..."

It's 1975 and a young Graham Parker is bored to distraction feeding go-go juice to gas guzzlers on the forecourt of a London Petrol Station. He puts the smelly grubby nozzle back in its equally scuzzy slot for the last time, toddles off home, pens a few caustic tunes in his bedsit about love, drugs and emotional insanity - then sets off to gain instant fame and fortune (well fame anyway).

Like so many Rock Kids of a certain age who remember the advent of Punk and New Wave (and welcomed much of it) – it's always struck me as odd that genuine musical talent like say Nick Lowe and Graham Parker weren't and aren't utterly huge? I mean where’s the statue citizens of Chobham in Surrey for your musical son – eh?. I can remember when Parker's albums were simply three and four-pound fodder in every secondhand shop. Well maybe the 2001 Remasters of his blistering 70ts catalogue can put pay to that short sightedness for good because his 1976 debut is a total winner you need in your life. Here are the Soul Shoes in your face (please don't let the Fuzz in)...

UK released July 2001 – "Howlin Wind" by GRAHAM PARKER on Mercury 548 667-2 (Barcode 731454866729) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with one Bonus Track and plays out as follows (45:11 minutes):

1. White Honey
2. Nothing's Gonna Pull Us Apart
3. Silly Thing
4. Gypsy Blood
5. Between You And Me
6. Back To Schooldays
7. Soul Shoes [Side 2]
8. Lady Doctor
9. You've Got To Be Kidding
10. Howlin' Wind
11. Not if It Pleases Me
12. Don't Ask Me No Questions
Tracks 1 to 12 are his debut LP "Howlin Wind" – released April 1976 in the UK on Vertigo 6360 129 and in the USA on Mercury SRM-1 1095

13. I’m Gonna Use It Now – non-album B-side of "Silly Thing" issued as his debut UK 7” single in March 1976 on Mercury 6059 135

GRAHAM PARKER – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar and Rhythm Guitar on "Howlin' Wind"

BRINSLEY SCHWARZ – Guitar, Hammond Organ, Tenor Saxes and Backing Vocals
BOB ANDREWS – Lowrey And Hammond Organ, Piano and backing Vocals
MARTIN BELMONT – Guitar and backing Vocals
STEVE GOULDING – Drums and backing Vocals

ED DEAN – Slide Guitar on "Soul Shoes"
DAVE EDMUNDS – Rockabilly Guitar on "Back To Schooldays"
NOEL BROWN – Dobro Guitar on "Not If It Pleases Me" and Slide Guitar on "Back To Schooldays"
STEWART LYNAS – Alto Sax on "Lady Doctor" and Arranged All Brass
DAVE CONNERS – First Tenor Sax
DANNY ELLIS – Trombone

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 one lone bonus track as you can see above. 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... 

There are tracks on "Howlin Wind" that have needed a bit of 'oomph' for years – "Soul Shoes", "Back To Schooldays" and the sadly lovely "Between Me And You" jump to mind. But the improvement is all over. The brilliant build of instruments in the acidic "Not If It Pleases Me" comes at you with incredible power (a forgotten nugget methinks). The perky opener "White Honey" sounds really fantastic (for a song about cocaine that is) and should have been the album's lead-off single instead of Vertigo's choice of the weaker but safer "Silly Thing". The acoustic beginning to "Gypsy Blood" is warm to these tired lugs and when the Rumour do kick in – the whole soundstage has real power without being overly bombastic (gorgeous acoustic playing in this song by Parker). I'm jumping around the room like a snotty brat with a day pass to Rowntrees as the brilliant and rebellious bopper "Back To Schooldays" fills my room – Dave Edmunds giving it some wicked Rockabilly Guitar just when the song needs it. Parker's vocals naturally suit the choppy-angry New Wave rhythms of "Don't Ask Me Questions" – but then like all great songwriters – he floors you with real emotion and pathos. Disguised behind the almost sing-along Eagles rhythm of "Between You And Me" is a razor blade – a song about love and bitter loss. I’ve loved this poison-berry of a melody for four decades now and like much of this brilliant album – still feels fresh and vital in 2016.

In his typically self-deprecating liner notes - Graham Parker reckons that his "Howlin Wind" LP 'was the best album released in the UK in 1976' outside of all that commercial singles chart fodder. On the evidence presented here – the angry Pump Attendant may indeed have a point. Brilliant...

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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