Record Review - 3 October 10 2001

Once cocky but far from mellowed, rootsy English bard Graham Parker is arguably the missing link between the soulful R&B-infused white-boy singer/songwriters of the '60s and the angry young men who helped propel the more articulate side of punk and new wave a decade later. Emerging at the start of 1976 backed by pub-rock veterans the Rumour, Parker had style, sarcasm, and more than a little substance. He was more than a year ahead of Elvis Costello (with whom he shared producer Nick Lowe), but just as talented at making indignation, bitterness and pessimism palatable — if not downright enjoyable.

Deepcut to Nowhere recalls some of the passion and feel of Parker's early albums, helped along by his own crisp guitars, the rock-solid bass of Pete Donnelly (of the Figgs), and the welcome return of Rumour drummer Steve Goulding after a two-decade absence. Parker's rough-edged vocals have improved over the years, and it's a pleasure to hear him front an electric band again. He still snarls with the best of them when the humor takes him — with odd hints of a younger Van Morrison — but he can also purr like a latter-day Sam Cooke.

The opening "Dark Days" seems particularly relevant in view of recent attacks on the U.S., and "Syphilis & Religion (two things you could probably do without)" also resonates in unexpected ways. There is tenderness too ("Depend on Me"), though some paeans to domesticity ("Tough on Clothes") seem like throwaways. Maybe he'll explain the origins of the feisty but cryptic "I'll Never Play Jacksonville Again" at his upcoming Atlanta appearance.

Graham Parker plays with the Figgs Sat., Oct. 13, at the Variety Playhouse.??