Picks and Pans Review: Another Grey Area

UPDATED 05/03/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/03/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT

Graham Parker

Graham Parker has produced two certifiable masterpieces—his 1976 debut, Howlin' Wind, which melted Van Morrison and Dylan influences in a reggae-rock crucible, and his 1979 fifth album, Squeezing Out Sparks, which cut with an anger as dazzling and focused as a blowtorch flame. These won him a devoted following that has kept asking, "So when is Graham going to make it big?" Graham has remained in the shadows because his albums haven't been quite as consistent as Elvis Costello's, his musical first cousin, and because he's too arrogant and bitter to achieve a wide appeal. But he has a distinctive voice and an arresting stance that's summed up in a line from this new LP: "I'd rather burn than singe." There are more love songs here than on earlier albums, a sign that Parker may be bidding for commercial acceptance. If he finally gets it because of songs like Temporary Beauty, No More Excuses and Can't Waste a Minute, though, nobody can accuse him of unduly compromising his intensity.

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