Monday, 4 June 2018
Graham Parker - The Up Escalator (1980)
Released May 1980
1. No Holding Back
2. Devil's Sidewalk
4. Love Without Greed
5. Jolie Jolie
6. Endless Night
9. Empty Lives
10. The Beating of Another Heart
By 1980, Graham Parker's 1975-76 thunder had been stolen, somewhat unfortunately, by Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson. Why, there were also "new wave" groups like The Jags who were clearly influenced by an artist who was the unsung original pioneer of the new wave. Parker had the respect of the cognoscenti, however, and also from within the industry, including Bruce Springsteen, who features on his song, "Endless Night" on here. The Cars, also, I would argue, were influenced by Parker.
This is a great album of new wave rock - tuneful songs, a sneering delivery of cynical lyrics, a hint of white reggae every now and then and r'n'b pub rock.
The album starts strongly with the storming "No Holding Back", the bluesy and catchy "Devil's Sidewalk", the rocking "Stupefaction" and then the Joe Jackson meets early P.I.L. meets Department S rock/reggae tinges of "Empty Lives". A classic Parker song. Then the old ""side one" ends with a magnificent Parker heartbreaker of a street tough ballad in "The Beating Of Another Heart". Best track on the album. How material like this got largely overlooked at the time, and now, is beyond me. The Boomtown Rats and Blondie, however, had number one hits. No justice. Nothing against those artists, both of whom I like, but Parker deserved as much success for songs like this. Close my eyes and its 1980 again.
The old "side two" starts with Graham duetting with Springsteen on the latter's "Endless Night", a rocker that was probably a reject from his "The River" album from the same year. "Paralysed" is another upbeat, soulful piece of new wave rock in the same vein as the rest of the album. Back in 1980 I always played "side one" more than "side two", which was a shame because there some equally good stuff on there, such as the quirky, rhythmic "Manoeuvres" and the "River-era Springsteenesque "Jolie Jolie". "Love Without Greed" ends this excellent album in similar fashion.The bonus tracks - "Women In Charge" may as well have been originally included on the album to be honest and there is also a reggae-influenced live (but a bit crackly) version of "Don't Ask Me Questions", a track from a few years earlier.
The sound quality on this remaster is excellent. Big and punchy. A highly recommended album.