I don’t know how this happened, but somehow I made it 41 years without ever listening to Graham Parker. I had a friend in Tucson who was into Parker, but I didn’t know this friend very long and moved before I listened to any of his records. Today I was flipping through the “P” bin at the store and came across this live solo album. I’m a sucker for records like this: electric guitar + voice + nothing else — think Billy Bragg and Warren Zevon. So this looked right up my alley. I’m writing as side one is finishing, and I really dig it.
One of the essential psychedelic rock masterpieces. You must hear this record.
Sure, I’ve heard the hits, and I was married for years to a big Hall & Oates fan. I also like Hall’s work on Robert Fripp’s album Exposure. But this album was a revelation. Cleverly crafted pop songs with gorgeous production values. You’ll know at least one song — the hit “She’s Gone.” This record is the perfect music for a summer afternoon in 1973, the year both it and I were released. And it sounds pretty darned good now, too.
I can’t pretend to an extensive knowledge of classical music in general or Brahms in particular. All I can say is that this is wonderfully soft and lush and gorgeous and rich. I’ve played it two days in a row at the store and people keep coming over to ask about it.
Take one of the great musical groups of, well, ever. Add arrangements by Allen Toussaint, one of the best arrangers ever to put pen to paper. Throw in a live concert environment. Stir. You’ve got a fabulous live album. This is The Band doing what they did best: playing deep, soulful rock music.
Confession: I’m not much of a Laura Nyro fan. Everybody likes what they like, and she’s never particularly appealed to me. When I heard this album a couple weeks back, though, I looked at her in a new light. Nyro is joined on Gonna Take A Miracle by Labelle, and that makes all the difference. Her voice sounds strong and assured in this soul setting, and Labelle really ties the room together. Lots of Motown classics on this album, too, and you just can’t go wrong with the team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.