60388-1 Steady Nerves
Produced by William Wittman and Graham Parker
Released on March 1985
US CHART POSITION #57
Find it at GEMM
60388-1 cover
[high resolution scan]
 

F rom the opening line, “The missionary’s position is clear...,” it’s steady as Graham goes through another sampler of smart wordplay and social dyspepsia. Targets this time are colonialism, the death penalty and a pill-popping culture, plus the usual fenced-in misery of our myopic existence. Strange then that the album’s single, “Wake Up (Next To You),” is a romantic number that begins by Parker announcing he has no complaints or objections with the world. The Real Macaw revealed the singer’s softer side, and from here on it wouldn’t be unusual to find an honest ballad mixed in with the barbed wire (“I’m Just Your Man,” “Wrapping Paper”). The mid 80s weren’t exactly a golden age for les enfants triobles of Elvis, Graham and JJ; Goodbye Cruel World and Big World were worlds removed from their best work. While Parker seems to want to turn the page on the past (on “Canned Laughter” he announces that “I can do without the rumor”), and coproducer William Wittman ably abets him with new sounds, there’s no getting away from Graham Parker’s caustic core appeal. Ironically, as a much-beloved muckraker, he’s only as good as the bad day he’s having. As Parker ages and continues to collect compliments from critical ranks, it becomes harder to dial up the disdain for a world gone sour and easier to see the sweetness of domestic bliss. Everyone deserves their patch of sunlight, Parker perhaps more than most, but it’s not what lights a fire under him. The whip-like wording of “Lunatic Fringe,” “Canned Laughter” and “Everyone’s Hand Is On The Switch” snaps at his command, and the rest of the record features a good mix of slow songs (“Locked Into Green”) and rockers (“Mighty Rivers”). It might be marginally better than The Real Macaw, but they’re both part of the middle-aged, soft paunch on a body of work that sounded better when it looked hungry.

TRACK LISTING

  1. BREAK THEM DOWN    4;32
  2. MIGHTY RIVERS    3:22
  3. LUNATIC FRINGE    3:15
  4. WAKE UP (NEXT TO YOU)    5:10
  5. WHEN YOU DO THAT TO ME    3:35
  6. THE WEEKEND'S TOO SHORT    4:06
  7. TAKE EVERYTHING    3:05
  8. BLACK LINCOLN CONTINENTAL    3:10
  9. CANNED LAUGHTER    2:25
  10. EVERYONE'S HAND IS ON THE SWITCH    3:26
  11. LOCKED INTO GREEN    2:27
  12. (CD bonus track:) TOO MUCH TIME TO THINK

    All songs written by Graham Parker

CREDITS

GRAHAM PARKER -- lead & backing vocals, rhythm guitar
MICHAEL BRAUN -- drums
KEVIN JENKINS -- bass
BRINSLEY SCHWARZ -- lead guitar, backing vocals
GEORGE SMALL -- keyboards
Lou Cortelezzi -- sax solo (4)
Huw Gower -- backing vocals
Jay Leonhart -- acoutsic bass (11)
Ralph Shuckett -- arrangement (11)
The Uptown Horns -- horns (11)
  Crispin Cioe -- baritone sax
  Bob Funk -- trombone
  Arno Hecht -- clarinet
  Hollywood Paul Litteral -- trumpet
William Wittman -- backing vocals
Carol Friedman -- art direction
Hubert Kretzschmar -- design
Bert Stern -- photography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK March 1985 Elektra LP KT-4  
US March 1985 Elektra LP/CDX/CS 60388  
AUSL 1985 Liberation LP LIB-5048  
CAN 1985 Elektra LP 96 03881  
GER 1985 Elektra LP/CDX 960 388  
JPN 1985 Warner LP P-13108  
US June 21, 2005 Wounded Bird CD 388 wo. bonus track

 

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