[Review] Graham Parker and the Rumour: Stick to Me (1977)

An early critical darling, the bloom was off the rose for Parker and the Rumour.

Kronomyth 3.0: Stuck for an encore.

In my world, the future of rock never depended on Graham Parker. He was just another brilliant smartass with an outmoded allegiance to old school rock & roll and a backing band hot enough to melt butter. Sure, he may have sounded like a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello at times, but guys like Parker lead star-crossed lives, not revolutions. So when it came time for number 3 and a freak accident forced the band to re-record the album at the last minute, you couldn’t call it unexpected (yeah, EC rules).

Stick To Me comes out swinging, but the knockout blow that many were waiting for never arrives. It’s ten rounds of raucous, rancorous rock and roll, some of which will have you swooning (Problem Child, Watch the Moon Come Down), but mostly this is Parker pulling his punches. Nick Lowe probably wasn’t the most sympathetic producer at this point; This Year’s Model and Jesus/Pure Pop sounded similarly rushed and crowded.

These days, the damning disappointment of Rolling Stone’s Dave Marsh (previously a big Parker booster) is buried by the dust of time and coated by a thin layer of latter-day accolades from Internet pundits who don’t know any better but to lump all of Graham’s early stuff together. Stick To Me could have been a classic record, should have been, really, since you don’t get a second chance to make a third impression. Instead, it’s a growl where a roar was required, the first in a series of faux paws that proved Parker was more of a lone wolf than a leader of the pack.

Original elpee version

A1. Stick to Me (3:27)
A2. I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down (Earl Randle) (3:26)
A3. Problem Child (3:26)
A4. Soul on Ice (3:00)
A5. Clear Head (2:56)
B1. The New York Shuffle (2:57)
B2. Watch the Moon Come Down (4:52)
B3. Thunder and Rain (3:14)
B4. The Heat in Harlem (6:57)
B5. The Raid (2:29)

All songs written by Graham Parker unless noted.

The Players

Graham Parker (vocals and guitars), Bob Andrews (piano, organs and backing vocals, brass arrangements), Martin Belmont (guitars), Andrew Bodnar (bass), Steve Goulding (drums and backing vocals), Brinsley Schwarz (guitars and backing vocals) with John Altman (baritone sax), David Bedford (string arrangements), John Earle (tenor sax), Mountain Fjord (Martin Ford) (strings), Chris Gower (trombone), Dick Hanson (trumpet). Produced by Nick Lowe; executive producers: Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera; engineered and re-mixed by Roger Bechirian.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track in October 1977* in the UK (Vertigo, 9102 017), the US (Mercury, SRM/MCR-4/MC-8-1-3706), Australia and New Zealand (Vertigo, 6360 153) and Japan (Vertigo, RJ-7298) with stickers. Reached #19 on the UK charts and #125 on the US charts. (*First appeared in 10/9/77 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in the US (Mercury, 824 808).
  2. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 2001 in the UK (Mercury, 548 680).
  3. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2007 in Japan (Universal, UICY-93380).

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