Rhythm & Views

Graham Parker

Flying largely under the radar since his heyday as a critical favorite and public figure in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Graham Parker has managed to release a remarkable 29 records since his debut in 1976--averaging exactly one a year. Long valued as one of rock music's most caustic wits and literate wordsmiths, Parker has lost little of his brittle edge and has picked up quite a bit of worldliness along the way.

On Songs of No Consequence, he is backed up by four-piece combo the Figgs, which is generally--but not exclusively--a good thing. The band cranks out a jumpy, perfectly serviceable--but a bit anonymous--blend of soul, blues and country inflected rock. It's all very fine but sounds a bit undercooked, perhaps due to the nine days they had to lay down the 12 tracks. But the best songs really nail it and stick in your ear: "Suck 'n' Blow," "There's Nothing on the Radio," "Local Boys," "Chloroform" and "Did Everybody Just Get Old?" deliver the catchy hooks and pointed social critiques that have been Parker's singular calling card for three decades now.

Given a bit more production and a bit more push from below--or maybe the services of a truly stellar band like the Sadies or his original band the Rumour--and Graham Parker could easily have a shot at the crown for Angry Middle-Aged Man.