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Graham Parker and the Rumour

Live in San Francisco 1979

Review by Gary Hill

Punk rock is a weird beast. A lot of music got lumped in there – and some of it fits and some doesn’t really. For one thing, a lot of punk rock was about earning your credibility by proving that you couldn’t really play. Well, for that reason alone, this band wasn’t punk. They definitely had punk rock leanings, though, but showed that they had way too many chops to truly be punk. The music is very much along the lines of Elvis Costello and this live disc is a great one. It never seems to drag or suffer from too much similarity. I like it a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Discovering Japan

They waste no time launching into things. This is definitely a cut that feels a lot like the kind of thing Elvis Costello did. It's a cool rocker.

Local Girls
A bit more of a raw punk element pervades this one, but yet the chorus is catchy and not that far off from the first number.
Thunder and Rain
Although the general format hasn’t changed much, this is a more complex number than the ones we’ve heard so far. To my ear it’s also meatier. I like this a lot. 
Don't Get Excited
This one’s a bit more stripped down and just feels meaner. It’s a good number. 
Back to School Days
Here we have a number that’s very much in keeping with the sounds of Chuck Berry. 
Passion is No Ordinary Word
This really feels like an early Elvis Costello type of track. This turns out into more hard rocking territory for the instrumental section, though. 
Mercury Poisoning
Here we get a number that’s more pure punk – but still Graham Parker styled. 
Heat Treatment
This one’s far more in an old time rock and roll motif. There’s a harmonica solo on this track. 
Stick to Me
They start it off here with a texture that feels almost progressive rock oriented. From there, though, we launch out into more music that’s keeping with the sounds of Elvis Costello. Still, there are some other sections that almost feel like prog rock and we get a little reggae in the mix, too. This is actually quite a complex piece and one of the more interesting ones on show here. 
You Can't Be Too Strong
A balladic cut, this one feels a lot like something we’d hear from Elvis Costello. 
Love Gets You Twisted
This one is a slow track that would also qualify as a ballad, but it’s a bit harder rocking than the last one. 
Clear Head
We’re back into the hard rocking zone with this punky rocker. The funny thing is, some of the guitar work on here reminds me a little of The Marshall Tucker Band or the Allman Brothers. 
Hey Lord, Don't Ask Me Questions
This one combines a reggae/jam band vibe with the type of sounds we’ve been hearing for the rest of the set. It’s a killer tune and one of the highlights. There’s also a rather prog-like jam mid-track. 
Saturday Night is Dead
There’s a bit of a reggae element to this, but it’s definitely closer to the music that makes up the bulk of the set than the previous piece was. There’s some killer guitar soloing here. 
Nobody Hurts You
Not all that different from the rest of the music here, this somehow works better than some of the rest. 
Take a standard Graham Parker sound and mix it with both reggae and Bob Dylan. Now you can imagine this piece. It rocks out quite hard and well later on. 
Soul Shoes
A raw rock and roll meets punk jam, this is OK, but not overly special.
I Want You Back
This feels like Motown – and in fact, I could swear it’s a cover of something from The Jackson 5 or another Motown outfit. It’s definitely done with a Graham Parker feeling to it, though. 
Pouring It All Out
Here we get a killer rocker. It’s hard edged, energized and fun.
New York Shuffle

With more of a rock and roll element this is a good cut, but perhaps not a real standout.

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