Howlin' Wind

Not Rated

On his first album, Graham Parker draws unabashedly from some of the most powerful stylistic devices of Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. While he sometimes goes too far, Parker is justified time and again by the Rumour's exciting approach.

Led by veteran pub rocker Brinsley Schwarz, the group includes Bob Andrews, keyboard player in the group which bore Schwarz's name, and guitarist Martin Belmont of the late Ducks Deluxe. They support Parker with raw efficiency in a variety of settings, skirting the edge of imitation. There's an endearing sloppiness to "Silly Thing" which is reinforced by Parker's infectious drawl and the swinging, punching horns. Similarly, "Back to Schooldays," a rough R&B tune, has a spontaneous, one-take freshness similar to Dr. Feelgood's.

The entire album was written by Parker, and although the directness of the playing and arranging makes it all worthwhile, the album owes its success to Parker's ability to ally a compelling melody with an arrangement that strengthens the hook and lyrics that more than hold their own. (Describing "Lady Doctor" he says, "She won't give you no jargon, no medical how-do-you-do.") When everything comes together, as it does on the final cut, "Don't Ask Me Questions," neither Parker's well-rounded skills nor his vocal expressiveness can be disputed.