.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/65a697728b6cc55f22eb068ed9b38c0fc5e35e0d.jpg The Real Macaw

Graham Parker

The Real Macaw

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
September 15, 1983

Just because Graham Parker has become a most happy fella doesn't mean he's a wimp. The joys of marital life have taken some of the snarl out of Parker's prickly world view, but they haven't taken the bite out of his music. The Real Macaw, a propulsive, brilliantly sung LP, features some of this British singer's best work since 1979's awesome Squeezing Out Sparks.

Parker's rage now seems focused on his former failings, as in the torrid "Just Like a Man." This two-and-a-half-minute tour de force showcases George Small's wailing organ, ex-Squeeze skins slammer Gilson Lavis' solid drum work and Parker's impassioned antimacho sentiment: "Just like a man/Dragging her down for everything he'll never be." Yet that cut's chorus includes a relentless cry of "Forgive him," and throughout The Real Macaw, Parker tempers his admonishments with an almost paternal tone. "Well, it's a shame what they do to these young kids/Just encourage them to act like clowns," Parker ruminates in the exultant "Life Gets Better," and on that track, as on the tender "Anniversary," the angry young man of the late Seventies sounds positively giddy with amour.

Rapturous though he be, Parker is much too sharp-eyed to get swoony. His voice, still one of rock & roll's marvels, consistently saves The Real Macaw from the quicksand of sentimentality. The sheer emotional desperation he can pack into a phrase like "I need you to ... live with me" shows that he has not reached his current euphoric state without some struggle. And on "Glass Jaw," there is a fusion of the singer's penchant for physical metaphor and his own astonishment at being so darned happy: "You turn stone into flesh, baby/And I almost get human," he notes, practically smacking his forehead with surprise. "I even grin when you're with me." I hope he keeps smiling.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Try a Little Tenderness”

    Otis Redding | 1966

    This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com