Americanization. Some celebrate it; others merely succumb to it. Nevertheless, it has become a reality for any British band aspiring to super-stardom.
Stick To Me, Graham Parker's third album, represents his bow to America. In a bid to gain wider acceptance, Parker has shed the raw, traditional rhythm and blues stance that characterized his previous albums. Replacing it is a more streamlined and soulful Philadelphia R&B sound.
Though The Rumour play extremely well the pervasive gloss of David Bedford's horn arrangements and Nick Lowe's production leave them sounding anonymous and somewhat punchless. At times, only Parker's vocal mannerisms save the disc from becoming FM wallpaper.
On Stick To Me, Parker is less the cynical malcontent of albums past and more a free-wheeling party-goer with an insatiable thirst for action. Unfortunately, this attitude doesn't translate into a wealth of interesting material. The songs often appear superficial, thin landscapes for catchy hook lines. Where Parker once employed cliché, now he occasionally becomes it.
Stick To Me isn't a bad album. It is, however, a disappointing follow-up to the excellent Heat Treatment.
Like Parker's debut album, Howlin' Wind, Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True is a time-warp white rhythm and blues album produced by Nick Lowe. The disc is alive, it bounces and rocks the way rock 'n' roll is supposed to.
Lyrically, Costello is sometimes obtuse and esoteric, but always compelling. He's an eccentric who writes songs of guilt and frustration. Resignation is his natural romantic posture.
My Aim Is True is its own best advertisement. Hear it.