Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another Perfect Record by Allen Vella

Today I rediscovered something I've always known yet often slips away into the routine of life in the big city. Music heals all wounds. Rapidly and profoundly. Everyone with an iPod has their "iPod Subway Stories." Mine involves Graham Parker's masterpiece "Squeezing Out Sparks." It started with "shuffle," but after three minutes, I gave the entire album a whirl as I made my way into Manhattan, feeling kinda lousy.

From the twisted travelogue love song "Discovering Japan" to the sad but snarky "Local Girls," to "Nobody Hurts You," a study in disillusionment with a most-killer guitar riff, right on through "You Can't Be Too Strong," the achingly beautiful classic about the not-often sung about subject, abortion, Parker and the muscular sounds of the Rumour were at their peak.

I'll admit, "Waiting for the UFOs" would've been better has a b-side, but otherwise, "Squeezing Out Sparks" is one of the most solid collection of songs ever assembled. "Saturday Night is Dead" rocks about the emptiness of a drunken pub night while the utter reality of "Love Gets You Twisted" is something we've all experienced. We all hear songs differently, but I'm quite sure that most agreed in 1978, this is a band in top form.

Listening to a record like this reaffirms all my beliefs in the magic and mystery of rock 'n' roll. It's one of the many reasons I can't stop listening, why I can't stop searching for the next perfect song or the next must see band. The rest of my day was awesome…even as the doctor jabbed a two inch spike into my torn rotator cuff!

Allen Vella-


steve simels said...

I saw them do the "Sparks" album from stem to stern at a small club show back in the day (can't remember where, though). It was to die for.

If memory serves, the Arista reissue of "Sparks" is now fleshed out with a live radio broadcast where they do the entire album.

laura said...

i think that is one of the most completely genius albums of all. I still pull "you can't be too strong" on the acoustic whenever I"m in a pensative place.
We had many cool moments listening toghether, no? xoxo lv

Michael in New York said...

I have no iPod in the Subway story. What's wrong with me?

Michael in New York said...

Oh, wait. I do -- seriously, I wrote that and then remembered. I was listening to Brian Eno's Another Green World for the very first time and of course the music is abstract and open-ended but it was as if the entire world was collaborating with the album -- the movement of the train, the people I would see, even subway ad posters all seemed perfectly timed to complement and reference the music I was listening to. Truly a trippy moment of synchronicity.