Squeezing Out Sparks


Quake Records is proud to present a new edition of Graham Parker’s classic album Squeezing Out Sparks. This newly remastered edition features a new cover design, as well as never before released bonus tracks recorded live at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle in 1979.

In the words of Graham Parker:

As usual, the choice of producer was less than well considered, “Who the hell should I hire for this thing?” was pretty much the sum of it, and typically, with no actual face to face meeting beforehand. What I did know for sure was that I’d written a bunch of songs that seemed distant from the influences of “Howlin’ Wind.”

I couldn’t hear any horn section for one thing. I couldn’t hear so much as a nod towards the R&B/soul and blues values I’d been employing since that first album either, making the approach I should take a bit of a mystery. But I did feel like a band performance and production style change was needed to suit these new songs, probably influenced by the minimal approach of punk and this hastily conceived ‘new wave’ term that had finally hit the high street late in ‘77 along with the release of the Sex Pistols record. To me, these acts were a long way from what we were doing. Our music was deliberately dense. What punk or new wave acts used two keyboards (organ and piano) three guitars (one acoustic and two electrics), and often layered backing vocals that were actually in tune - and in the case of “Stick To Me” a string section conducted by none other than David Bedford? What we did was the complete opposite musically from both of these alleged genres.

Not wanting to fall into a sudden graveyard labelled “banger old pub rock R&B bollocks,” I definitely felt a need to thin things out a bit; a mercenary tactic no doubt, but the idea began to interest me.

Jack Nitzsche was a name I recalled from the odd reference on early Stones EP's and Neil Young’s “Harvest,” and there he was again popping up in the guise of producer of a Mink de Ville record I’d recently heard a few times on radio called “Spanish Stroll.” Apparently, this track was deemed a new wave record by people who knew what the term meant, so with no other thought than that, my manager got hold of Nitzsche and he agreed to the job. Once I got to know him I found out that he’d played tambourine on “Satisfaction” and arranged classic hits for Phil Spector.

The rest of what followed I’ve documented in the past in various outlets, but seeing as it took about 11 days to record, not much happened at all I suppose. But still, Nitzsche made a strong impression on "Squeezing Out Sparks" without doubt. He knew, for instance, that although I had written "Can't Be Too Strong" (the actual title: someone added the word "You" in post) in a jaunty country rhythm that to record it in that way would be a total cop out and got me to slow it to a crawl and sing it like it meant something. He also knew that the band were playing to their own skills, but not playing the songs. He was not impressed with this attitude. Once he’d clarified his position (that the songs were the important part of this, not the musicianship) things happened quickly, as they often do when the excess is swept aside, and the album made itself.

As far as promoting the record on the road, I can only recall playing the entire album once live, at New York’s Copa Cabana, which was recorded and released as “Live Sparks.” The addition of this Seattle recording that John Howells has added here shows that we were pretty hot live, and this recording illustrates that very well.


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This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 13 December, 2017.

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