Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Song of the Week 4/27/07

I never expected to see a great rock show in Washington, D.C. when I booked my bi-annual trip to see the Mets play the Nationals back in February. Yet that's exactly what I got last night at the Black Cat from Graham Parker and The Latest Clowns. Parker was supporting his fine new album Don't Tell Columbus with a star-studded lineup of Boston musicians assembled by The Figgs' Mike Gent...who played drums on Don't Tell Columbus and was filling the same slot on the tour.
(I must admit, I found it odd watching Gent behind the kit the entire time, having to be the steady beatmaster instead of the passionate lead guitarist when The Figgs have backed Parker over the years.)
Don't Tell Columbus doesn't rock as much as Songs of No Consequence, the album Parker did with the Figgs two years ago. It's more of a mid-tempo singer-songwriter affair, with a healthy dose of keyboards. With the new album in mind, Gent pulled together a fine roster of folks to bring Parker's tunes to life on this tour--Rudds guitarist Brett Rosenberg, The Gentlemen and Gravel Pit bassist extraordinaire Ed Valauskas and keyboardist Scott Janovitz. Besides the hand-picked musicians, I'm sure Gent had a little bit to do with the set that featured songs Parker hasn't played with a band in at least a decade. The keyboards allowed Parker to dip into the first album in his catalog I ever heard, 1985's Steady Nerves. "Wake Up (Next to You)" did indeed sound great (with a soaring guitar solo from Rosenberg aptly filling in for the recorded version's sax solo), but "Break Them Down" was easily the best song of the night. This tale about Christian missionaries imposing their will upon Central and South America (which seems like a thinly veiled jab at Reagan's mid-80s policy in the same areas) had slipped through my memory banks for many years until it came up one day while I was listening to the WOXY Vintage Channel. Sunday night the Latest Clowns flat out rocked this track, making me wish that the next release in Parker's official bootleg will be something from this oh too short tour.

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