by Rob O'Connor
Subtitled "Spare Tracks and Lost Demos" and available only through the Razor & Tie Web site, Loose Monkeys is intended for only the most devoted GP fans. Except that after surviving six major labels, Graham Parker only has devoted fans. Success or not, Parkers always been an acerbic writer with a thin, soulful voice that either sounds pissed off or constipated.
The first three tracks on Monkeys come from solid demos Parker recorded with old Rumour compatriots Brinsley Schwarz and Andrew Bodnar for an album for Atlantic that never made it past the demo stage. Later demos from 1985 featuring just Parker, a guitar and whatever else he felt like adding, are a mixed affair. "Dead to the World" features a killer Parker melody, but "Hormone of Love" is typical of Parkers weakest work. Words take center stage but the tune is sent home early. "Natalie," however, is a minor masterwork made for a roughshod collection such as this. Its Parkers song to his daughter and expresses the simple unself-conscious joy the new father feels. As a track on a "serious" album, it would seem slight. But here among other unkempt partners, its like adventurous eavesdropping. Which is what this collection is meant to be.