Your mileage might vary when it comes to Hotel Chambermaid, depending on how you read the randy rooster strut. If you’re cool with that sort of thing you’ll find it spirited and celebratory, but I’m inclined towards the shuffle button. Sexist throwaway for mine, and reminiscent of a certain French politician from a few years back.

On the other hand, Pourin' It All Out is an anthemic statement of what Parker’s all about, a mission statement if you like. 

And while Hotel Chambermaid, for mine, borders on the ugly, Back Door Love delivers a lighthearted strut that’s close to irresistible with a string of interesting rhymes at the start and stereo metaphors in the middle. 

Something You're Going Through, on the other hand, along with Help Me Shake It, is a little too close to by the numbers proceeding through the motions. Two that mightn’t have made the cut if Parker and company hadn’t been in such a hurry. Just about anything off Stick to Me would have been a perfectly acceptable substitute for either.

But there’s no questioning the quality of the album’s concluding number. The anthemic Fool's Gold has Parker vowing to keep searching for perfection. He’s probably talking about a woman or a relationship, but you can apply the theme and the lyric to almost any search you know to be  impossible, or likely to be regarded with a scratch of the head by friends and acquaintances..

The 2001 remastered reissue tacks two bonus tracks from The Pink Parker EP after Fool’s Gold, a spirited cover of the Trammps’ Hold Back the Night and Parker’s (Let Me Get) Sweet on You which swings enough to have slotted nicely onto the first album. Pleasant enough ways to pad out the length and persuade someone to shell out for the reissue, but a slight letdown after that magnificent closer.

Coming back to an old favourite after a long time doesn’t always work out the way it should, but here, having worked my way through Howlin’ Wind several times before progressing to the next, it’s obvious that advances had been made, both in terms of the writing, which has progressed towards what was to come later(Squeezing Out Sparks) and the playing, which I suspect, reflects a more collaborative approach between writer and band when it comes to arrangements. The sound is a lot fuller, and there’s a level of aggression that wasn’t there in Howlin’ Wind, which sounds subdued by comparison.

At this point Parker's still a relative novice at the songwriting caper, but there’s an increasing confidence that ties in with a degree of conviction that stood out like a beacon among the overblown likes of post-Atlantic Crossing Rod Stewart. He provided a template that was picked up and modified by the likes of Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson and, by the end of the second album, it’s close to fully formed.

There was, of course, still room for refinement.

© Ian Hughes 2012