And More...

There’s a bit more intensity to You've Got to Be Kidding, a sort of half an hour later riposte to Nothin's Gonna Pull Us Apart, a cynical response to a question about longevity in a relationship delivered in a Dylanesque drawl. Howlin' Wind bristles with impassioned intent and Not If It Pleases Me is three more minutes of the same.

But the album’s highlight arrives with the reggae groove of Don't Ask Me Questions. There are reggae influences elsewhere on the album, but here they come to the fore as Parker makes it perfectly clear that he’s not the one with the answers. As a closing track to a rather good album (Parker’s quite definite about it being the best album released in Britain in 1976 in the liner notes), it’s almost perfect. He revisited it a bit later on The Parkerilla, and that version, with the benefit of a couple of years road exposure is probably better, but the prototype packs plenty of punch.

Tacking the obligatory bonus track on the end diminishes that final punch slightly. You can see why I'm Gonna Use It Now missed the cut the first time around, but there’s still commitment aplenty on display.

As an announcement of a significant talent, Howlin’ Wind delivers the goods and most of the cuts survived in the live setting, even after newer material turned up. Parker’s still not, at this point, fully formed, and not quite as angry or dismissive of fools as he became later, but it would be unreasonable to expect anything more than this from someone who was still, at this point, sorting out the nuts and bolts of his craft.

Nick Lowe’s production delivers a tough, spare bar band feeling and the result is an invigorating fusion of traditional rock from a writer with significant singer/songwriter chops, and something that would be identified around a year down the track as punk spirit.

One of the classic debuts of all time that manages to shine while suggesting significant room for improvement as a brash young man gets his direction sorted.

© Ian Hughes 2012