Squeezing Out Sparks

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Squeezing Out Sparks
Studio album by Graham Parker
Released March 1979
Recorded Lansdowne Studios, London
Genre Rock
Length 37:18
Label USA Arista
UK Vertigo Records
USA Mercury
Producer Jack Nitzsche
Graham Parker chronology
The Parkerilla
Squeezing Out Sparks
The Up Escalator

Squeezing Out Sparks is a 1979 album by Graham Parker and the Rumour, their fourth official record. It was voted album of the year in the 1979 Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics Poll and later ranked number 335 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Although the Rumour were not credited on the cover, their name was included on the album label.

Music videos were made for "Local Girls" and "Protection", and the tracks "Discovering Japan" and "Passion is No Ordinary Word" received radio airplay. In addition, "You Can't Be Too Strong", an uncharacteristic somber acoustic guitar ballad, met with controversy over its subject matter and narrative: a man's reflections on his girlfriend's abortion.

Whereas his previous albums were notable for their strong soul influences, with many prominent tracks and singles including a horn section, on this LP producer Jack Nitzsche favored a rawer sound. Coincidentally, popular punk band The Clash were undergoing a reverse process, trying to expand their musical arrangements. Therefore, the Rumor's rhythm and blues session players went on to record all the horn parts in the Clash's third and praised record London Calling.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars [1]
Robert Christgau A [2]
Rolling Stone (Favorable) [3]
Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars [4]
Smash Hits 8/10[5]
Trouser Press (Very favorable) [6]

Squeezing Out Sparks was well received by critics although not as unreservedly as Howlin' Wind and Heat Treatment had been. Robert Christgau called it "[a]n amazing record" and gave it an A+ although he later downgraded it a half-step.[2] In Rolling Stone, Greil Marcus wrote that "[it] is no landmark" but did praise Parker for taking a risk and exposing himself in "a tale of true fear and drama".[3] Critical reception for the album was capped by its being voted album of the year in the 1979 Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.[7]

The album's critical reputation has grown since its release. Trouser Press called it "his toughest, leanest and most lyrically sophisticated LP"[6] while Allmusic cited it as "[his] finest album", "a masterful fusion of pub rock classicism, new wave pop, and pure vitriol".[1]

In 2003 Rolling Stone placed it at number 335 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,[8] an honour not accorded to his other albums.

Squeezing Out Sparks was reissued in the UK in 2001 on Vertigo/Mercury, with two bonus tracks. In addition, in 1996, Arista issued Squeezing Out Sparks + Live Sparks with the original ten tracks followed by live versions of the same songs, in the same order, plus "I Want You Back (Alive)" and "Mercury Poisoning" live. "Live Sparks" had originally been released only as a limited edition, promotional picture disc LP. Studio versions of "I Want You Back" (a Jackson 5 cover) and "Mercury Poisoning" were originally issued on a 45 rpm 7" single which was included with early copies of the album.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Graham Parker except as indicated.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Discovering Japan" – 3:32
  2. "Local Girls" – 3:44
  3. "Nobody Hurts You" – 3:42
  4. "You Can't Be Too Strong" – 3:21
  5. "Passion Is No Ordinary Word" – 4:26

Side two[edit]

  1. "Saturday Nite Is Dead" – 3:18
  2. "Love Gets You Twisted" – 3:02
  3. "Protection" – 3:54
  4. "Waiting for the UFO's" – 3:08
  5. "Don't Get Excited" – 3:04

Bonus tracks (2001 reissue)[edit]

  1. "Mercury Poisoning" – 3:09
  2. "I Want You Back" (The Corporation) – 3:26




Year Chart Position
1979 Billboard Pop Albums 40 [9]


  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Squeezing Out Sparks". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 March 2006. 
  2. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (April 30, 1979). "Christgau's Consumer Guide: Graham Parker and the Rumour: Squeezing Out Sparks Pick Hit". The Village Voice. Retrieved 5 January 2012.  Relevant portion posted in a revised version with new rating at "Graham Parker and the Rumour: Squeezing Out Sparks > Consumer Guide Album". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2 March 2006. 
  3. ^ a b Marcus, Greil (May 17, 1979). "Graham Parker Squeezing Out Sparks > Album Review". Rolling Stone (291). Retrieved 14 May 2006. 
  4. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "Graham Parker". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. pp. 616–617. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.  Pages posted at The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Google Books. Retrieved 7 January 2012. 
  5. ^ Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (April 19 - May 2, 1979): 25. 
  6. ^ a b Young, Jon; Rompers, Terry; Robbins, Ira. "Graham Parker (and the Rumour)". trouser press. Retrieved 2 March 2005. 
  7. ^ "The 1979 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. January 28, 1980. Retrieved 29 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone (937). December 11, 2003.  Citation posted at "500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 335 | Squeezing Out Sparks – Graham Parker". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 7 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Squeezing Out Sparks – Graham Parker > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". allmusic.com. Billboard. Retrieved 7 January 2012.