Heat Treatment

Parker had written a scathing indictment of the record industry, "Mercury Poisoning," when he left his U.S. label, Mercury Records, after Stick to Me quickly became a cut-out in 1978. He still plays the song in concert. "I'm reading a lot of stuff about the record industry now, and "Mercury Poisoning" is as timely as ever -- the way bands get one album, and that's the end of their career if they don't sell a lot on a major label. It takes three weeks, really, to see if a record's going to do it or not. They give you all this bullshit about how they're gonna work the record for a while, but in three weeks, they know. You've got Soundscan telling you right away that this is a flop." For now, Parker has no label affiliation, after a couple of releases on the independent Razor and Tie label in the mid-'90s. His newest release, Loose Monkeys, is for sale only through the Internet, sold either at www.razorandtie.com or by linking there after visiting his highly entertaining personal Web site, www.punkhart. com/gparker. (Really, you want to read his spot-on analysis of how good Marilyn Manson's last album is, hidden away in Parker's essay from last October or November.) The album is mostly a collection of demo recordings of songs never put on his other records. I don't hear any lost classics, but I do hear a lot of fine material that stands up as a solid, enjoyable album for fans.

On Saturday, May 22, Parker will appear at the Side Door, playing solo in St. Louis for the first time in something like 10 years. "I'm much, much better now," he promised. "It's a much more fun, relaxed thing. The songs have taken on a much wider, more loose appearance. I've learned to play solo. It should really be a liberating experience, which it is for me now. Let the songs flow, go in different directions. It's a great thing, actually.

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