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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
There's nothing all that unusual about an aging rocker -- particularly one who's survived outside the mainstream -- trying his hand at country music, but the believability of Graham Parker's foray into the genre is mighty uncommon. That's due, in large part, to Parker's recognition that you needn't become a Hee Haw–style caricature in order to crank out legit country music. "Anything for a Laugh," which opens the 11-song collection, uses a healthy dose of barroom piano to push along a wizened road tale that calls to mind a Buck Owens–written "Tears of a Clown." On the flip side, "Cruel Lips," which features some crackling counterpoint vocals from Lucinda Williams, ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
There's nothing all that unusual about an aging rocker -- particularly one who's survived outside the mainstream -- trying his hand at country music, but the believability of Graham Parker's foray into the genre is mighty uncommon. That's due, in large part, to Parker's recognition that you needn't become a Hee Haw–style caricature in order to crank out legit country music. "Anything for a Laugh," which opens the 11-song collection, uses a healthy dose of barroom piano to push along a wizened road tale that calls to mind a Buck Owens–written "Tears of a Clown." On the flip side, "Cruel Lips," which features some crackling counterpoint vocals from Lucinda Williams, evokes both laughs and winces with its kiss-off message. While steel guitars and zither figure prominently in the mix of most songs, Parker does allow the odd glimpse of his usual angry not-so-young man prickliness -- it rears up most significantly on the sneering "Nation of Shopkeepers." And as if to prove he's always had a toe dipped in the genre's gene pool, Parker closes Your Country by revamping one of his early classics, retrofitting "Crawling from the Wreckage Revisited" with a pumping Sun Studios rhythm and a delivery that's more wounded than ferocious. To Parker's credit, this sounds less like an experiment than a logical next step in an always intriguing career.
All Music Guide - Mark Deming
While he had a switchblade voice and a lyrical style whose bitterness rivaled that of Elvis Costello or his more abrasive contemporaries, Graham Parker was never really a punk rocker, or even a new wave guy -- like his buddies Nick Lowe and Brinsley Schwarz, Parker was at heart an unreconstructed pub rock man, and like his fellow pub rockers, he had a soft spot for country-rock in the manner of the Band, even if he didn't air that enthusiasm very often. Just cue up "Between You and Me" or "Back to Schooldays" for proof. So it should be no great surprise that Parker has recorded a twang-friendly roots rock album for Chicago's "insurgent country" label Bloodshot; what might surprise a few is that it's a strong, intelligent, and compelling piece of work that shows Parker mellowing just a bit with age, but still maintaining the sharp eye that's always been the hallmark of his songwriting. Parker's tales of a second-rate comedian on the road "Anything for a Laugh" and an Englishman adjusting to life in the States "Nation of Shopkeepers" are first-class character studies that show compassion for their protagonists without disguising their failings, "Things I've Never Said" and "The Rest Is History" prove he can write well about a semifunctional relationship when he's of a mind, and "Queen of Compromise" and "Fairground" reveal Parker's still in touch with his snarky side, and still knows how to use it well. As for the music, Parker doesn't bend over backward to make these tunes sound "country", and that suits both him and the songs just fine -- the occasional washes of lap steel and blues-flavored shuffle give these songs a well-applied rootsy touch without condescending to a genre that by his own admission he doesn't know remarkably well. In an accompanying essay, Parker says the Rolling Stones "have showed me that country music is just the blues", and Your Country suggests Parker and his partners have learned well from that lesson -- like the best blues and the best country, this is an album of simple but well-crafted songs about real people's lives, full of home truth and some well-applied piss and vinegar. Added value items: a duet with Lucinda Williams on "Cruel Lips," and a snappy new version of "Crawling From the Wreckage."
Entertainment Weekly - Tom Sinclair
A Brit's take on Americana that reveals Parker's always formidable songwriting chops are as well honed as ever. (A-)

A Brit's take on Americana that reveals Parker's always formidable songwriting chops are as well honed as ever. (A-)
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/9/2004
  • Label: Bloodshot Records
  • UPC: 744302010625
  • Catalog Number: 20106
  • Sales rank: 127,408

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Graham Parker Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocals, Echo Harp
Lucinda Williams Vocals
Don Heffington Percussion, Drums, Jew's Harp
Tom Freund Electric Bass, Keyboards, Background Vocals, Melodica, Upright Bass
Ben Peeler Lap Steel Guitar
John Would Lap Steel Guitar
Technical Credits
Jerry Garcia Composer
Graham Parker Composer, Producer
Robert Hunter Composer
Julie Parker Cover Design
Joe Gastwirt Mastering
John Would Producer, Engineer
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