If devolution and techno-rock are the musical ultra-left, and punk the reactionary far right, there is an intriguing New Right composed of the more broadly based (and effective) figures from the New Wave: Graham Parker, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Dave Edmunds.
Although in recent months Costello's publicity and the surprising general success of his "Armed Forces" album have put him out in front of the pack, by rights it ought to be Parker who breaks through the American lethargy. His new album, "Squeezing Out Sparks," and the tour which brought him to Lisner Auditorium Saturday night, have all the power and anguish of "Armed Forces" but none of the cheap propaganda.
Parker is no naif. His writing is hoarse with despair, belligerence and weary cynicism; but like Woody Allen, whom, of all things, he somewhat resembles, he retains some tarnished vision of beauty.
There is pain and resignation, but all delivered in a package of great power. "You Can't Be Too Strong," "Nobody Hurts You (Harder Than Yourself)," "Passion Is No Ordinary Word" - his song titles by themselves slash across the pop pap on the radio. And in these days of emotional exposure, Parker's cry of "Can't Get No Protection" has more relevance than "Satisfaction," from which it is descended, and the Rolling Stones' old sensual preoccupations.
Parker has the advantage of the Rumour's notoriously potent backing, especially the cool-cat, white-tux guitar glory of Brinsley Schwartz. Unfortunately, the sound mix in Lisner let the band obscure the vocals from time to time. CAPTION: Picture, Graham Parker