John Parkes - Illegal Songs
If only Universities could impart their teachings of the UK legal system with the same acoustic, howling forbearance? Then, surely, there’d be more students graduating with first class law degrees than there are aspiring subjects for the next airing of Big Brother. ‘Let’s Make Love’, is a piercing example of how, through these fourteen poetic, journeying and biting tracks, the honest host of Radio 1’s ‘Indie Guitar Heroes’ show Mr John Parkes. Dissects with Mark Thomas’ precision the frailty and rigid nature of the striking, but not always fit for its purpose coat of armour we call our legal system. A spontaneous romantic occurrence is turned into a tight legal contact, who says the art of parody in music is dead? Whoever it is has been listening to The Fratellis far too much.
‘Incitement To Racial Hatred’, picks up the angst along with the pace of the acoustic trundle. Feeling oozes out of Parkes’ when he exposes a catch all law, preceding one of his haunting harmonica trots with the admonition; “Pause For Reflection.” It is through the general lash out at the Government of ‘Left Of Centre’ that his true lyrical prowess and protest sloganeering leaps out like a viral infected mutant from ‘I Am Legend’;
“We’re left of centre in a knighting your friends kind of a way
We’re left of centre in an off shore tax kind of way
We’re left of centre in a corporate sponsored kind of way.”
Of course, these slurs could easily apply to Radio 1, but that’s probably best left for another feature. The Tom McRae in Parkes comes out through the rumbling, eerie ‘Running Down My Track’ that pushes over the boundaries into blues/folk territory. A trickle of sincerity makes Parke’s gripes easy to listen to. This second album will go a long way towards establishing him as an earnest songwriter worthy of respect, especially as very few burning issues are left untouched.
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