By John Parkes
John Parkes is a singer songwriter in the most traditional of senses. One man, his guitar and his occasional harmonica is as much as is needed on this 12 song solo break from Whole Sky Monitor. Parkes is a founder member of the late 80's wave of Leeds musos having at some point roadied with The Wedding Present and Cud, and also been a familiar face on the scene with a number of "almost made it" bands such as The Sinister Cleaners and Fuzzbird. This collection of northern accented Dylan-esque material is carried off reasonably well and the monotony of a stripped back approach is avoided by some effective changes of pace. Parkes' vocal strengths also shine through when laid bare and the uncomfortable muddle of his work with WSM seems a distant memory. The problem with Parkes is his lurching between lyrical genius and toe curling clichéd northern "wit". "Move On" is a touching and brave tale of a father leaving for the sake of his kids but when contrasted with the cringe worthy Richard Stilgoe style "Hippy Father" it's hard to believe the same man is responsible. "To Go Round" is pop politics on mob law levered into a song, which no doubted sounded like a good idea at the time and the nonsense of "Goldfish" ends up being just that, too obvious as it is a song simply about a goldfish. One proud boast John Parkes can have above most is that John Peel played a song off every record he has ever made. If the great man were still with us, and he were keeping up this tradition then surely he would not be play listing "Hippy Father".