Not that it’s a bad thing at all, but Graham Parker sounds almost exactly like Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, the Jam, and Marshall Crenshaw. Parker had been toiling as a quirky and amusing but rock-edgy singer-songwriter for the better part of the ’70s (solo, and with his bands The Rumour and The Shot) to big success in his native England, and to the lower-rungs of the album charts in the U.S., including the classic 1979 release Squeezing Out Sparks.
A major standout on that album: the power pop classic “Local Girls.” Songs about girls, and a specific type of girl, always strike a nerve and hit big, be they California girls or California gurls, to cite two examples. Maybe the idea of “Local Girls” just wasn’t as exotic or enticing as girls from a distant locale.
Squeezing Out Sparks was favorably reviewed by the two biggest musical approval industrial complexes of the day, Rolling Stone and the self-appointed Dean of Music Critics, Robert Christgau. It charted at a respectable #40. None of that could persuade the country to bother with “Local Girls”—it failed to chart.