There are good reasons why Squeezing Out Sparks is widely considered Graham Parker's finest hour. For one thing, it was the leanest, meanest moment on record by Parker and The Rumour. Here they left behind the soul-slathered pub rock of their acclaimed early albums in favor of a stripped-down sound that had more in common with the new wave scene for which they'd helped lay the groundwork. The twin guitars of Brinsley Schwarz and Martin Belmont are at their fiercest here, spitting out barbed-wire lines around Parker's vociferous vocals, and drummer Steve Goulding's streamlined strength gives it all a powerful push forward. Parker was also shedding some skin lyrically—"Passion Is No Ordinary Word" and "Nobody Hurts You" are as emotionally unguarded as anything else in his catalog, though no less fiery for it. And when he and The Rumour rein things in for the ballad "You Can't Be Too Strong," a cold-eyed look at abortion, they achieve their most visceral impact of all. An album's worth of live bonus tracks intensifies the experience even further.