Knock, knock! I was 14 years old, and still hadn’t really picked up an instrument of any kind, but that was soon to change. There was a kid at the door, who I recognised but I wasn’t sure from where.“Hello” he said, “do you play the drums?” I’d hit them a few times, but I certainly wasn’t any kind of drummer, “I can hear someone playing sometimes when I walk past your house.” “I’ve hit them a few times but my little brother is the drummer” I replied. That was the first I really knew of Joe Parker, who would soon recruit my brother, Dave, to The Mega Hairy Men, their band at the time, and later we’d play together in The Power. -Bob Wade Brown (The Beaux Hardts)
Beginning in The Mega Hairy Men, alongside longtime co-conspirator Dave Wade Brown, the mercurial Joe soon began to show a flair for songwriting, live performance and smashing instruments. Unfortunately, scarce recordings survive from this first chapter as the group eventually parted ways to study, but it gave Joe a springboard to come back better than ever later on.
Whilst at univerity in London, he ran a radio station, put on concerts, played more gigs, did some live photography (including Joe Strummer RIP) and honed his songwriting skills. Some of the songs written at that time are on the first disk of his self-released “Exile’s Sketches”, including the well loved “Spanish Girls.”
After moving on to Oxford, where he composed two more albums worth of material, one of which becoming the “Ten Friends” LP, Joe was ready to form a band again, this time as the front man.
Joe Parker and the Power never played with the same lineup twice, but the core of the band was Joe with the two sets of brothers Dave (drums) and Bob Wade Brown (guitar) of The Beaux Hardts, and Campbell (bass, guitar) and Ollie Austin (drums) of Moneytree, along with Jimmy Hatherley (guitar, bass) and Mike Anderson (keys, also of Moneytree).
The band toured across the UK in their tourbus, Puncher, in an incendiary booze and drug fueled fury, playing one week as a two peice (Finally got to play those drums- Bob) and the next with six. Puncher was wired such that the band could play whilst driving along the motorway from show to show, and was bought with the proceeds of sunken treasure Joe found when diving in the River Hamble. In fact it was to be his home off and on until it’s sad demise. The Power made few releases, but some rare live recordings and demos remain, along with the “Bee Stings” EP.
After The Power imploded, Joe continued playing live as Ann the Arc, with musicians like Dave Miatt and Jimmy Shivers (both then with Thomas Tantrum), their recording “Buttercup” is on the Sotones 1313 sampler. Later he went on tour to the United States, where he wrote and busked new songs such as “Brooklyn”, to pay his passage from city to city.
On returning to England these songs were released on a split EP, “What’s Wrong With Broken Glass?” with Dave Miatt. The tour to promote the EP was a sponsored bike ride across the UK, with the proceeds (along with those of the record) going to Oxfam. The single “Shanty”, taken from the EP was then released, featuring the B-Side “Mary Rose”, one of Joe’s finest songs and a live favourite.
After a tour in Germany, Joe decided the time was right to record a new album, bringing together a lot of unreleased material. He rallied several of the musicians from his previous bands, and they decamped to Furnace Studios in Bulgaria to start the recording sessions for “The Tired And The Stunned.” The sessions continued in the UK with the vocals recorded at Abbey Road, and further overdubs at Valley Studios.
Although the album has long been completed, it mysteriously remains unreleased, despite previews of some of the tracks. Since then Joe has continued to tour in the Uk and Europe, and fans continue to wonder when some of the tapes he has kept in the vault will finally surface…