Parables for Wooden Ears

Infobox Album
Name = Parables for Wooden Ears
Type = studio
Artist = Powderfinger

Released = flagicon|Australia 18 July 1994
Recorded = Metropolis Studios, Melbourne February 1994
Genre = Alternative rock, Hard rock
Reviews =
Length = 49:54
Label = Polydor Records
Producer = Tony Cohen
Last album = "Transfusion" (1993)
This album = "Parables for Wooden Ears" (1994)
Next album = "Mr Kneebone" (1995)
Misc = Singles
Name = Parables for Wooden Ears
Type = studio
single 1 = Tail
single 1 date = 1994-06-14
single 2 = Grave Concern
single 2 date = 1994-08-22
single 3 = Save Your Skin
single 3 date = 1995-07-22

"Parables for Wooden Ears" was the debut studio album released by the Australian band Powderfinger. It was released on 18 July 1994 by Polydor Records, after recording at Melbourne's Metropolis Studios in February 1994.

The album was received poorly, and failed to chart or improve Powderfinger's platform after the meagre success of its predecessor, "Transfusion". Critics complained about its poor imitation of Americana and grunge, as well as its overuse of complex riffs. In a 2004 interview, Powderfinger frontman Bernard Fanning said "God knows what we were on then" in reference to the album. Three singles were released from the album, all of which failed to chart.


In a 1996 interview, lead singer Bernard Fanning described "Parables for Wooden Ears" as "big and presumptuous", and stated that it had "a pretty massive sort of sound". He said that the band somewhat regretted this, and didn't intend to do so again on future releases.cite web|url=|title=I Is Not Me|publisher=Powderfinger Central|work=Drum Media|author=Peter Blythe|date=29 October 1996|accessdate=2007-12-24]

On "Parables for Wooden Ears", Powderfinger worked with producer Tony Cohen, whom Fanning described as having a huge reputation, and thus being expensive to work with. However, due to the "lack of an obvious single", the album sold poorly, despite the effort put into production.cite web|url= |title=Out Of The Blue|publisher=Powderfinger Central|work=Juice|date=March 1997|author=Simon Wooldridge|accessdate=2007-12-25] The album was recorded at Melbourne's Metropolis Studios in February 1994. "Parables for Wooden Ears" contained references by Powderfinger to Aboriginal rights, with a song written by drummer Jon Coghill discussing the idea that the band's generation was the first to reach out to the concept of reconciliation.

In 1998, guitarist Ian Haug described "Internationalist" as a moderation between the band's last two albums, calling "Parables for Wooden Ears" a "complicated beast". [cite web|url= |title=The Beckoning Finger|author=Benedict Watts|work=Juice|publisher=Powderfinger Central|date=November 1998|accessdate=2007-12-25] In a 1999 interview, Fanning said that the band "were sorting out our sound" on the album, and that despite it not working well they still thought it was "a good record". [cite web|url= |title=Allergic Internationalists|publisher=Powderfinger Central|work=hEARd Online Music Magazine|date=1999|accessdate=2007-12-25] "Juice" commentator Simon Wooldridge noted in 2000 that "Parables for Wooden Ears" contained "million"s of riffs, and thus the band were not able to produce a simple sound on the album. [cite web|url= |title=This Sporting Life|publisher=Powderfinger Central|work=Juice|author=Simon Wooldridge|date=September 2000|accessdate=2007-12-25]

In a November 2004 interview with Melbourne newspaper "The Age", Fanning recalled that the head of Polydor Records had described the album as "awful", and remarked that "God knows what we were on then". He also said that in making "Parables for Wooden Ears", Powderfinger "went through this weird stage of trying to be something [they] weren't." [cite web|url= |title=Finger's finest|author=Craig Mathieson|date=5 November 2004|publisher=The Age|work=Music|accessdate=2007-12-25] Fanning also told "Australian Musician" that the album, a "spectacular failure", was a result of the band feeling "forced" to play like other bands that were popular in Brisbane at the time.cite web|url= |title=Ten Years in the Spotlight|publisher="Australian Musician"|date=2004|author=Dino Scatena|accessdate=2008-03-12]

Release and response

"Parables for Wooden Ears" was released on 18 July 1994 on the Polydor Records label.cite web|url= |title=Parables For Wooden Ears|publisher=Powderfinger Central|work=Discography|accessdate=2007-12-25] Three singles were released from "Parables for Wooden Ears"; "Tail", released on 14 June 1994, [cite web|url= |title=Tail |publisher=Powderfinger Central|work=Discography|accessdate=2007-12-25] "Grave Concern", released on 22 August 1994, [cite web|url=|title=Grave Concern |publisher=Powderfinger Central|work=Discography|accessdate=2007-12-25] and "Save Your Skin", released on 22 July 1995. [cite web|url=|title=Save Your Skin |publisher=Powderfinger Central|work=Discography|accessdate=2007-12-25] Due to the minimal promotion and reputation of the band, the album and singles failed to chart.

Critics generally agreed with Powderfinger's assessment of the album, with some describing it as "a thundering rock album" and noting the similarity to Americana. Fanning also noting that the album had a lot less "balance" than the album that would follow it, "Double Allergic".cite web|url= |title=Powderfinger - Break the Barrier|publisher=Powderfinger Central|work=Rolling Stone|author=Tracey Grimson|date=January 1997|accessdate=2007-12-25] Other critics noted that "Parables for Wooden Ears" had a "dark, overly complex metal sound", and complained of the album's "distorted guitars", but put this down the album being a learning experience for the band. [cite web|url= |title=Budding Internationalists|publisher=Powderfinger Central|work=The Courier Mail|author=Noel Mengel|date=16 November 1999|accessdate=2007-12-25]

"Parables for Wooden Ears" received a moderate response from reviewers. "Juice" reviewer John Encarnacao enjoyed the rock elements of the album, drawing comparisons to Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. He thanked producer Tony Cohen for the "big sound" of the album, and said that the musicians on the album "not only know about power and restraint, but also play tastefully". Encarnacao stated that Fanning "lays the emotion on thick and usually more than gets away with it." The review was summarised by stating that the album may have been "a bit like the retro-rock that the big corporations want you to buy", but that nonetheless it was a good album.cite web|url= |title=Parables for Wooden Ears review|publisher=Hindley Site|work=Juice|accessdate=2007-12-24]

"Sputnikmusic" contributor James Bishop gave the album a score of 2.5 (average), summarising his review with the statement "Get "Double Allergic" instead." Bishop stated that the album contained too much imitation, and that the album is "pretty much forgotten by even the most hardcoriest of music fans" because of the poor imitation in it - described as "a simple case of "monkey see, monkey not do very well"." Bishop praised some aspects of the album, stating that "Hurried Bloom" contained "a raw song-writing ability" and that "Sink Low" was "a hidden gem". However, he said that the majority of songs contained Powderfinger trying too hard with their riffs, noting "Bridle You" and "Father's Pyramid" as specific examples. Bishop also criticised the lyrics in most songs, stating that "Walking Stick" contained "some horrendously "bad" lyrics". The highlight of the album for Bishop was "Save Your Skin", which he called "a gorgeous addition to their collection", despite calling the overall album "a pretty dark and depressing experience".cite web|url=|title=Powderfinger - Parables for Wooden Ears|publisher=Sputnikmusic|author=James Bishop|date=12 April 2006|accessdate=2007-12-24]

Track listing

All music written by Bernard Fanning, John Collins, Ian Haug, Darren Middleton, Jon Coghill. Lyrics by Fanning unless otherwise noted.cite web|url=|title=Parables for Wooden Ears > Overview|publisher=Allmusic|accessdate=2007-12-24]

# "Walking Stick" – 4:06
# "Tail" – 5:27
# "Hurried Bloom" – 3:34
# "Fathers' Pyramid" – 4:38 (Fanning, Coghill)
# "Bridle You" – 3:56
# "Citadel" – 3:23
# "Sink Low" – 2:12
# "Grave Concern" – 4:46
# "Solution" – 3:50
# "This Syrup to Exchange" – 4:31 (Fanning, Coghill)
# "Namaste" – 2:21
# "Blanket" – 3:39
# "Save Your Skin" – 3:36


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