Release Date: May 19, 2015
Record label: Universal
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Album Rock
In his early days Graham Parker shuffled like the rest of us, digging ditches, picking tomatoes, collecting money from pinball machines, working in a bakery, a glove factory, a petrol station, and unloading frozen foods. There may even have been a brief stint as a latex salesman at Vandelay Industries. Parker is certainly no slouch; his total studio album count (including albums recorded with his band the Rumour) is something like 23, plus 20 live albums and 17 compilations.
If Graham Parker had been given a dollar every time someone called him an "angry young man" in the '70s, he and his band could probably have driven a fleet of Porsches from gig to gig, but with the passage of time, Parker hasn't mellowed so much as he's evolved into a different sort of cranky guy, with the same wit and verbal acuity but a good bit more charm. If Parker used to be a more R&B-influenced Elvis Costello, a man with enough rage that he could tell God where to get off, in 2015 he's the Larry David of rock, a shade bitter but likable and funny to boot, and his backing band the Rumour has aged just as well, hitting less hard than they once did but gaining a swing and a groove that reminds us these guys were the All Stars of the pub rock scene once upon a time, where unpretentious and easygoing music ruled the day. Cut in an efficient six days, Mystery Glue is Parker's second album since reuniting with the Rumour in 2011, and though this doesn't rock with the impact of their '70s masterpieces like Heat Treatment or Squeezing Out Sparks, it sounds absolutely right for its time and place, with Parker easing his way through a set of songs that confirm he hasn't lost his touch as a lyricist and the Rumour giving him just the sound and the space that he needs.
Graham Parker and the RumourMystery Glue(UME)Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars Long suffering Graham Parker enthusiasts who watched their hero tumble from his late 70s heights into a career laden with inconsistent albums, backup bands and gradually decreasing commercial interest were likely enthusiastic about his 2011-2012 comeback. Between a key role in Judd Apatow’s This is 40 flick (referenced in this album’s self-deprecating “My Life in Movieland”) and a reunion with the Rumour after 32 years that yielded the better than expected Three Chords Good, it seemed Parker was on a well-deserved rebound. The anticipated follow-up though finds Parker stumbling again.
The reunion of Graham Parker And The Rumour after a three-decade career break, for 2012’s Three Chords Good, saw a generation of 70s fans rejoice. Strong material played with verve, it was everything you’d have hoped from the one-time “angry young man” and his backing band. Now they have the tough task of repeating the unlikely feat – and, predictably, it all falls a little flat.
After their solid but unassuming 2012 reunion record, “Three Chords Good,” Graham Parker and the Rumour release a bracing dose of soulful rock that recalls the intimate, immediate feel of their first two influential albums from 1976. “I live in a swing state, I live in a state of swing,” Parker sings on “Swing State” capturing the essence of their collaboration with a smart twist of words. Few rock bands swing with this mix of finesse and power, thanks to the nimble rhythm section and Bob Andrews’s versatile keyboard playing.