Release Date: Nov 20, 2012
Record label: Primary Wave
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Album Rock, Rock & Roll
One of the sharpest songsmiths of the U.K. rock scene in the late Seventies, Graham Parker always owed more to Dylan and Van Morrison than to his punk counterparts. On his first set in 31 years with the Rumour, which coincides with a star turn in Judd Apatow's This Is 40, the former "angry young man" is still pissed off and deft with a hook. "Snake Oil Capital of the World" is a reggae-grooved diagnosis of the U.S.; Parker also plays an anti-intellectual on "Last Bookstore in Town." The words may be jagged, yet the music is rarely less than supple.
It only takes a few bars of the opening Snake Oil Capital Of The World for the listener to get his or her bearings. The shuffle of the rhythm, the bite of the guitars and the venom of the voice ploughs a direct path back to the halcyon days of Howlin’ Wind. This is Graham Parker and, without a shadow of a doubt, The Rumour. In the 33 years since their last album together, The Up Escalator, Parker has continued to make literate, acerbic records full of wit and insight, but only a handful have come close to the fierce energy of the band with which he made his bow.
It is not as if Graham Parker never found another sympathetic backing band after he parted ways with the Rumour in 1980. Notably, he joined forces with the power pop band the Figgs in the mid-'90s, having them as his supporting group for over a decade, a far longer stretch of time than he played with the Rumour, but there was no shaking the ghost of his original band, the one who supported him on the classics Howlin' Wind and Squeezing Out Sparks. Whatever lingering grievances between bandmates were forgotten and forgiven and Parker reunited with the Rumour for 2012's Three Chords Good, its release coinciding with their pivotal appearance in Judd Apatow's This Is 40.
The excitement that greeted Graham Parker & the Rumour’s arrival in 1976 still conjures enough good feeling to make the return of Parker & the Rumour, on the new Three Chords Good, one of the year’s most eagerly awaited rock reunions. They haven’t played together since Parker’s 1980 album The Up Escalator, although Rumour members have played with him since then. And while time hasn’t totally stood still for Parker’s voice or his intuitive synergy with his backing band the way it has for his peer, Elvis Costello, the man has brought some strong, memorable songs and keen wordplay to this recording session.
Graham Parker and the Rumour burst forth as part of the British pub rock scene in the mid-’70s, made four records, and parted ways. Now they’ve reunited. The result? Another record — and a good one — very much like the records Parker has been making for the past decade.