Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
raham Parker and The Rumour hit the mark right out of the box with two - yes that would occur in those days - albums out within 6 months in 1976 - "Heat Treatment" and "Howlin' Wind." Both were excellent albums that helped make a mark for the Brits more among critics than at the cash register.
Parker and his backing band were pub rockers, part of the same conglomeration as Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe. Now, it'd be labeled roots rock.
But after seven studio releases in four years (the excellent "Squeezing Out Sparks" came out in 1979), Parker and members of The Rumour went their separate ways.
Last year, Parker and The Rumour to record "Three Chords Truth" (Primary Wave), a very strong just released disc that shows zero signs of wear and tear.
And now, 31 years later, Graham Parker & The Rumour are back on the road for a short U.S. tour. And short proved to be way way better than none. Parker and the boys - all original members - showed they had not lost their way during their break, starting with Fool's Good and ending after two encores and 100 minutes with Soul Shoes.
This was a concert that mixed and old and new, and the new did not sound the least bit perfunctory. Nor should it have given the quality of "Three Chords Truth." Neither did the old as many songs (and there was a lot of worthy material to choose from) were not mere recitations of yesteryear's versions.
Understandably, Parker & The Rumour delved into the old before the new with Nothing's Gonna Pull Us Apart and the bouncy, fun Hotel Chambermaid setting the table.
Parker showed he was more than game to tackle a few weighty subjects in the new material. Coathangers, the first of the new songs tackles the role of women in society, wondering if they have to go back to using alternative means to take care of pregnancies. Later, they sang of media disinformation in A Lie Gets Halfway 'Round the World…
Parker, who certainly maintained his acerbic wit after all these years (although he still wasn't all that easy to understand), wasn't afraid to tackle what's on his mind.
Parker has not been sitting idle, releasing a bunch of solo discs and touring the States regularly from his suburban New York base. His profile actually is about to rise again as he plays a musician in Judd Apatow's "This is 40," hitting theatres Dec. 21.
His band mates have not maintained quite the same profile, but they certainly didn't have any dust to shake off. Ace guitarist Brinsley Schwarz continued in that role, although towering Martin Belmont also assumed leads here and there. Bob Andrews on keyboards was a mainstay along with Schwarz in getting the rock, soulful and reggae songs going. Andrews, based in New Orleans for a few decades, repeatedly spiced up the songs with his laying. And Steve Goulding set the steady beat with Andrew Bodnar helping keep the rhythm going on bass.
It all came together in songs like Stupefaction and Local Girls, which closed the up-tempo regular set.
Parker and The Rumour clearly seemed pleased - and seemingly a bit surprised - with the results and the fan response to the outing. But they shouldn't have been.
The wait was a long one, obviously, but well worth it. Let's hope it's not another 31 years of waiting.