The Store For Music [Release date 18.11.13]
Graham Parker & The Rumour are back! In fact GP hasn’t really been away. Yes he’s been absent from the UK for years, but across the pond he’s been studiously working on his solo act, as a singer-songwriter and comedian. In the land of the free it’s a case of whatever it takes. And yet he’s apparently well suited to the dual role, as the former New Wave ‘angry young man’ has matured as a prodigious songwriter who apparently takes a much more sanguine view of the world. The net result is that he and the reformed Rumour are to be found centre stage in the Hollywood movie ‘This Is 40’, which provides this DVD with its source material.
‘This Is Live’ finds the trim suited and booted GP buzzing and fizzing at the front of his old Rumour band mates, picking out the best bits of 12 songs that aren’t so much a career resume as a partial updating of his career.
And if you were looking forward to the breathless, spiky, soul tinged, up tempo R&B of yore, you are in the wrong decade, because GP & The Rumour play to their current strengths by emphasizing the melodies, the hooks and the undulating swing and soul of the songs, further emphasized by his intuitive phrasing. This after all is a band that has reconvened after a 30 year plus gap and unsurprisingly they’ve matured as a unit without losing an ounce of their passion.
It’s just that the Graham Parker of 2013 is a vocalist for whom the songs are everything, and in his words they are no longer ‘butchered’ as in the old days. Happily the new material stands up as an eloquent statement of who he is now. This is no more so than on the reflective career retrospective of ‘Long Emotional Ride’, which features keyboard Bob Andrews on an swooping organ figure and bv’s. Similarly the love song ‘Stop Crying About The Rain’ features a signature Parker vocal and has a rootsy feel to it, voiced over a lovely rolling keyboard line.
‘She Rocks Me’ is positively poppy with a croaky Dylan style vocal, while ‘Three Chords Good’ – the title track of his new album – is a mid tempo relaxed piece which builds up a head of steam and is topped by another expressive GP vocal. The new material suggests he’s never lost the art of song writing. Apart from the impressive new material, it is arguable he was at its peak on ‘Squeezing Out Sparks’, which contributes 5 songs to this set.
‘Nobody Hurts You’ retains Brinsley Schwartz’s intricate guitar intro and a feverish pace, while ‘Passion Is No Ordinary Word’ is completely re-jigged with a slower tempo and an acapella intro before Martin Belmont slips into a reggae beat and Bob Andrews joins GP on harmony vocals.
By the time of ‘Stupefaction’ they’ve got you hooked, even if the DVD is built round a set of relaxed tempos and played to seated audience with waitress service, which has more to do with the film requirements than a dedicated concert setting. No matter, ‘This Is Live’ finds Graham Parker & The Rumour in the rudest of health, with a batch of impressive new songs, played by a band that has miraculously dropped back into the groove after three decades.
They finish on the essential white boy soul of ‘Soul Shoes’, with Bob Andrews rocking out on piano and Graham at his imperious best, as they finally make a connection with the invite only audience.
GP started out as a psychedelic rocker before transforming himself into a white boy soul and New Wave singer and now he’s backed as a full fledged, mature singer-song writer. The Rumour does him proud and ‘This Is Live’ finds the band a little older and a little wiser, but no less essential because of that. A great comeback! ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
Photos by Mark Hughes (MPH Studios 01883 344852)
Video interview (November 2013)
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