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Friday, March 8, 2013

Graham Parker and the Rumour: Three Chords Good

Easily the most criminally under-appreciated musical act in my lifetime has been Graham Parker, whose best work was done with the Rumour as his backing band in the late 1970s.

GP never had the commercial success he so richly deserved.  The Village Voice in 1976 voted his first two albums as the two best albums of that year.  But the sound quality of his third album, "Stick to Me" was ruined when, supposedly, someone spilled something over the master acetate and the record company chose to release it in diminished condition rather than foot the bill to re-master it.  Not surprisingly, it didn't sell well and he changed labels, from Mercury to Arista (memorialized in the song "Mercury Poisoning") and next released what many regard as his greatest album, "Squeezing Out Sparks" (also voted #1 in the Voice), the marketing of which suffered from a backlash against the title song, a politically incorrect lament about abortion.  At which point, I think, the promotion segment of the record industry gave up on his work.  But for the past three decades, unlike so many musical acts who live largely off resales and reperforming work that is sesveral decades old,  GP plugged away, continuing to turn out new, quality albums every year or so, along with releases of live concert recordings from his earlier days.  (He also writes fiction and blogs).

Most recently, he reunited with the Rumour and released their first joint album in 31 years, "Three Chords Good", available through the usual distribution channels.  GP & the Rumour were featured in Judd Apatow's recent film, "This Is 40" and the Kickstarter-funded documentary about GP, "Don't Ask Me Questions," is going to premiere next week on "Radio Times" on BBC 4.

Here is a performance of "Heat Treatment" from GP & the Rumour in their prime in 77. There is lots of music by GP & the Rumour out there, including the new album (and they're also touring). I encourage anyone who is not familiar with them to give them a listen, and hopefully, you'll be as impressed with them as I have been.