CD Review – Graham Parker and The Rumour “Three Chords Good”
Like a howlin’ wind, the lads squeeze out sparks all of the way up the escalator
I always try to give a fair and balanced tone to my reviews regardless of my previous relationship with an artist’s career or even the genre it is pigeon-holed in (Bluegrass!); but when I heard that Graham Parker and the Rumour were recording together for the first time in 20 years I was genuinely shaking with excitement.
On the day the padded envelope arrived all work was cancelled and I played THREE CHORDS GOOD back to back 10 or more times, and now; a week later I have to break radio silence and actually put my thoughts down onto paper.
The ‘white reggae’ of opening track Snake Oil Capital of the World wouldn’t have sounded out of place on any of their earlier albums; but now, even though the lyrics and sentiment are great, it still sounds like a Police album track; making it the only track that even remotely sounds dated..
Thankfully track two; Long Emotional Ride, which starts and ends with a spine-tingling organ solo from Bob Andrews, is pure God-damn Graham Parker and the Rumour at their best! For me the song should have either opened ort closed the album as it is Parker looking back at his career and life in a way a man can only do when surrounded by friends and doesn’t deserve to be anywhere else.
She Rocks Me is another track that harkens back to Parker’s halcyon days in the late 70’s as he doesn’t exactly scream his love for a new woman in his life from the rooftops, but he certainly wants everyone to know; and I’m happy for him.
Title track and another love song, Three Chords Good sounded wonderful the first few times I heard it (and I still like it) but when you listen closely to the lyrics a lot of it is gibberish! But perhaps that’s what it’s like during the first flush of love.
Old School fans shouldn’t worry; because the Parkerilla can still do ‘angry’ better than just about anyone else; especially with the Rumour softening the blow in the background. A Lie Gets Halfway ‘Round The World more than nods in the direction of Mercury Poisoning for bile and rage as Graham gives the Music Industry both barrels (again).
The album finishes with my current favourite song – Last Bookstore in Town; a rye and sarcastic look at the real reasons behind small, niche businesses going to the wall and could only be written by GP.
My only real gripe is that Arlington’s Busy is about America’s role in Afghanistan and no one seems to notice how busy Arlington Cemetery is and makes no mention of the Soldiers from her own Mother country that are also coming home in body bags. The lyrics could easily have been made slightly more general; but it would appear that Graham Parker’s Americanization is now complete; which is a shame as everything about his writing and phrasing are intrinsically British.
I don’t really know what happened 20 years ago to make the singer pack his bags and sail off to the Americas but he’s made a life there, touring virtually non-stop and releasing 20 plus albums but not even popping back home for a cup of tea.
Compared to his solo-work ; THREE CHORDS GOOD sounds like the album of a contented (yet grumpy) man who has made his peace and had a ball in the studio with his old friends; who also haven’t sounded this good in 20 years.