Exclusive: Graham Parker Writes About His Reunion Tour With The Rumour
We here at Ultimate Classic Rock have been thrilled that Graham Parker, one of rock’s most underrated songwriters, reunited with his old backing band the Rumour. Their mixture of biting lyrics against a backdrop of rock, folk and soul — and played with the raw energy of punk — made for some of the best music that came out of England in the punk/New Wave era.
While the new album, ‘Three Chords Good.’ featuring the single ‘Long Emotional Ride,’ is a bit mellower than their previous works, it’s still a great batch of tunes that reminds us of why Parker and the Rumour were one of the strongest bands of its day.
Naturally, we couldn’t believe our luck when we were given the exclusive opportunity to publish Parker’s own thoughts about the month-long reunion tour that recently ended. This included a concert at the party for the premiere of the hit Judd Apatow comedy, ‘This is 40,’ in which Parker plays himself and could finally give him the audience he’s long deserved. So read his words below, then check out ‘Three Chords Good’ and the rest of his catalog, which includes such classics as ‘Howlin’ Wind,’ ‘Squeezing Out Sparks,’ ‘The Mona Lisa’s Sister’ and ‘Struck By Lightning.’
The creaking knee joints and tweaky lower backs, the minor arsenal of rattling bottled medications, the cries of “Oh gawd, my bloody lumbago!”, the fevered panic attacks that percolated through the ranks in seismic waves threatening to evince mass hysteria, as if we were about to face armed combat in enemy territory, the detached retinas wobbling like drunken black ants in jelly jiggled loose by the massive boinging of cavernous halls, aircraft hangers still unpeopled at soundcheck but hopefully (please, hopefully!) packed by showtime, the airplane-induced ear pressure failing to pop until deep into purpling night hours waking the near dead with a jolt like shotgun retort that kills all further sleep utterly, bringing abject exhaustion once again from sticky hotel breakfast time onwards through the long, dank misery of travel day…and did I mention knee joints?
OK, there might be some exaggeration involved in the above sentence, but seeing as my memory isn’t what it used to be, how would I know? It could be startlingly accurate. But not one of these largely imaginary complaints could have stopped me and the Rumour from giving it all and laying it all down every night of the tour, and in turn getting it all back from the most marvelous audiences we could possibly hope for. It is true, however, that a frisson of nerves could be felt before we took the stage on our first gig in Tarrytown, but – for me at any rate – that all disappeared from the moment I walked on stage and heard that welcoming roar and the first chord struck of “Fool’s Gold,” which sat there fat as a hog without a hint of nervous speedy up, steady and nailed to the ground like a rock. I felt utterly confident of the band behind me, the strength of the set list, and sure-footed enough to strut around that old wooden stage like a monkey in heat the moment I reached the first song without a guitar strapped around my shoulders. No problem – this was gonna be a blast.
And so it continued to be from beginning to end (true, the turn-out in Poughkeepsie was as disappointing as I expected, but it didn’t lower our intensity one iota), from the east coast to the incredible experience of the “This Is 40″ Premiere and the jam-packed Roxy gig in LA, to the home away from home Park West venue in Chicago and the classic high-end concert hall airiness of St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater. It was all good.
We are all grateful for the support we’ve had, both in the area of record reviews for “Three Chords Good,” very few of which have been silly (meaning no one has foolishly called it a classic and no one has foolishly called it rubbish either), and for the reviews of the live performances (meaning all have been positive and some have rightly called them classic). A gratifying result for all of us.
This has not been about touring for touring’s sake, or about making money (a six piece band with three crew members…staying in hotels? This costs money!), but we felt we had to get out there for a short while at least and be a part of the “This Is 40″ entourage (I did a few panels with various cast members both before and during the tour, and then there was the Premiere…) and bash some instruments around for the heck of it.
Talking of the Premiere, what a night it was on December 12th at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in LA where all except for me (as I’d seen a screening in August) saw the movie for the first time with a capacity crowd and joined everybody there marveling at the quality of Judd’s and all the casts’ work on a screen so big, you had to keep moving your head from left to right in order to keep up with the fantastic camera work and editing. It really made you wish every cinema had a proper sized screen instead of these postage stamps in the cineplexes. Whatever size the screen, don’t miss this movie. I think it’s Judd Apatow’s finest work, not to mention the incredible double bill of Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd. They are just excellent in this film as are so many performances, too many to mention.
Also got to give a big thanks to Conan O’Brien for having us on the show. My publicists were working hard on all the late night shows but only the Conan folks had the good taste (!) to go for it.We also did some radio appearances on our “days off” and if they have not all been aired yet, keep an eye out for them.