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It's Great To Have Them Back,
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This review is from: Three Chords Good (Audio CD)
Now when I first heard the rumour (sorry), a year or two back, that master songwriter Graham Parker was planning to reunite his great band of 30 years ago, I was (of course) suitably excited. After all, this is a combination that produced some of the greatest music of the late 70s/early 80s (right up there with their peers and comparators - Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison and Elvis Costello). OK, let's get the 'bad' news out of the way first. For me, Three Chords Good is a good (maybe very good) album, but does not (for me, unsurprisingly) reach the heights of their classic first four albums (Howlin' Wind, Heat Treatment, Stick To Me, Squeezing Out Sparks) or indeed even Parker's later superior albums (Mona Lisa's Sister, Human Soul, Burning Questions).
Also, perhaps unsurprisingly, Three Chords Good features Parker's song-writing more in the mould (and mood) of his later more acoustic and mellow works rather than having (with a handful of exceptions) the vibrancy of the early albums. Linked to this is the fact that I can't help thinking that the album does not make full use of the musical talents at Parker's disposal. Whilst Bob Andrews' keyboards are certainly to the fore and are suitably impressive, The Rumour's two ace guitarists (Brinsley Schwarz and Martin Belmont) are, for me, woefully underused here - there are very few examples here of Brinsley's trademark searing guitar breaks and even less of Belmont's flying Fender (and I can assure you there's nothing wrong with their playing these days, as evidenced by their performances for Ducks Deluxe at a gig a couple of months back).
Having said all of this, there is enough good material here to make the album an essential purchase for any GP and the Rumour aficionado. Certainly, a major plus for the album is that, after a rather nervy start, Parker's great soul voice begins to shine through so that by the time we reach Coathangers (easily the best of the scarce rockers here) he is almost back to Soul Shoes, Heat Treatment, Thunder And Rain standard. Other standouts for me include the title song (an ironic take on past, and misplaced, comparisons with punk?) which has an infectious vocal and a rare example of pulsating Brinsley riff, the series of impressive ballads that are Stop Crying About The Rain, Old Soul , That Moon Was Low and (best of all) Long Emotional Ride, the up-tempo A Lie Gets Half Way 'Round The World and there is a nice trademark GP reggae feel to album opener Snake Oil Capital Of The World (with its Don't Ask Me Questions-like opening). There is also an unusually explicit political content to the anti-war Arlington's Busy, which (for me) is one of the more middling offerings here.
I feel rather guilty about being quite so critical of what is the comeback album of one of my all-time favourite musical acts, but I think it can only be a mark of the high esteem in which I hold (and the high standards by which I judge) Mr Parker and Co.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Aug 2013 21:39:09 BDT
MR KEITH WYNN says:
For me the best album ive heard this year. Lots of variety on the album and some cool playing. Parkers voice sounds better now than years back. After watching a program about him on BBC4 i also went and purchased squeezing out sparks. How could i have missed this gem of an album. It sounds like it was released this year. Great stuff Graham. Keith W.
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Aug 2013 17:11:53 BDT
Keith M says:
My namesake - also try catching him on his UK live dates in October
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