Editors’ update: There is a great interview with GP by Richard Turner in the 11/15/12 Wall Street Journal:
“Don’t Tell Columbus” Day Special and Query
Our little corner of the blogosphere is fired up over the reunion of Graham Parker and his finest band, the Rumour, and their upcoming U.S. tour. The story of how Parker & The Rumour came together is interesting and almost quaint, in this internet/e-mail/Facebook and Twitter age. In 1975, GP placed an ad (an AD, as in “the printed word”!) in Melody Maker, looking for a band that “sounded like the Rolling Stones backing Bob Dylan.” Through this add, Parker met Dave Robinson, the manager of pub rockers Brinsley Schwarz, who had – fortunately or unfortunately – just disbanded. Robinson introduced GP to guitarist Brinsley Schwarz, the leader of the eponymously-named band, and his keyboardist, Bob Andrews. From the remains of another band that had recently decided to call it quits, Ducks Deluxe, came another guitarist, Martin Belmont. The Rumour’s rhythm section – Andrew Bodnar on bass and Stephen Goulding on drums – were recruited from yet a third recently deceased band, Bon Temps Roulez. So, from a simple newspaper ad came an introduction, and the fortuitous confluence of the disintegration of three bands with the rise of one of the greatest songwriters of the post-punk era. And the rest is rock ‘n roll history. [credit must be given to John Tobler’s 1996 liner notes to the “Vertigo” album for much of this information].
The band went on to make a series of critically acclaimed LPs, including ” Heat Treatment”, “Howlin’ Wind”, ” Stick to Me”, and ” Squeezing Out Sparks”, playing hard-nosed rhythm and blues, tinged with reggae and rock. Graham composed much of the catalog, and the songs embraced social and political justice themes, as well as the personal yearnings of a man never satisfied. Recordings of the live performances during those years are worth scoring; the band coalesced into a tight, punchy unit on tour that backed the acerbic singer’s rants and romancing with equal aplomb. Though enthusiastically reviewed and well received in person, the band never caught on in the American market, a travesty outlined in GP’s evisceration of his label, ” Mercury Poisoning” ( ” I’ve got a dinosaur for a representative, he’s got a small brain and refuses to learn” ” the company is crippling me, the worst tryin’ to ruin the best..”). Probably the best label-poke-in-the-eye since Skynyrd’s ” Workin’ For MCA”.
The band hit the end of the line in ( wait for it, the 30-year reunion…) 1982 and Parker has since acquitted himself well as a solo act, and sometimes backed by assembled bands. His feisty attitude is undiluted by time; those years produced hilarious lancing of the River City ( ” I’ll Never Play Jacksonville Again”) and Barbara Bush ( ” The Harridan of Yore”, which is worth downloading just to hear GP referring to Dubyah as ” her son, the imbecile”, and pronouncing it “im-beh-SEAL”).
The Minneapolis stop is a regular for GP, and this year’s show is featured on our Calendar page. To honor the occasion, and give the man and the band some well-deserved props, we’re declaring October 9 as ” Don’t Tell Columbus ” Day, as our gentle way of breaking it to Cristobal Colon ( true name in Spanish) that it was really Graham who did the deed:
” So please don’t tell Columbus, don’t tell his Queen for sure… that I had the accurate compass, and I discovered America…” – GP, ” Don’t Tell Columbus”
That title track and the second number, ” England’s Latest Clown”, are strong enough to carry the CD, and worth checking out. But for the initiated, one of our occasional queries: Just who is the twit so ably skewered by GP in ” England’s Latest Clown”? First viewer to nail the answer gets a free three-week subscription to our monthly e-newsletter, and the privilege of buying Gebippe a beer at the Minny show!