CD Review: Graham Parker – Mystery Glue
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been an unapologetic Graham Parker fan for over 30 years. A contemporary of some of my favorite Stiff/Radar artists (Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello for example), he’s part of powerpop’s DNA although we may not think of him as fitting neatly within the genre. Regardless, when Parker puts out a new record, it’s tantamount to Christmas for me – which is sort of ironic when one considers GP’s disdain for everything religion.
If you lost touch with Parker in the decades between Three Chords Good and his first few albums, one could hardly blame you. Life goes on. That being said, Mystery Glue may remind you of why you were enamored with this guy in the first place. With the help of The Rumour, GP brings you back to those early albums like Howlin’ Wind and Heat Treatment – almost as if we never left.
Parker’s characteristic lyrical twist is in evidence on one of my favorite tracks, “Swing State”, a tune that appears to be an olive branch – until he pulls it back. “I’ve Done Bad Things” has an instantly catchy chorus and sounds as if it would have fit seamlessly on Heat Treatment if it weren’t for the Obama reference. With “My Life in Movieland” we get a dose of Parker’s self-deprecating sense of humor and “Flying Into London” is instantly enjoyable much in the same way as his “I’ll Never Play Jacksonville” from 2001’s Deep Cut to Nowhere .
Parker has dialed down the anger just a bit without refraining from his political ramblings – which some will find objectionable. But that in no way diminishes him or his songwriting genius. Parker’s songs have an amazing clarity while being neither simple nor cliche – even the ones that deviate from the viewpoint I may hold. For my money, he has always been (and remains to be) one of the best songwriters of the last 30 years.