It’s difficult to imagine (as one who listened obsessively to Squeezing Out Sparks, Heat Treatment, Stick to Me, The Up Escalator, and—especially—Howling Wind way back in the 70s and early 80s) that Graham Parker and the Rumour would get back together through email so many years later. Part of the impetus may have been the documentary Don’t Ask Me Questions and part a request to perform in a Judd Apatow film.
This is 40, the follow up to Knocked Up, had mixed reviews but it’s a big hit as a catalyst to helping reunite these talented musicians and fostering the return of Graham Parker and The Rumour. “My Life in Movieland” gives a pretty good synopsis of Parker's take on his movie career. Whatever the ultimate reason for their reunion, it’s clear the timing is right.
Mystery Glue is defniitely an album from 2015, while clearly being one by the same crew that put out those 70s classics. That sound is still there, somewhat influenced by the music of the intervening years, but with the unmistakable thumbprint of the group now, making the tunes as recognizable as those from long ago. You can’t mistake them.
Something New, Something Old
There are two categories of songs on Mystery Glue, possible hits and satire songs such as “Slow News Day,” “Railroad Spikes,” and “Swing State.” Possible hits are many and it will be interesting to see how this album does when, or if, the fans of yesteryear get to hear Mystery Glue. Songs like “Fast Crowd,” “Transit of Venus,” “I’ve Done Bad Things,” “Pub Crawl,” and “Flying Into London” are great tunes for any era and certainly among the best they have released thus far. Note the hope that another is in the works.
Anyone who ever turned a Graham Parker and the Rumour LP over and set the needle down on side B will renew and relive something pretty special by giving this album a spin in a new, or even an old, medium. Graham Parker and the Rumour’s Mystery Glue is a welcome addition to their solid catalogue. Many of us were pleasantly surprised by 2012’s Three Chords Good and their return to the stage and studio. And as good as Three Chords Good was, Mystery Glue sounds like a band that is both respectful of its past and moving forward.