Director: n/a

Release Date: August 27, 2013

Graham Parker DVD; 50 mins.


 Say what you will about Judd Apatow’s film This Is 40, it did one thing right. It turned the spotlight on Graham Parker, who played a key supporting role in the movie. Parker roared out of England in the mid-70s along with fellow acerbic singer-songwriters Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson. While he has continued making albums over the years; his devoted fans  – as joked about in the film – aren’t large in number. The movie role’s timing was particularly fortuitous because Parker had recently reconvened his renowned backing band, the Rumour, after thirty years for his 2012 album, Three Chords Good.

 This DVD, recorded live in Los Angeles around the time of the movie’s release, provides a fine “then and now” musical look at Parker and the Rumour. The dozen tracks contain eight vintage Parker songs along with a quartet of new tunes. Selections go back to his Howling Wind debut (“Soul Shoes”) and its follow-up Heat Treatment (“Fools Gold”), although the majority of them, not surprisingly, come from his most popular album Squeezing Out Sparks.

 These old songs have aged remarkable well given their age. One reason is that Parker and his band didn’t rely on New Wave gimmickry that would sound dated today. Based upon American R&B and soul music, Parker’s well-crafted blue-collar roots rock could have been as easily written now as in the Seventies. And here, the performances are uniformly strong. The Rumour’s playing shows no signs of rust, with Martin Belmont and Brinsley Schwarz’s crisp, concise guitar work being particularly memorable. There is still a fire to Parker’s vocals, although his youthful venom has been tempered by middle-age worldly-wise warmth.

 The lean, straightforward quality of Parker’s music is reflected in DVD itself. There aren’t any bonus features and little between song banter, which is a pity because Parker is known to tell a story well. Parker completists will bemoan the lack of a more thorough look at his career while those less familiar with his music might not become converts after viewing This Is Live. The DVD, however, serves as a great summary of Parker’s accomplished body of work and long-time fans will relish the opportunity to relive Parker and the Rumour’s songs as the band delivers winning renditions of beloved numbers like “Local Girls,” “Discovering Japan” and “Passion Is No Ordinary Word.”

 Special features: none.

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