STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
He’s been making albums for almost 40 years, yet Graham Parker has not lost any of his caustic punk wit.
On the song “Slow News Day” from the 64-year-old Parker’s recently-released album “Mystery Glue” — featuring The Rumour, once again, backing him up — he sneers: “The cat stuck up a tree got rescued, yay! … Even the crazy radicals stayed away.”
More than two years removed from a movie role, playing himself in the Judd Apatow dramatic comedy “This is 40,” the song “My Life in Movieland” at first comes across like he was disillusioned by the experience. But, said Parker in a phone interview, that song is not really about “This is 40.” In fact, he highly recommends the Blu-ray version of the movie, which includes extras like additional concert footage of Parker and guitarist Tom Freund, and deleted scenes that include as a pay-as-you-go phone skit with Paul Rudd, a “Books-A-Rama” skit with Albert Brooks and a scene with Parker and actress Charlyne Yi.
“Always take anything I do with a grain of salt,” Parker said, a smile in his voice. The Randy Newman-flavored “My Life in Movieland,” which he says the band nailed in one take, is imagining “an 80-year-old Bette Davis waiting in a flea bag hotel for a taxi that isn’t coming.”
Or, Parker said, painting a different word picture: “Two old geezers in a hotel bar and there’s a piano, and they say: ‘You remember that hit we had?’”
When asked if the new song “Transit of Venus” was inspired by Bob Dylan — because of a motif reminiscent of Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street” — Parker wryly replied, “That’s an old Elton John melody, that he can’t write anymore.”
An indie label artist since the mid-‘90s, Parker funded the recording of “Mystery Glue” himself, was shopping for a label to release it, and serendipitously found himself back on the roster of a major record label for the first time in more than 20 years. Besides the purely selfish reason of having a major label budget to promote his music, Parker is proud to be with Universal Music Enterprises because of the care they took in reissuing The Rolling Stones’ landmark album “Sticky Fingers.” He also expressed excitement that Universal is the official caretaker of vintage R&B, blues and psychedelia master tapes from the Cadet Concept and Chess Records labels.
“Of course The Rumour did those first albums with me. That’s irreplaceable; there’s nothing that sounds like this,” Parker said of reuniting with Bob Andrews, Brinsley Schwarz, Martin Belmont, Andrew Bodnar and Stephen Goulding.
After writing “Judd Apatow, call me” in an essay about imaginary movie soundtracks on www.grahamparker.net, Parker dropped a bombshell on the director/mega-fan in 2012 that he’d be making music with The Rumour for the first time since 1980. “He thought I was joking,” said Parker.
The Rumour’s appearance in “This is 40” coincided with the release of the album “Three Chords Good.”
The band, which supplies an eclectic backdrop of rock, soul and reggae on “Mystery Glue,” is on the road with Parker, including a June 18 show at Sellersville Theater. “New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia have always been (giving me) a great deal of support. I look forward to playing that beautiful theater,” he said.
Parker’s 1989 album “Live! Alone in America” was recorded at Philly’s Theatre of the Living Arts.
For more, see www.facebook.com/GrahamParkerOfficial, and on Twitter @ItsGrahamParker.
IF YOU GO
What: Graham Parker & The Rumour with opener Mike Gent.
When: 8 p.m. June 18.
Where: Sellersville Theater 1894, 24 W. Temple Ave. at Main Street, Sellersville.
Tickets: $35 and $50.
Info.: Call (215) 257-5808 or visit www.st94.com.