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Graham Parker & the Rumour 

When: Tue., Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m. 2012
Price: $36
Graham Parker opens the new Three Chords Good (Primary Wave), his first album in 32 years with his band the Rumour, with the rock-reggae shuffle "Snake Oil Capital of the World," a stinging rant about American greed and gullibility—it feels an awful lot like "Don't Ask Me Questions," from his 1976 debut, Howlin' Wind. That was the first of five great studio albums—arguably the best of his career—that Parker made with the Rumour, an all-star group of English pub-rock veterans with whom he parted ways in 1980. The Rumour still consists of guitarists Brinsley Schwarz and Martin Belmont, bassist Andrew Bodnar, keyboardist Bob Andrews, and drummer Steve Goulding (a former Chicagoan who's in the Mekons and the Waco Brothers), just as it did in the late 70s—the members also turn up in the forthcoming Judd Apatow film This Is 40, playing themselves reuniting. The songs on Three Chords Good lack the fire of classics such as "Mercury Poisoning," "Stick to Me," and "Discovering Japan," but they've got the same irresistible mix of rock, soul, and R&B—and it's nice to be reminded of the days when it was fairly radical to embed that stuff in scrappy, no-nonsense protopunk and play it straight-up, instead of like an overwrought asshole rock star. The music sounds pretty traditional now, but between Parker's acerbic, undiminished singing and the band's swinging, elegant attack, it's as vital as anything I've heard this year. —Peter Margasak

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