In fact, there are a few discs here that I haven't bothered to listen to at all.
I, perhaps pretentiously, consider myself to be a current artist involved with current songs, some of which my delicate artistic, yet dangerously gnarly, hands were strumming through a few hours ago in an effort to remember what the bugger I was thinking about when I wrote some of them, which was even before I mixed the last album, "Three Chords Good."
Yes, I like to be ahead of the game.
What does surprise me though - whenever I do actually bother to listen to an old live recording - is that even though my memory of those past brutal tours tells me that my voice was always as shredded as Parmesan cheese, it actually wasn't as bad as I think it was. Perhaps because of my complete lack of experience as a singer in the early days of GP & the Rumour, I could barely talk before many gigs, let alone sing, having done all the things you should not do with human vocal chords the night before. But with the audience in front of me and the fear of looking like a complete prat, I'd somehow find at least a little something in the vocal chords when I hit the stage. Judging from what I've heard here, I obviously found more than a little something. Sometimes, there's even a touch of nuance and soul in there, those elements, as Bruce Springsteen kindly pointed out on the documentary, "Don't Ask Me Questions," of all the things that "made the music so great," - that "soul and emotion" behind the "caustic" yell that took it above the level of some mindless rabble-rousing "a-pub a-pub a-rocka/pub-a pub-a rocka!" nonsense that some critics might think sums up my worth.
As for the Rumour, well, I never doubted that even on a night we considered to be pretty flat, they were always good, and often superb. We might be playing the songs at a pace that flatlines any hint of subtlety and swing, two of the prime ingredients of the band, but they still had alarmingly creative musicianship and made up for the amphetamine-on-steroids approach with some blinding coordination that defies logic. What a band! They should really be backing someone who can sing properly!
Luckily, here in this collection, we do have a modern performance that satisfies my "current" sensibilities in the two discs that make up our recent appearance at the lovely Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN.
New stuff, old stuff, it doesn't really matter. It was the last show on our second modern day tour of the US, so we're pretty hot, and I'm thankful that we were able to use the in-house recording gear to capture a real stonker of a night. Thanks to all at the Fitz to their help.
And finally, thanks so much to all the contributors who made this set possible, and of course to John Howells for wanting to do it and pulling it off with great conviction, determination and skill. And look at that brilliantly mad artwork!
Buy the Graham Parker and The Rumour Official Bootleg Box here