Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Three Chords Good: Graham Parker’s Favourite Albums

As Graham Parker & The Rumour prepare to play their final ever shows later this month, the prolific singer-songwriter talks Ben Graham through the 13 albums that have had the biggest impact on him as a musician

Photograph courtesy of Laurence Watson

Discovered by DJ Charlie Gillett in 1975, southern English singer-songwriter Graham Parker was one of a handful of artists who offered a way out of the cul-de-sac that rock music – bloated, overblown and complacent – had got wedged into by that time. His tough, soulful songs married working-class anger to a finely-tuned sense of literary and musical craft, and drew heavily on a love of vintage R&B and rock & roll.

Parker never stopped working, but 2012’s Three Chords Good found him reunited with The Rumour, his crack band on those seminal 1970s LPs, with impressive, rejuvenating results. Graham Parker & The Rumour returned to the studio for this year’s Mystery Glue, a fat-free set of organic rock & soul that fully deserves to be measured against their classic early work.

"We didn’t second guess; we just played," Parker says, speaking on the phone from Vermont, though he actually lives now in the Catskill Mountains region of upstate New York. "We don’t have a producer stepping in – I know what I’m doing, and then the band picks up on it and off they go into their own brilliant creativity. I know Mystery Glue is as good as any of my stuff. We’re all playing a bit looser; we’ve all fallen into our groove a bit more. I think there are some more experimental things and the songs are pretty good."

As for his listening tastes, while Parker’s Baker’s Dozen choices are mostly drawn from his youth, he’s definitely still a fan and still looking for inspiration and education wherever he can find it.

"Don’t stop learning about music, that’s the thing," he says. "That’s what we’re doing, and we’re not constrained by anything. Whatever people think; go ahead and think it. We don’t need to be constrained. We’re free."

Mystery Glue is out on Cadet Concept Records. Graham Parker & The Rumour begin a UK tour, their last ever shows, at Bristol O2 Academy on Sunday, October 11; for full details and tickets, head here. Click on the image below to begin scrolling through Graham’s choices, which run in no particular order

First Record

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today