Howlin’ Wind by Graham Parker and The Rumor is an album of abundant substance. The story behind the band and the production of the record have a lot of sub-plots behind them so I will try to focus more on the record and its songs rather than try to form a family tree behind it. This will be hard because Howlin’ Wind was produced by Nick Lowe, features Dave Edmunds as a guest guitarist and was recorded at Eden Studios in London, a studio that had quite an impressive guest list from 1972 to 2007. You very well might have quite a few records that were recorded there: Elvis Costello, John Cale, Joe Jackson, The Happy Mondays, The Smiths, The Undertones, The Sex Pistols, Primal Scream and Oasis are just a few bands that have recorded at Eden Studios. That said, I will try to pin down the Album “Howlin’ Wind” and a give brief history of Graham Parker and the Rumor.
So this is going to be new, because we’re going to get to know this one together. I became a fan – and I mean a rabid, rabid fan of The National via a burned copy of High Violet that a former co-worker slipped me back around the time it came out in May of 2010. I sat on the record for a few years because at the time I was inundated with new music and what I can now admit was a completely erroneous idea that The National’s music was what I call “beard and wine music” (think Bon Iver – who knows, I may one day find I’m wrong about him too). So around 2014 Bret Easton Ellis had the band’s lead singer Matt Berninger one his podcast. I was unfamiliar with the guest by name, and as the cast began with the opening of High Violet’s Conversation 16 my eyes went wide – it sounded exactly like Ellis’s prose – which I am an enormous fan of – reads: haunted. I listened to the conversation Ellis and Berninger shared, which dwelled largely on Mistaken For Strangers, and afterward sought out the song on youtube. When I did I realized it was from the album I had on file and immediately dug it out of one of the stacks of burned discs that live in a cupboard in my dining room.
So I intercepted that last tag…because well…maybe I just needed to and all the signs pointed that way. Sometimes life throws a few things at you and you probably know what I mean in your own way. Change, sadness, uncertainty, self-examination. Dodge, push, move, repeat. But move…move on and try your damnedest to look back in fondness or at least without anger. Live now. Evolve. This version of 1989 was suggested by a friend and I was a bit skeptic, but knowing Ryan Adams and his outstanding catalogue I had to give this a listen. I will fully admit I cannot boast of being a Taylor Swift aficionado thus I’d not heard any of 1989 with the exception of the singles like “Shake it Off” and “Bad Blood.” And at the point of this writing, I’ve still not. I prefer it that way, I feel I can be more objective rather then comparing the two works. I do fully recognize Swift as the primary songwriter and lyricist for these songs, thus critique of any lyrics would be directed that way. I will say she is talented. More talented then my original perception of her abilities. Which goes to show you…
I’ll be damned if Southern Bastards didn’t just one-up itself AGAIN!
- Go to an 80’s themed dance party
- Drive around in the rain
- Shop for some really upscale, nice clothes
- Make out and/or make love
- Buy it on vinyl (it sounds great)
- Play the title track, “VV Violence,” and “Never Enough” over and over and over again
- Immediately listen to the thing again and see why it’s a brilliant synth-pop record
What a year, eh? While 2016 was easily the most devastating year I’ve seen in my 40 on this planet. To kick things off David Bowie died before the damn News Years clock had hardly even stopped ringing. Follow that with Prince, Richard Lyons, Sharon Jones, Phife, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, Merle Haggard and just before the closing bell, George Michael. That’s not even all of them, but it’s more than enough to illustrate that the Universe had A LOT to make up for. Ying and Yang, right? You cut down a tree, you plant one in return. Well, I don’t know if the scales balanced, but I certainly found a ton of great new music this year. A heaping helping of it it is published by the wonderful Felte Records, so you may want to bookmark their website and keep an eye on them. Also, my two main gatekeepers/curators at this point are Heaven is an Incubator and Part Time Punks, two more great tools for finding amazing new sounds to make your ears happy.
The year is finally over. We made it. I can’t say the same for a good chunk of our heroes, but we’re here, and we must sort out a world without Princes, Princesses, and a thin, white Duke. Wonka is dead, and one of the Oompa Loompas are taking charge.
We’ve said goodbye to icons, begrudgingly acknowledged the elephant in the room, and watched countless instances of human suffering unfold around the world. That doesn’t even consider the personal struggles any of us have faced. For my partner and myself, it has been a doozy.