Graham Parker - guitar, vocals;
Bob Andrews - keyboards; Martin Belmont - guitar; Andrew Bodnar - bass; Steve Goulding - drums, percussion; Brinsley Schwarz - guitar; John Earle - saxophone; Ray Beavis - saxophone; Chris Gower - trombone; Dick Hanson - trumpet
This show was Graham Parker's big American roll out. Although it was not his first show on American soil, it was his first appearance on the King Biscuit Flower Hour, and his first widespread exposure in the U.S., as it was aired on over 500 FM radio stations. Parker had emerged from the thriving London pub scene with his 1976 Howlin' Wind album. The record was critically acclaimed globally, especially by the same American critics who had just recently been saying that Bruce Springsteen was the future of rock 'n' roll. Having secured the Rumour, a hot R&B flavored club band, as his backup group, and with an instrumental lineup that was similar to the E Street Band, the comparisons to Springsteen were inevitable.
Having a melodic blend of Stax-style soul music, '60s-flavored, Stones-influenced rock 'n' roll and Brit-punk vocals, Graham Parker made some of the most striking and tasteful records produced between 1976 and 1978. He wrote, recorded and toured for four albums in two years on Mercury Records, but the label clearly had no idea how to cross Parker over into mainstream success. The early records were all produced by Nick Lowe, who brought a ragged edge to the production.
This show, recorded at the legendary Palladium Theater in Manhattan, is classic Parker, when he was young and feverishly excited to be on stage with this band. From the opening chords of "Heat Treatment," through gems such as "Soul On Ice," "Heat In Harlem," "Heatwave," "Hey Lord, Don't Ask Me Questions," "Watch The Moon Come Down" (which borrows heavily from Van Morrison) and the witty "Lady Doctor," this show is loaded with one great song after another. The Rumour's instrumental efficacy is undeniable, and it is easy to understand why Parker never equaled his critical acclaim after he dropped the group in 1982.
Parker's vocal performance at this show is among the best you are likely to hear. He was truly in top form, sounding like a cross between Mick Jagger and early Van Morrison - give a listen to "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" and the biting "Stick To Me," the title track from what was his new album at the time this show was recorded.
Despite the fact that he was clearly a favorite among rock critics, Parker only cracked the U.S. Top 40 a couple of times, and never sold more than 250,000 copies of any of his albums. Mercury would continue to let his career languish after each record received better reviews than the one prior. By 1980, Parker had moved to Arista, where he issued "Mercury Poisoning," an indictment of his former label. For the next twenty five years after that, he released more than a dozen albums on four of the five major labels and three indie labels. By the mid-1980s he had settled into a steady career that catered to a very loyal cult following. He continues to record and tour today.