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Making its debut on the CD format, this is a Graham Parker & The Rumour show from 1977, recorded at the very non-rock ‘n’ roll sounding Trent Poly Sports Hall in Nottingham (I guess it was three years before the city’s now legendary Rock City came to be). A new name for me when this turned up for review, just who is this Parker fella? Blurb informs that he formed Graham Parker and the Rumour in 1975 alongside former members of pub rock bands, had a degree of mainstream success, including an appearance on Top of the Pops with a top 30 UK hit, but they released their final album in 1980 and split the following year (although online digging reveals they did reform in 2011 for a few years, apparently). Parker continued his career as a prolific solo artist, releasing nigh on twenty studio albums, right up to this very year.

So, ‘Live at Trent Poly Sports Hall, Nottingham 1977’ must be something of a welcome release for fans of Parker and his ephemeral band. And the good news is that it generally sounds great in terms of sonic qualities. There’s some light buzz to be heard throughout, which is more noticeable during songs’ quieter moments, but never proves to be an overall distraction. And the crowd noise that’s been brought into the mix, generally between tracks, sounds detached from everything else… almost as if it’s from an entirely different show. However, the crux of it all, the music itself, light buzz aside, is bright and dynamic, and with a very nice stereo mix… although the guitars levels sound a little too high, at times.

Of the songs, there’s a whole ton of rhythm and blues, blues rock, some reggae flavours with the likes of ‘Don’t Ask Me Questions’, and New Wave punk-inclined sways to much of the material, with Parker’s oft-semi-dissonant vocal delivery. Performance-wise, it all has a nice sounding live immediacy. The musicians were evidently in the moment and delivered the songs with an appetite for the stage. There is some vocal discordance, like I said, but I’m guessing this is intentional… although it’s all exacerbated by some backing vocals that are more…well, just some guy shouting out stuff… check out ‘Fools Gold’ for a prime example of such.

The packaging, while nicely designed with an atmospheric live shot adorning the front cover (albeit said shot also appears on the reverse of the front cover, behind the CD tray, on the CD itself, and on the back of the case… why pay for multiple live shots when you have one good one?), leaves much to be desired. No booklet; rather, a fleeting bio about Parker on the reverse of the front cover, which amounts to nothing more than a flimsy insert. There’s zero info about the show itself, other than the date, the venue and the fact it was recorded by John Moon, who was assisted by Geoff Woodward… two men who evidently hadn’t mastered the art of recording decent crowd noise.

To be honest, this live release doesn’t really do it for me, although I’m guessing that it’s not an ideal initial introduction to Graham Parker and the Rumour’s music. As such, I respect its merits for what it is and have to say that this is one strictly for fans only.
Angel Air
Review by Mark Holmes
29th November 2019
1) Lady Doctor; 2) Heat Treatment
3) Sweet on You; 4) Silly Thing
5) Fools Gold; 6) Howlin' Wind
7) Pouring It All Out; 8) Gypsy Blood
9) Back to School Days
10) Don't Ask Me Questions
11) Not If It Pleases You
12) The New York Shuffle
13) Soul Shoes
14) Hold Back the Night
15) Kansas City
"...not an ideal initial introduction to Graham Parker and the Rumour’s music... this is one strictly for fans only."