Graham Parker - lead vocals, guitar; Brinsley Schwarz - guitar; George Small - keyboards, vocals; Michael Braun - drums; David Brown - guitars; Doug Stegmeyer - bass; Jim Clouse - saxophone; Kurt McGettrick - saxophone, flute
Graham Parker returned to the U.S. in 1982, on his with his first post-Rumour tour, to promote Another Grey Area, his seventh album in six years. Having moved from Mercury Records to Arista (the label paired him with producers Mutt Lange, Jimmy Iovine, Jack Nitche and Jack Douglas), and despite having moved toward a distinctly slicker, more pop-oriented feel, Parker still maintained enough of his trademark sound to keep the old fans happy.
The new band is made up of former members of Billy Joel's band, studio players who worked on the LP and Brinsley Schwartz (the lone holdover from the Rumour). While together they comprise a very capable backup group, they fade into the background during this relatively indifferent Chicago area performance.
But, Parker, eager to make a name for himself as a world-class singer/songwriter, more than makes up for it with his impassioned vocals. His conviction is most apparent on the older, more familiar material such as "Howlin' Wind," "White Honey," "Heat Treatment," and "Stick To Me," which is clearly one of the highlights of the show. Schwartz's lead guitar solo on the song, moreover, is particularly noteworthy. Another gem from this recording is Parker's version of "Passion Is No Ordinary Word," taken from his 1979 masterpiece, Squeezing Out Sparks (which, in 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named one of the top albums of all time.)
Parker had been kicking around the dying U.K. pub scene since the early '70s, doing Stones and Beatles covers by night and breeding mice for lab experiments by day. After a demo tape of his made it to David Robinson, the president of the new indie label Stiff Records, Parker got signed primarily on the strength of songwriting. Stiff moved him up to Mercury Records and helped him assemble an ace backing band made up of top session players and former members of Ducks Deluxe and the Brinsley Schwartz Band, both of which were leading pub acts of that time. Graham Parker and the Rumour debuted in 1976 with Howlin' Wind, a critically acclaimed album that drew comparisons to the Stones, Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen. While the critics loved Parker, and he was able to build a large and loyal cult audience, the ability to achieve a major crossover, commercial success has always evaded him.
This recording features Parker at a time when many critics feel he was producing his most commercially accessible records. Still, he failed to reach the top of the charts. Within the next few years, Parker would become content to be a great, but commercially limited, cult act. He has continued recording and touring over the past few decades, releasing his latest album, Don't Tell Columbus, in March of 2007.