Graham Parker & the Rumour / Graham Parker

Live Sparks

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In 1979, after releasing three albums in the United States through Mercury Records that earned rave reviews but minimal sales, Graham Parker signed with Arista Records for the American market, and the label was determined to break Parker in the U.S. Parker's first album for Arista, Squeezing out Sparks, was immediately hailed as a masterpiece and his supporting concert tour with his band the Rumour was wowing audiences at every stop. Squeezing out Sparks quickly became Parker's best-selling album in the United States, and hoping to keep the momentum rolling, Arista created a special item for press and radio to keep them interested. KSAN-FM in San Francisco and WXRT-FM in Chicago had both recorded shows from the tour for later broadcast, and over the course of the two shows Parker and the Rumour had played all ten songs from Squeezing out Sparks; Arista's promo staff took the ten tunes from the album, added two additional tracks ("Mercury Poisoning," an unapologetic kiss-off to their former label, and a furious cover of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back"), mirrored the sequence of the studio album, and created an LP called Live Sparks. Much like the earlier promo-only Live at Marble Arch, Live Sparks quickly became a collector's item among Parker's more loyal fans, and not without reason -- while it's looser and sloppier than Squeezing out Sparks, it does capture the Rumour in fine and furious form, and Parker puts his heart and soul into these songs, which rank with his best. Initially only a promotional release, Live Sparks received a belated commercial release in 1996 when its 12 tracks were added as a bonus to a remastered CD edition of Squeezing out Sparks; stripped of "Mercury Poisoning" and "I Want You Back," it emerged on its own in 2005 as a budget-priced disc called Extended Versions.

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