Graham Parker's second collection of odds and ends, The Official Art Vandelay Tapes, Vol. 2 is a good bit less essential than the first disc in the series -- while the first set featured a number of songs that had never popped up on a Parker album before, the second volume is primarily devoted to live recordings and single edits (or expansions) of tunes already (reasonably) easy to find in the Parker canon. While there is one previously unreleased song here, "Sinkin' Low," most of this set is devoted to live tapes from various promo releases, and while they capture Parker in solid form, for the most part they don't stand apart from the more familiar versions. And while the rare studio cut of "I Want You Back" with the Rumour makes its CD debut here, both the single edit of "Just Like a Man" and the 12" remix of "Too Late the Smart Bomb" are so similar to the original versions that even rabid fans will have a hard time telling the difference. And the quality of the source materials is inconsistent, with some tracks obviously taken from vinyl with audible clicks and pops; it's hard not to wish a bit more had been done to clean up this stuff. And the liner notes are not always clear about what was recorded where and when, an annoyance for the sort of fan most likely to pick this up. Graham Parker completists will want The Official Art Vandelay Tapes, Vol. 2, but they might not find it enormously useful, and casual admirers can pass without guilt.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming