8316-4-R The Mona Lisa's Sister
Produced by Graham Parker and Brinsley Schwarz
Released on April 1988
US CHART POSITION #77
Find it at GEMM
8316-4-R cover  

G et started. Start a fire. You can start with your copy of The Mona Lisa’s Sister. Because if any Graham Parker record is dispensable, this one is. This is Graham gone soft in the middle, writing unremarkable songs and playing them with all the interest of a burned-out cynic. Strictly paint-by-numbers stuff: the limp reggae diversion (“The Girl Isn’t Ready”), the cuddly cover tune (Sam Cooke’s “Cupid”), the bashers (“Don’t Let It Break You Down”) and the ballads (“I’m Just Your Man”). The Real Macaw wasn’t real good either, but Struck By Lightning struck a chord with me, so maybe the ‘80s were just a giant holding pattern for our man of steel. The Stinkerilla is still the worst Graham Parker album I’ve heard, but The Mona Lisa’s Sister belongs in the same basement. Parker is too dour a personality to charm us with anything less than bright or beautiful songs, and this album doesn’t have them. If you have an uncritical eye (as I did in the beginning), you may be less disappointed, since Parker still manages to rouse himself out of middle age for a few good lines. Spanky the Imp proffers the following as proof: “And everybody slaps their back while you’re alone with a wristful, jerking to the rhythm of success.” Narsty stuff, but it’s sung in such a tired manner that the IMPact is minimized. The whole thing is something of a yawn, inexcusable after a three-year sleep. But don’t let it get you down; Parker gave his fans a reason to smile again in the ‘90s.

8136-4-R lyric sleeve
8136-4-R lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. DON'T LET IT BREAK YOU DOWN
  2. UNDER THE MASK OF HAPPINESS
  3. BACK IN TIME
  4. I'M JUST YOUR MAN
  5. OK HIERONYMOUS
  6. GET STARTED. START A FIRE
  7. THE GIRL ISN'T READY
  8. BLUE HIGHWAYS
  9. SUCCESS
  10. I DON'T KNOW
  11. CUPID    (Sam Cooke)

    All selections written by Graham Parker unless noted

CREDITS

GRAHAM PARKER -- lead & backing vocals and acoustic guitars, arrangements, cover concept
ANDREW BODNAR -- bass guitar, arrangements
JAMES HALLAWELL -- keyboards
BRINSLEY SCHWARZ -- electric guitars, backing vocals and percussion, arrangements
TERRY WILLIAMS -- drums
Christie Chapman -- backing vocals
Andy Duncan -- drums (9)
Jed Lieber -- arrangements
Pete Thomas -- drums (4,7)
Jon Jacobs -- engineer
Jack Drummond -- cover painting
Jolie Parker -- photograph
Laurence Stevens -- sleeve design

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK 1988 Demon LP/CD/CS FIEND/FIENDCD/FIENDCASS 122 lyric sleeve
US/CAN April 1988 RCA LP/CD/CS 8136-1/4-R lyric sleeve
AUS'L 1988 Liberation LP/CD LIB/CDLIB 5149 lyric sleeve
US 1996 Buddha CD 99616  

 

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