AL8-8023 The Real Macaw
Produced by David Kershenbaum
Released on July 1983
US CHART POSITION #59
Find it at GEMM
AL8-8023 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

S ince Sparks, Graham Parker has squeezed out albums only slightly less impressive than their predecessor, so that from SOS to Escalator to Grey Area seemed a small decline from point to point. The Real Macaw continues the slow and almost imperceptible slide, though looking back we’re clearly looking up at the peak of Parker, sensing that perhaps we won’t pass this way again. At this point (as in every great career, artistic or otherwise), the eyes of piercing intellect begin to sag a little, the comfort of consistency worms its way into the once-unbreakable bones, and the laurels of past accomplishments are shifted a bit more prominently on the head to hide now-thinning locks. But that sounds elegiac, and we’re not burying Parker yet. On The Real Macaw, the real problem is that producer David Kershenbaum (Joe Jackson) lets Parker roam a little too much rather than rein in compositions like “Sounds Like Chains.” After uncorking the vintage vitriol of “Just Like A Man,” the album’s aim is less true. “You Can’t Take Love For Granted,” “Life Gets Better” and “Anniversary” are good songs, but as Parker softens his position he seems to lose his edge. (By contrast, the interior redecorating of Imperial Bedroom was clearly the work of the same cranky genius.) The keyboard choices from George Small are also terrible, single-handedly sinking songs like “Passive Resistance” and “Beyond A Joke.” Since I’ve invited the EC comparison, I will say that The Real Macaw is a better album than Goodbye Cruel World. Parker doesn’t sound tired so much as content, which for an artist like him could spell trouble. He’s done the angry young man to death, and seems interested in experimenting a little, even going so far as to write an atmospheric dance track, the credible “(Too Late) The Smart Bomb.” Really half of this album is just fine, the other half in need of some spackle and a more consistent coat of paint. The house of Parker is in a little disorder here, and when Arista cleaned house the artist found himself looking for a new home, eventually setting up camp in Elektra.

AL8-8023 back cover AL8-8023 picture sleeve
AL8-8023 back cover AL8-8023 picture sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. JUST LIKE A MAN    2:39
  2. YOU CAN'T TAKE LOVE FOR GRANTED    4:38
  3. GLASS JAW    3:15
  4. PASSIVE RESISTANCE    3:20
  5. SOUNDS LIKE CHAINS    4:45
  6. LIFE GETS BETTER    3:16
  7. A MIRACLE A MINUTE    3:12
  8. BEYOND A JOKE    4:50
  9. LAST COUPLE ON THE DANCE FLOOR    3:04
  10. ANNIVERSARY    3:03
  11. (TOO LATE) THE SMART BOMB    3:32

    CD reissue bonus tracks
  12. *I WANT YOU BACK (LIVE)
  13. YOU HIT THE SPOT (LIVE)
  14. (TOO LATE) THE SMART BOMB (EXTENDED DANCE MIX)

    Tracks 1-11 written by Graham Parker

CREDITS

GRAHAM PARKER -- lead and backing vocals, blue and hollow guitars
KEVIN JENKINS -- bass
GILSON LAVIS -- drums
BRINSLEY SCHWARZ -- orange and back guitars
GEORGE SMALL -- keyboards
Mel Collins -- saxophones
Andy Ebsworth -- Linn drum programming
Sarah Larson -- violin
Morris Pert -- percussion
Michael Halsband -- photography
Ben Kelly -- layout

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK/GER 1983 RCA LP PL25465 picture sleeve
US/CAN July 1983 Arista LP AL8-8023 picture sleeve
YUG 1983 Jugoton LP LSRCA11061  
US 1985 Arista LP/CS AL6/ACB6-8352  
US 1994 Razor & Tie CDX RE1983 w. one bonus track (*)
WW October 18, 2004 Cherry Red CDX CDLEM046 digital remaster w. bonus tracks

 

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