Graham Parker squeezes out more sparks

Graham Parker's "Imaginary Television"

Graham Parker – Imaginary Television
(Bloodshot Records)

By John M. Borack

“What if…I wrote my own treatments for TV shows — situation comedies for the most part — and then wrote the theme tunes to go with them?  The only person who could reject them would be me, and that wasn’t likely to happen because they’d be so bloody good,” Graham Parker halfway jokes on his website, referring to the songs that comprise the wonderful Imaginary Television.  Parker apparently came up with this winner of an idea after having his tunes “See Things My Way” and “Always Greener” (both included here) rejected as TV show theme placements by a publishing company.  Television’s loss is certainly GP’s fans’ gain, as Imaginary Television is one of the most consistently impressive discs he has fashioned in quite some time.

The 11-track effort features Parker’s typically bemused and acerbic lyrical observations sung in his uniquely soulful voice, which has taken on an appealing rasp in some spots.  Perhaps due to the fact that these songs were written with the TV theme mindset, only two of them clock in at over four minutes and every tune is straightforward, poppy and memorable.  The biting “Weather Report” (“I have chains around my ankles that are made out of spaghetti/my newspaper’s shredded into so much confetti”), the torchy “Bring Me a Heart Again” and a cover of Johnny Nash’s 1972 UK hit, the reggaefied “More Questions Than Answers,” are all classic Parker and just a few of the highlights strewn across Imaginary Television.   Also worthy of special mention are the ridiculously catchy “Always Greener” and the disc-closing “1st Responder,” which features a touch of the soulful swing present in Parker standards such as “Heat Treatment.”  In addition to the superb batch of tunes, Parker’s TV show synopses (included in the CD booklet) for each song are hilarious and an entertaining read.  The sound of an angry young man aging gracefully has never been better.


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