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Imaginary Television

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 16, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Inspired by the grossly lame themes used for sitcoms and television dramas, "Imaginary Television" is Graham Parker thinking outside of "the box," or maybe inside it. Parker created his own TV treatments, wrote the tunes to go along with them, and rocking ensued.

Review

... I went off to write treatments to my own
imaginary TV shows which I would grace with the
correct theme tunes, not ones chosen by idiots.
(Instead of lyrics on the album cover, you get plots!) --Graham Parker

MUST HEAR CD: It's a brilliant conceit, and one that's suited to Parker's strengths: a collection of would-be theme songs for elaborately absurd and thus perfectly plausible TV shows. Predictably, there's plenty of cheeky wit here, but also flecks of tenderness and pathos as the singer/songwriter evokes the desperation of characters who seem bizarre enough to be real --USA Today

The singer-songwriter shows he hasn't lost a lick. Imaginary Television is full of everything that great rock possesses: unforgetable melodies, lyrics that make us think and twitch, musicians who turn notes into inspiration and a voice we'll follow anywhere. Parker has all these and much, much more. He still has magic, and is full of new classics like Broken Skin and Bring Me a Heart Again which show the past 30 years have been lived wisely --Sonic Boomers
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 16, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Bloodshot Records
  • ASIN: B0036BDQA6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,073 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The ostensible premise behind Graham Parker's new studio release is that he created a batch of imaginary TV shows and then wrote the theme songs to accompany them. In the liner notes, he even provides a synopsis of each show rather than the song lyrics. It's an original, offbeat idea, befitting the witty Parker.

And it has absolutely nothing to do with the songs on this album. Not a damn thing. Yes, Imaginary Television is most certainly a concept album, but THAT isn't the concept. Rather than the collection of amusing novelty songs one might expect, Imaginary Television may be the most personal, vulnerable collection of songs Parker has ever released. It's a portrait of a man looking back over his life and re-evaluating everything, a man trying to come to grips with who he is---as an artist, a father, a husband, a human being.

Why the subterfuge? I suspect it's because some of these songs are so personal and cut so deeply for Parker that he felt he had to get a modicum of emotional distance from them before releasing them to the world. If I'm correct, then the entire television theme song concept is a mere fig leap to cover the emotional nakedness of the songs. Or, to borrow a phrase from the album itself, "a really cheap disguise."

And what songs they are. "Weather Report" concerns a man who feels out of step with the times; perhaps Parker's referring to his status as music industry outsider and this song is intended as his variation on John Lennon's "Watching the Wheels.
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Format: Audio CD
"Imaginary Television" is a worthy addition to Graham Parker's 30 + year catalog. While it's one of Parker's more mellow and laid-back efforts -- the great hooks, great melodies, great lyrics, and great singing are still here in abundance. It's a really cool album and every song is worthwhile, including a wonderful cover of the 1972 Johnny Nash classic "There Are More Questions Than Answers". There is also a concept to the album that some may find interesting and fun if they want to play along.

Graham Parker's first album was released in 1976. While Parker has never come close to achieving the commercial success he's deserved, few have released as many quality albums over such a pro-longed period of time. All the guy does is put out one fantastic album after another that so few are aware of. That's a shame.

One of the great philosophical riddles is: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Here's a riddle to rival that: "If Graham Parker has continually put out great album after great album after great album that so few hear, does that mean he isn't one of the all-time greats?"
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My first GP album was Howlin' Wind, back when it first came out. I have all his studio albums and the big part of his live albums. I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I am definitely a big fan and see no reason to change that view. But after the amazing Don't Tell Columbus, this album comes off as what would be filler on one of his better albums. They are not BAD songs, just consistently tepid. With all due respect to Squeezing Out Sparks and its deserved accolades, I really prefer the contemporary GP. I think he sounds better now, his production is miles ahead of those long ago days, his lyrics more provocative and creative. I wouldn't trade Deepcut to Nowhere or Don't Tell Columbus for any of his earlier albums. It's against his work of the last ten years that Imaginary Television fails to satisfy. No one bats a thousand, and I'll take lesser GP any day over most artists. I'm glad, though, that this isn't his last album. He keeps getting better, and I'm looking forward to that.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm amazed. Or rather, very impressed. For the past decade Graham Parker has been on a roll again, making some of the best music of his career. Yeah, that's a bold statement, considering the wealth of excellent albums he has recorded over the decades, but this recent album is further proof that the great Graham Parker is not rusting away or slithering off into mediocrity. Once again, he has delivered powerful songs with razor-sharp lyrics. Songs that make you think, laugh, cry, smile, and shout. I'm not going to list favorites, simply because my favorites keep changing each time I play this CD. They're all great. If you like Graham Parker and his music don't miss this album. Yes, it's short on minutes, but long on quality.
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Format: Audio CD
IMAGINARY TELEVISION, Graham Parker's 2010 C.D., is more pop and folksy than the more hard-driving R&B and rock music that first put the singer-songwriter on the musical map in the 1970s. But Parker is still rockin' for the working class and against the caste system. As if a recent C.D. title such as SONGS OF NO CONSEQUENCE were not enough of a hint that Parker would like to keep his fans guessing, its 16-page booklet presents IMAGINARY TELEVISION's eleven songs as though they are themes for television shows that don't exist.

Usually I would not write a review if previous comments either say everything I was thinking or, as is the case with Jeffrey Seeman's March 10, 2010, commentary, make keener observations than I do. But I like IMAGINARY TELEVISION so much I compose these thoughts to help promote it, especially since only seven people precede me here.

Seeman's review observes that Graham Parker only uses that T.V. show idea as a foot in the door for what are in reality autobiographical songs. So it's funny that in the age of so-called reality television, Graham Parker titles this record IMAGINARY TELEVISION. Not that I have seen more than a few reality programs, but much of what I've viewed strikes me as staged, between forced emotions and deceptive editing. But Graham Parker, pouring it all out (again, see the March 10, 2010, review), calls it imaginary.

When television host Bob Costas had his late night talk show on N.B.C. in the 1990s, he asked rock critic Dave Marsh why a recording artist such as Bruce Springsteen rose to great success in terms of record sales while one such as Graham Parker didn't.
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