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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Maturation of an Artist
Long considered by MOST GP fans as one of the three best albums done by him (along with "Squeezing Out Sparks", 1979's Rolling Stone Critic's pick for album of the year and 1996's "Acid Bubblegum", his last studio effort), "The Mona Lisa's Sister" signalled the arrival of GP as a truly independant artist as well as the resurgence (in...
Published on September 14, 2000 by Barry Ellis

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3.0 out of 5 stars Who is Mona Lisa's Sister?
The angry young man, Graham Parker, doesn't appear all that angry on The Mona Lisa's Sister. With Motown style songs like `I'm Just Your Man,' `Blue Highways,' `Success,' and `Cupid,' I'd call Graham a soulful young man. He gets so close to genuine Motown that you can imagine Smoky Robinson singing "I'm not a burnin' comet that fell out of the sky" (I'm Just Your Man)...
Published on April 29, 2000 by dev1


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Maturation of an Artist, September 14, 2000
By 
Barry Ellis (Pittsburgh, PA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mona Lisa's Sister (Audio CD)
Long considered by MOST GP fans as one of the three best albums done by him (along with "Squeezing Out Sparks", 1979's Rolling Stone Critic's pick for album of the year and 1996's "Acid Bubblegum", his last studio effort), "The Mona Lisa's Sister" signalled the arrival of GP as a truly independant artist as well as the resurgence (in quality at least) of a somewhat moribound career. While his loyal fans enjoyed his work of the early-mid 80's, it did seem as his sense of direction and earlier commitment to his music was somewhat lacking. "Mona Lisa" was GP's first TOTALLY personal record and established the pattern he was to follow for the rest of his career, making records that make HIM happy and all of his fans have benefitted from that artistic genesis. "Mona Lisa" includes some of his absolute greatest songs, and every song is an heartfelt and riveting performance. Some reviewers have quibbled with Buddha's remastering here, but I thank it really does a lot for the lower end which was somewhat subdued on the earlier production. A matter of taste, but a truly wonderful record regardless of which mix you prefer. As readers of GP's website (found at punkhart.com) know, it is a mystery when or if GP is going to release a new studio album. Myriad label changes and a refusal to subvert his musical philosophy have led to diminished sales and recognition over the years. I consider GP to be in the same league as Van Morrison and Bob Dylan as a song writer/performer. Unbelievers only need to peruse his work of the past 20 plus years and they MIGHT be converted, or at least acknowledge that GP is one of the most underrated and underappreciated artists of his time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parker Delivers Listenable Angst, June 25, 1998
This review is from: Mona Lisa's Sister (Audio CD)
I've long considered Graham Parker part of my "little, p*****-off British guy" phase, during which I listened to a lot of Elvis Costello and related artists. Parker is a cynic, without a doubt, but the heart of a true romantic still beats in his chest. Like Costello, who does not allow his varnish of world-weary cynicism to obliterate his soft side, Parker goes from sharp-tongued social criticism to whistful longing at times in the same breath. All without forgetting how to craft a good solid melody, which makes for music you can listen to even if you're not particularly interested in what it has to say.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great album, August 16, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Mona Lisa's Sister (Audio CD)
Contrary to the previous reviewer, this WAS my introduction to GP on album. It's a fine recording. I can't tell you the impact it had. My favorite GP song of all time is on this - "Back In Time"
So why only four stars? Because I don't care too much for the remastering job here. The bass has been brought forward, and it sounds like there's some echo on the voice too. Mind you, the extra track is worth the price of admission.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hightlight of his career, October 24, 1999
This review is from: The Mona Lisa's Sister (Audio CD)
This disc is the highlight of his career, because it was here that he took charge of production and made the record he wanted to make. The songs come out easily with wit and grace. Back In Time and I'm Just Your Man are probably my favorite GP compositions. And the re-make of Cupid is done convincingly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars doesn`t start a fire, March 7, 2000
This review is from: Mona Lisa's Sister (Audio CD)
This was Parker going from pretty indifferent `mellow` music to the heights he attained with Struck by Lightning a coupla years after this. As usual there are some classics which soon as you hear them you think they`ve been around forever: Back in time,I`m Just Your Man and Success,but there are some songs that are in moulds Parker keeps on trying but has never pulled off. Example,Under the Mask of Happiness which is kinda `Southern Rock` which English rockers can never pull off--it`s from the Rolling Stones and all they `way down New orleans` fixations-- Then there is a song about Heironymous Bosch, a painter..puh-leeze! Mr Parker can not do `arty/intellectual` themes! And there`s a problem with the opener,which sounds like Neil Diamond trying to rock out. You feel in this record a low-watt glow of laidback,soft rock rather than Parker`s usual heated style. But the stand outs are worth it,and Blue Highways and Girl Isn`t Ready help the variation here (reggae and an acoustic Sprinsteen vibe respectively) while one song I Don`t Know is virtually a little education in rock; Buddly Holly meets Elvis vocal with an African guitar riff running through it as well as an `African-sounding` choral background. The result works brilliantly and is inspired. Not a disappointing album by all means...but just one that was a holding operation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably GP's best of the '80's, June 25, 2000
By 
J. Powell (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Mona Lisa's Sister (Audio CD)
After Squeezing Out Sparks, GP released his last album with the Rumour "The Up Escalator" (now out of print) in 1980 and spent most of the 80's putting out very uneven albums, hitting rock bottom with "Steady Nerves"
But in 1988, he turned things around and released this brilliant album.
This is almost as good as GP's golden era (1976-79) - not quite, but almost. "Back In Time" may be the most poetic song he has ever written, though. It epitomizes the music of GP - cynical but beautiful.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Who is Mona Lisa's Sister?, April 29, 2000
By 
dev1 (Baltimore) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mona Lisa's Sister (Audio CD)
The angry young man, Graham Parker, doesn't appear all that angry on The Mona Lisa's Sister. With Motown style songs like `I'm Just Your Man,' `Blue Highways,' `Success,' and `Cupid,' I'd call Graham a soulful young man. He gets so close to genuine Motown that you can imagine Smoky Robinson singing "I'm not a burnin' comet that fell out of the sky" (I'm Just Your Man). `Get Started Start A Fire' contains some funky bass lines, and `The Girl Isn't Ready' is a competent Reggae. There are a couple straight-up rockers here including the sizzling `Don't Let It Break You Down' and `OK Hieronymus.'
While you're singing along with Graham like a member of a Doo-Wop back-up group, you'll probably notice that the lyrics aren't exactly `I love my baby" R&B stuff. Kids are beating-up old people on `Don't Let It Break You Down,' and I'm not certain who Hieronymus (OK Hieronymus) is, but with lyrics like "Just taste the odor of burning skin,' I doubt that I'd like to meet him. Parker is best when he's cynical: Joan of Arc is burned at the stake for lighting a cigarette in an airport (Get Started Light A Fire). Maybe "angry" is a poor choice of words. Parker is disenchanted with love "I don't know why it's not enough to feel moments of mighty love" (I Don't Know), and also frustrated that he has never been a stadium sellout (Success). He has one minor bad trait: stuffing some lines with just too many words (Back In Time, OK Hieronymus).
I've tried to find one stinker, one throw-a way on this CD, but there isn't one. The combination of spirited R&B music and caustic lyrics works successfully on The Mona Lisa's Sister.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Starting Over on a New Label, August 2, 2002
This review is from: The Mona Lisa's Sister (Audio CD)
I happen to think the album that preceded this, Steady Nerves, was one of his all-time best. I only learned recently that following Steady Nerves he signed to Atlantic, but no album was released. Thus, this RCA debut arrived three years later. It's a lot more acoustic than earlier efforts, certainly a more mature, lower-key performance that is almost Dylanesque. While this new direction was no doubt a welcome facet in Parker's artistic maturation, it may have made RCA label heads wonder if they got what they had signed -- after all, this was a different sound. It set the pace for the albums that followed, which were increasingly well-produced and very folksy-acoustic, none achieving the commercial success of his earlier efforts with the Rumour and the Shot. Still, the grandeur of such songs as "Success," "Get Started (Start a Fire)," "Don't Let it Break You Down" and "Girl Isn't Ready" makes this a keeper. One wonders if including "Ordinary Girl" on the original release might have resulted in a more commercially successful hit that could have helped propel the album up the charts.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Graham's Personal La Jokeconde Relative, November 10, 2010
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This review is from: The Mona Lisa's Sister (Audio CD)
People. Yes I'm back. Did you really think I'd go away after Amazon took away my credit card? No chance. However, even I will admit that it took ALL of my power and my excellent smokey backroom negotiation skills to appear before you once again. You see? I still have the firm mission of saving humanity from itself. Selfless, I know. However, all do not appreciate my fine efforts. One time a heckler at one of my lectures asked who's going to save me from me. Then he threw a shoe which just missed my Seer's hat. The authorities wanted to arrest him, however I convinced them not to and hired him as my personal bodyguard. I cannot begin to tell you how many people are walking around today with a permanent heel mark on their forehead. See how things work out?

Anyway, I am here to review Graham Parkers offering called "The Mona Lisa's Sister". I don't know what to tell you. This selection makes me feel like a cross between Humphrey Bogart in "The Treasure of Sierra Madre" and Leslie Howard in "The Petrified Forest". The perfect mix of trepidation and paranoia for all the conflicted. But, this is just a part of what you get when you sign on to experience Mr. Parker's world. Cynical, sly, acerbic, revealing. But there is much more to the total package. He is always looking for the hook that will expose society's joke illusions that many in life are unaware of. He questions the meaning of love, what true happiness consists of, and the enigma of bubble barricades that prevent us from, well, being us. Mr. Parker never accepts things at face value, and in doing so, makes us travel new roads of lyrical meaning and an enjoyable musical ride.

The music here runs the gamut of rock/pop, reggae, folk with memorable hooks that make an impression from the very first listen. From the start, he gives you fair warning. With "Don't Let it Break You Down" he implores you to build up a resistence to all the depressing incidents that invade your life. The next jaunty tune, "Under the Mask of Happiness" exposes the illusion of a relationship. What is the true essence of happiness? Can beliefs deceive you - and others? Are we all wandering in the petrified forest? Don't include me. I've cut the trees down on my property long ago.

Another topic he writes about is the useless excursion we all make looking back at the past. The depressing realization that things never remain consistent. "But all the old news is like print stains across your mind, when you try to go back in time", from "Back In Time". Quirky chosen topics like Hieronymus Bosch in "Ok Hieronymus" project how life is definitely a mix of heaven and hell. The theme of unhappiness and setting fire to it is never more evident than in "Get Started, Start a Fire". With Graham, you have to decipher the meanings, but he begs you to make sense of all the puzzle pieces he has given you. Appropriately, he doesn't give you the answers. He is just the messenger as envidenced by the classic song "Cupid".

In closing, this has been a favorite of mine for a long, long time. Graham, in his own way, trys to save humanity. So we both are on the same page in this regard. If you notice, as testimony to just how clever this man is, the Mona Lisa's sister cover is a hidden self-portait of Graham. A definite take off of the theory Leonardo hid his face in the Mona Lisa. Leave it to me to discover such things!
Get this - great album!

sincerely, Humphrey Howard (Metamorpho ;))
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5.0 out of 5 stars Parker at his finest, November 7, 2013
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This review is from: The Mona Lisa's Sister (Audio CD)
Graham Parker at his finest. Surprisingly upbeat for the social commentary of the lyrics. If you like Parker, it is a must have. If you have never listened to him, this is, in my opinion, his best work, so I would start with this album. It will not disappoint.
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The Mona Lisa's Sister
The Mona Lisa's Sister by Graham Parker (Audio CD - 1999)
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