Rolling Stone (11/89) - 4 Stars - Excellent - Ranked #97 in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Albums Of The Eighties" survey.
Personnel: Graham Parker (vocals, guitar); Brinsley Schwarz (guitar, percussion, background vocals); James Hallawell (keyboards); Andrew Bodnar (bass); Terry Williams, Pete Thomas, Andy Duncan (drums); Christie Chapman (background vocals).
Recorded at Lansdowne Studios, London. Includes liner notes by Graham Parker.
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
THE MONA LISA'S SISTER marks both a creative and commercial resurgence for the vituperative Parker. After a series of middling albums, Parker got his feisty self back into fighting form and got down to recording an album that packs the punch of his best earlier work.
Parker achieved success here by stripping away all unnecessary accompaniment. That his strongest work in years was also his most quiet is not mere coincidence. Parker realized he wasn't the angry young man he was back in 1976 and avoided trying to recreate bluster that he didn't feel. Though the iron-willed determination is still firmly in place ("Don't Let it Break You Down" and "Get Started. Start a Fire"), Parker's not jumping up and down quite so loudly about it anymore. Despite the fact that the acoustic-flavored album leans toward atypically contemplative fare ("Blue Highway" and "Success"), Parker certainly hasn't retired to the easy chair. Certainly, the murderous "Under the Mask of Happiness" and grisly "OK Hieronymus" will whet the appetites of those longing for the singer's legendary fury. But alas, the fury takes a back seat nowadays as Parker finishes with a straight reading of Sam Cooke's gentle "Cupid."