Graham Parker and Bruce Springsteen emerged roughly at the same time, and both drew on the same inspirations (Van Morrison, '60s soul/rhythm & blues, lean rock 'n' roll). Critics raved about both, but the Boss got the airplay and Parker didn't. Imaginary Television is Parker's 20th album, and while it's no major departure from his past two or three, he isn't coasting on his past. He's still making acid-tongued, droll observations on the shallow and phony in contemporary life. He's still got a knack with a spirited melodic hook — try to get the tart "Weather Report" or the reggae-flavored "See Things My Way" out of your head after one or two spins — and when life gives you lemons until you want to vomit lemonade, listen to "It's My Party (But I Won't Cry)" for a mug of fortifying tenacity tonic. After more than 30 years in the biz, GP still has the right stuff. — Mark Keresman
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