Post by Sheriff John Stone on Jul 14, 2021 22:33:01 GMT
The above photos are the album covers, yes, plural, for Sparks' 1977 album, Introducing Sparks. Ron Mael (on the left) was on the front cover and his brother, Ronald, was on the back cover. Or, was it the other way around? There was no designation which was the front cover and the back cover. You could make your own choice. Oh, and I guess I should mention that Introducing Sparks was the band's seventh album and they were around since 1970.
But, that's Sparks. A wild, wacky, and wonderful band. Actually, in reality, Sparks isn't really a band at all. Yes, there were periods of time, usually short periods of time, when Sparks had consistent band members. For most of their career, Sparks consisted of the brothers Mael, Ron and Russ, either with session musicians or just the brothers themselves in the studio. Ronald (born 8/12/45) plays keyboards and writes most (almost all) of the music. Russell (born 10/5/48) is the lead singer and also contributes to the music and lyrics. Over the course of 50 years they released 25 studio albums. They toured but only sporadically and in many configurations. Sparks had a few hit albums and a few hit singles. They produced many videos and appeared on MTV quite a bit in the 1980s. However, sadly, they always remained a kind of cult band. They weren't always treated positively by the critics, but they were usually praised by other artists, and they always had a loyal fan base.
It's difficult to describe Sparks' musical style because there were so many. Ron especially was always experimenting with a new sound. They have been described as a combination of The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd, and, yes, The Beach Boys. Not too shabby. For this opening post, I contemplated doing a career review or a history of Sparks, but that was too daunting. I decided to do a number of posts, each one highlighting what I consider to be Sparks' eras or periods. Any opinions or input is certainly welcomed. I think it'll be a lot of fun. Sparks' music - and Ron and Russ Mael - can be a lot of fun.
For this initial post, I wanted to include a Sparks sampler that I compiled. I use it as a quick "Sparks fix", or to burn to CD when I'm trying to recruit new fans. I also want to emphasize that it is just a sampler, or some on my personal favorite Sparks' tracks (I am partial to the earlier music). Again, with 25 albums utilizing so many music styles spread out over 50 years, it is almost impossible to compile a definitive Best Of Sparks. I recently went on the internet to explore as many "Sparks' Best Songs" entries as I could find. What I found was that they are all significantly different. Yes, a few songs make most of the lists, but the opinions are all over the place. I like that, and I'm sure Ron and Russ like that, too. Maybe you can explore some of these on YouTube, Spotify, or itunes...
01 Talent Is An Asset - from Kimono My House (1974)
02 Thanks But No Thanks - from Propaganda (1974)
03 Moon Over Kentucky - from A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing (1973)
04 That's Not Nastassia - from Whomp That Sucker (1981)
05 Nicotina - from Angst In My Pants (1982)
06 Hasta Manana, Monsieur - from Kimono My House (1974)
07 Hospitality On Parade - from Indiscreet (1975)
08 Get In The Swing - from Indiscreet (1975)
09 Goofing Off - from Introducing Sparks (1977)
10 Eaten By The Monster Of Love - from Angst In My Pants (1982)
11 Don't Leave Me Alone With Her - from Propaganda (1974)
12 Sherlock Holmes - from Angst In My Pants (1982)
13 Propaganda - from Propaganda (1974)
14 At Home, At Work, At Play - from Propaganda (1974)15 Cool Places (With Jane Wiedlin) - from Sparks In Outer Space (1983)
16 Popularity - from Sparks In Outer Space (1983)
17 This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us - from Kimono My House (1974)
18 Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth - from Propaganda (1974)
19 When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way' - from Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins (1994)
20 Perfume - from Hello Young Lovers (2006)
21 Something For The Girl With Everything (with Faith No More) - from Plagiarism (1997)
22 How Are You Getting Home - from Indiscreet (1975)
And, finally, to jump start the thread, here is a live performance of "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" from 1974: