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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sparks Revival

posted by on May 17 at 13:07 PM

Other than the vociferous rock Cicadas bestowed upon me at their last show on Thursday, they also introduced me to the band Sparks. This was one of those, “How had I never heard of these guys?” moments; despite my love for 70s prog Sparks had slipped under my radar. This introduction was followed strangely enough (or not) by an Idolator post yesterday about the band and how they will be performing their 21 albums over the course of 21 nights at Shepherds Bush Empire, starting last night. The final night will showcase a new release from the band Exotic Creatures of the Deep. 1974’s Kimono My House was their breakthrough, with the single “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of Us” reaching #2 on the charts. Though their sound in this era fits somewhere between Queen and Yes this live performance is from a disco program, so, not surprisingly, no on in the audience seems to give a fuck about what they are doing. This song slays.

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It's not just the virtuosity that makes Sparks so inspiring, it's the depth of music styles that they've shown such a deft mastery of. 70's era Sparks is undoubtedly one of my favorites, but their electronic stuff is not to be overlooked.

Their music only seems more relevant as the years go by.

Posted by godsactionfigure | May 17, 2008 4:44 PM

We've been having Sparks fever all year long at Sonic Boom. Last Sunday, we played nothing but Sparks all day long, dubbing the day Sparks Sunday. Arthur's latest issue has a nice interview/feature with Sparks, and the complete discography in review. Sparks fever is here!

Dirtbombs do two Sparks covers on their newest 7". "Sherlock Holmes" and "Nothing to Do."

Also: You must hear Angst In My Pants and No. 1 in Heaven. Two essentials from their storied career.

Youtube their SNL performance from 1982.

Let us enlighten you!

Lastly, I wish I could be in London.

Posted by Tree Face | May 17, 2008 5:39 PM

I heart Sparks, but I never thought of them as a prog band, that what they are?

Posted by Abby | May 18, 2008 11:14 AM

No, on the whole they're not a prog band, but the song I posted definitely has some prog flavoring to it. The rest of Kimono My House musically follows closer down the Queen road than the Yes one, but the singer's got a Jon Anderson/Geddy Lee falsetto going that makes it hard not to draw prog comparisons.

Posted by Jeff Kirby | May 18, 2008 12:22 PM

Yeah. I just never listened to much prog, so I came to Sparks from a different perspective and never made those connections. They actually never really had a genre in my head. Just a fantastic pop band.

I have a great version of This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us with Faith No More.

Posted by Abby | May 18, 2008 1:57 PM

sparks does not = prog. EVER!

they are far to clever by half and then some to ever be prog.

you should try to find Big Beat and Introducing. those albums have never been released on CD. and both are unknown gems!

it seems like every year i introduce someone to sparks, and every year i hear the same thing.


so happy there's another convert!

Posted by terry miller | May 18, 2008 8:24 PM

I never heard of Sparks until a few years ago, when I got the Morrissey "Under the Influence" CD (where he picks a bunch of songs for a CD...lots of other artists have made them, too) and they had a song on it. I immediately went out and got a bunch of their other stuff and love it all...danceable and interesting and funny (Young girls?!?!?!).

I should also mention I was introduced to the fantastic Ludus from this CD. And Twinkle from some Morrissey, he's got goooood taste!

Posted by abomb | May 18, 2008 9:48 PM


Big Beat got reissued on CD in 2006, and Introducing Sparks got reissued on CD in 2007.

Neither are close to being their best albums, but both have their moments.

You guys can watch live audio streams of each of the London shows, btw. It's not really hi-fi, but you gotsta take what you can get. Each show starts 1pm PST.

Posted by mackro mackro | May 19, 2008 9:25 AM

Without a doubt, one of my favorite albums by them is 1999's "Plagiarism". It's similar to Kraftwerk's "The mix" in the fact that it's electronic remixes of their best material. Housey- beats with string sections. Timeless!

Posted by godsactionfigure | May 19, 2008 10:57 AM

You know they're doing a concernt series right now where they're playing all 21 albums in 21 days?

Totally awesome.

Posted by tallchris | May 19, 2008 12:51 PM

I'd like to toss my two cents in here and recommend that people track down "Whomp That Sucker" which came out in between "No. 1 in Heaven" and "Angst in my Pants." It's got some real burners on it.

But yeah, "No. 1 in Heaven" is No. 1. Although the little run of albums from "Kimono My House" through "Indiscreet" are tops. Plus "Indiscreet" has the song "Tits" which blows my mind every time i hear it.

Posted by Eli | May 19, 2008 2:48 PM

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