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Introducing Sparks: Special Edition (Ron)

Sparks Audio CD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: £19.98
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Biography

Sparks - short biog

The artists who would come to be known for posterity as Sparks commenced inventing their often-copied, seldom-equaled brand of music back around 1970, when pop was young and brash and the Southern California airwaves awash with a contingent of post-British invasion inspirations like The Kinks, Barretts Floyd, and The Seeds. The purchase of countless shiny-sleeved ... Read more in Amazon's Sparks Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Introducing Sparks: Special Edition (Ron) + Big Beat + Whomp That Sucker
Price For All Three: £35.41

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Product details

  • Audio CD (5 Nov 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Absolute Marketing
  • ASIN: B000WM4UFM
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 377,682 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. A Big Surprise 3:43£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Occupation 5:14£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Ladies 3:06£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. I'm Not 3:26£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Forever Young 3:25£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Goofing Off 4:25£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Girls on the Brain 3:39£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Over the Summer 3:48£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Those Mysteries 5:02£0.99  Buy MP3 


Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

Sparks’ position in the annals of musical history will be defined by two traits: their trio of ‘British’ albums from the early 70s, and their ever changing approach to music--from glam-rock to synth-pop to dance to jazz, they’ve covered all bases. This release of their seventh album from 1977--on CD for the first time--takes in both aspects of this legacy. As part of the lesser-known ‘second trilogy’ Introducing Sparks is as musically removed from the proto-punk of predecessor "Big Beat" as it is from the pioneering disco of the Moroder-collaboration "Number One in Heaven" that followed. Instead, the album offers the sort of subversive but radio-friendly rock that Steely Dan were mastering around the same time, but laced with typical Sparks humour; surely no-one else could include both Joan of Arc and Eva Braun in "Ladies", a paean to girls everywhere? Thanks to Russell Mael’s trademark vocals, the sound may be unmistakably Sparks, but wrapped in Beach Boys-esque harmonies (as displayed on "A Big Surprise" and "Over the Summer"), the T-Rex boogie of "Girls on the Brain" or "Goofing Off's" Eastern-European folk, it’s a further display of their chameleon-like musical approach. Introducing Sparks is a welcome addition to Sparks’ already-wonderful CD catalogue. --Thomas Allott

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So-so album, terrible remaster from a vinyl LP. 15 Jun 2010
Format:Audio CD
It gets one star, not for the music but for the remastering. The CD has been remastered from a vinyl LP and not the original studio master tapes Sony has in their vaults. What's really unfortunate are the two outtakes that were also included in the Sony vaults, which are said to be titled 'Kidnapped' and 'Keep Me', remain unheard in their studio form. It should be noted that a demo version of 'Kidnap' (sic?) was included on one of the briefly available Japanese reissues from a couple of years ago, but that Japanese SHM-CD was the same lame vinyl transfer of the original album, complete with flaws and glitches. So what's the point?

Introducing Sparks often gets a bad wrap for being a bad album, but it's not. It's just not up to the standards of the famous Island records trilogy. Sparks were running low on ideas by this point, but some of the songs do work well, but just barely.
'Occupation' is a nagging little song that lists a multitude of occupations one can achieve, even ending the song with an A-Z list. The "La, la, an occupation for you hoo..." chorus borders on the highly catchy to insanely annoying. There is also a music video for this song, and it was just what I hoped it would be; Russell portraying many of the occupations he is singing about. It's 70's cheese at its finest...
'Ladies' was a song that escaped me for years as nothing more than a cornball novelty. Now I view it as essential listening..., as a cornball novelty.
'Over the Summer' is the failed single, but it shouldn't have been. It's very catchy in a sort of Beach Boys manner, and is one of the strongest songs in the set.
'Goofing Off' is another that borders the stupid/catchy bridge, but the catchy side wins out.

Some songs do not succeed though.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Here in Heaven? 3 Nov 2007
Format:Audio CD
It's 30 years since this album was released on vinyl and it remained the only Sparks release never to have been officially released on CD until now.

God knows what fans of recent releases will make of this. It was quite a shock hearing this back in 1977. The hits in the UK had dried up and the 1976 release of 'Big Beat' was a major change in style producing a more garage sound than anything that had been released earlier. It wasn't a commercial success and the production by Rupert Holmes wasn't the greatest. It grew on me but at the time I was a die hard Sparks fanatic looking for the next piece of inspiration but 'Big Beat' was a patchy affair when you consider how inventive they had been on the three previous releases. It's an album that even divides Sparks fans.

The Maels had relocated back to the US and the second instalment was 'Introducing Sparks' on CBS records. It was Sparks' first real attempt to crack the big time in the USA. Utilising expensive session musicians and sounding like the Beach Boys against the prevailing punk scene in the UK this sounded so damn wierd. The opening track ' A Big Surprise' was the most straightforward song on the album. It was pleasant enough but lacked the wit and inventiveness of their UK hit singles. God knows why it was chosen as a single as the 'B' side 'Forever Young' was more upbeat. I couldn't help feeling that the Sparks I had grown fanatical about had somewhat lost the plot in their attempts to gain widespread acceptance. 'Ladies' is a pleasant enough song with clever wordplay that Sparks have used to good effect in many of their compositions over the years. My personal faourites are 'Occupation', 'Goofing Off' and the ballad and final track 'Those Mysteries'.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparks' finest moment 14 Aug 2009
Format:Audio CD
Weak album? Well, I bought it at a sale some 30 years ago and quickly played it to smithereens (forcing me to buy a second copy). It's got a playful, unpretentious quality, and lots of equally contagious and quirky pop-tunes. I made my own LP-to-CD transfer years ago - great it's finally out on CD (bought it the other minute)!

I've never understood what the criticism was about. This is a humourous look on life, in a musically very varied and melodious setting. To be justly compared with such acts as Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers of the late 70s/early 80s with all of their charming naiveté, or the Steely Dan of the mid-70s, before that group got their creative talents drowned in their search for the perfect sound. Or the odd but very catchy neo-punk attitude of French les Rita Mitsouko - remember, Sparks and "Rita" collaborated around 1990.

Now a new generation of listeners can discover what Joan of Arc and Eva Braun have in common, the up-tempo, cheeky "I'm Not", the brilliant Beach Boys pastiche "Over the Summer" and all the melancholy of "Those Mysteries". Plus the rest - it's a very varied song collection and a should be a must for anyone enjoying Sparks, old and new. And to me, it beats "Kimono My House" any day. That landmark from 1974 had its highs and lows, the lows of which I cannot find here. Enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best Sparks Album ever....so far 30 May 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Like a lot of people I kinda 'gave up' on Sparks after Big Beat, but for some reason decided to carry on where I'd left off back in 'the day' and buy the Sparks' albums in order. This was the first one & boy, what a good decision it turned out to be. This album is nothing short of amazing from beginning to end. Its' probably a bit more commercial than previous efforts, but without losing any of the quirkiness which first turned me on to the Maels.

Every track is amazing - the first 'Big Surprise' is so damned catchy I find myself humming it continuously 'I want a big surprise tonight, a really big surprise tonight'. 'Occupation' has got the funniest lyrics of any song I've ever heard, honestly - it concerns Russell examing the pro's & con's of certain occupations - cowboy, doctor, pilot - take doctor as an example - 'we doctors are important men, we make you feel well again, you open wide and we look in, and throw in several aspirin' - hilarious lyrics married to another perfect pop melody. Before you catch your breath were in to 'Ladies' - again more amazingly funny lyrics, this time concerning Russell in his house with lots of famous ladies - Dolly Partons in the pool, for example - the part where his wife comes up the drive and he's got to hide all his ladies is side splitting. Things 'toughen up and get a bit heavier on the next couple of tracks 'I'm Not' and 'Forever Young' (not THAT one), but neither track is any less memorable. 'Goofing Off' starts off like 'Zorba the Greek' and probably sums up the Sparks sound as good as any other song on any of their albums I've heard. 'Girls On The Brain' has got a slightly heavier/bluesy sort of vibe, but still contains the trademark Sparks sound.
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