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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He's electric!
In 1996 Mark Linkous (the man behind Sparklhorse) caused serious injury to himself by way of electrocution, although this didn't prevent him from appearing at that years Reading festival in a wheel chair, or producing on of the most innovative albums of that year. This album continues where Vivadixie..., Good Morning Spider, and Distorted Ghost Ep left off, and does not...
Published on 11 Jun 2001 by edhancox@lineone.net

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Stabinthe dark.
I bought this for the title track after hearing it in the film "Delicacy". Of course, it didn't have the same impact in audio as it did in the film. I also bought a Mazzy Starr album after hearing it in an Amsterdam coffee shop...same thing. I guess you had to be there.
Published 5 months ago by noahs dad


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He's electric!, 11 Jun 2001
This review is from: It's A Wonderful Life (Audio CD)
In 1996 Mark Linkous (the man behind Sparklhorse) caused serious injury to himself by way of electrocution, although this didn't prevent him from appearing at that years Reading festival in a wheel chair, or producing on of the most innovative albums of that year. This album continues where Vivadixie..., Good Morning Spider, and Distorted Ghost Ep left off, and does not disappoint.
Initially Sparklehorse were championed by REM frontman Michael Stipe, but have sinced been joined by a futher number of celebrity bandwagon-jumpers. Heard here are PJ Harvey, Tom Waits and Nina Persson (Cardigans) and John Parish. Its A Wonderful Life sounds fantastic, Marks voice is perhaps more distinct, and you get swept along in a torent of crazy lyrics ("Circus People with hairy little hands!"), lush string arrangements, Lo-Fi style techniques, and a sense of melancholy.
If you like Eels, Grandaddy, and the like, this is definately worth investigating...
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a wonderful album!, 14 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: It's A Wonderful Life (Audio CD)
Forget about the hype surrounding the new releases from Radiohead and REM (impressive as they are): the summer's must have album comes from a little known band by the name of Sparklehorse.
Sparklehorse are not really a band as such. They are, essentially, singer/songwriter Mark Linkous & Friends making music that by turns feels drowsy and intensely awake. Sadly, they have always been overlooked.
Until now that is. Cue a little help on album number three from Linkous' friends - Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Nina Persson, Dave Fridmann - and Sparklehorse may yet be rescued from obscurity.
This album is a curious blend of country and rock. The trademark growl of Waits on the thumpy Dog Door, and Harvey's static-electric vocals on the radio-friendly Piano Fire, are obvious highlights.
Polly Harvey shows again on Eyepennies - a gorgeous piano melody. The blaring King of Nails is in contrast to its predecessor, Apple Bed, in which Linkous sings sadistically like a man possessed.
Linkous' dark, poetic lyrics and unmistakable sound have earned Sparklehorse lots of friends in the music industry. It can only be a matter of time before the record-buying public click on.
If any band deserves attention, it's Sparklehorse. A fragile genius, mainman Linkous has created an album like no other this year. On those grounds alone you should add it to your collection.
Gary Flockhart, Scotland Online
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More heartbreakingly beautiful broadcasts from Linkous & Co, 12 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: It's A Wonderful Life (Audio CD)
Sparklehorse return after a long hiatus following 1998's classic 'Good Morning Spider', an album which forever cemented their reputation as the frazzled kings of Alt Country and assured their place in the hearts of the lo-fi nation. While this new joint ain't really that much of a departure from the previous two records, the mood is certainly more relaxed and optimistic - avoiding the intense, almost opressive aura of before. This probably has a lot to do with Linkous being clean for the recording, the opening and closing lullabies of 'Its a Wonderful Life' and 'Babies on the Sun' recall the parallel approach of 'vivadixie...', capturing the melancholy sensibility and pathos of before but with more pronounced hope. Elsewhere on the album Linkous introduces a host of collaborators into the fray with the likes of Nina Perrson (Cardigans), PJ Harvey, and Tom Waits contributing vocals and in Waits case (on the neurotic, beck-like 'Dog Door') co-writing credits. If you are expecting a change of musical direction from Linkous on this record, you will be disappointed, however if you are still spellbound by the lush melancholy, fractured melody, and the vuneranable, heartbreaking, yet inevitably joyful tracts of Linkous' lyrical spells, or if you are curious and willing to sample something a bit leftfield of the established indie/alternative axis, then lap it up and feel the pain (birds).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, 10 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: It's A Wonderful Life (Audio CD)
I went out on a limb and bought this based on great reviews and mentions of Mercury Rev (Dave Fridmann production) influences. I was rewarded, it's sensational but more Neil Young (More Yellow Birds) than the Rev (Gold Day). Gold Day is wonderful, Piano Fire is a favourite and would make a great single. Apple Bed and Eyepennies are the choice ballads.
Melancholic but inspiring. You can really lose yourself in this. I give four stars as I have heard better albums, just not that many. I'm off to catch up and get hold of Linkous' back catalogue.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparkleawesome, 12 July 2007
By 
I. Lehnert (Derby/Blackburn, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: It's A Wonderful Life (Audio CD)
Oddly enough, on a wet, dreary day wandering around Swansea University campus, Sparklehorse's third album (and personal favourite) seems optimistic, even happy. Slight contradiction really, as Mark Linkous has been repeatedly hailed as the best writer of moving, slow, and quiet, sad simple songs around. Also taking into account his random weird lyrics (I.e. "I'm the dog that ate your birthday cake", from this album's title track) and interesting song titles of course.

Even with the epic granduer that was Sparklehorse's most recent album 'Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain', it's still good to sink into reliable classics like `Sea Of Teeth' and `Gold Day', which go about their simple brilliance with hushed vocals, accompanied by even quieter strings and pianos. PJ Harvey adding her vocals to `Apple Bed' and `Piano Fire' amongst others is a great touch too. And `King Of Nails' still gets my vote for best possible single with it's whammy bar solo.

Considering its been 6 years since `It's A Wonderful Life' was released, it's a nice pleasure to work through Linkous' work and find plenty to keep you interested in his music. Musical retarded genius? Yeah, close enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Originality in rock at last - the price? Your happiness, 17 Aug 2001
This review is from: It's A Wonderful Life (Audio CD)
Mark Linkous has been acclaimed as one of the most innovative writers in rock at the moment, and, on the evidence of this lp, not without some merit. A unique sound and gift for melody makes the album stand out from the majority of coldplay-by-numbers slower rock bands on the scene, and the record is at times, quite thought provoking with its choice of production. Most notable, though, is the album's ability to convert any mood you might be in, to throat-slitting depression. The simple, melancholy beauty of songs like eyepennies, is admirable, even if the lo-fidelity sometimes grates. A slightly weaker start to the album, and a hint of repetition in the middle, notable songs 4, 5 and 7, are criticism that could fairly be levelled. However, any record this beautiful is certainly worth a listen. In short, music to jump off cliffs to, but with a precociously aesthetic melancholy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What can I say? Exceptional., 11 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: It's A Wonderful Life (Audio CD)
Being a big Sparklehorse fan, I was expecting this album to be excellent. I was certainly more than satisfied. What the listener can expect to hear is yet another eclectic mix of back-to-basics pop genius, namely in "Comfort Me" and "Apple Bed", but the lo-fi surrealism of "Gold day" and "Babies in the sun" may come as a bit of a shock. The Sparklehorse sound is pushed to it's limits, but that was the whole reason behind Mark Linkous' brilliance - he always knows just how far he can push the sound - how far he has to take it in order to achieve perfection. So, quelle surprise, this album is another wonderful LP. Other bands could do well to follow Linkous' example.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 22 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: It's A Wonderful Life (Audio CD)
I love this album. Beautiful songs, full of wonderful and magical imagery - such a twisted and genius song-writer. Genuinely unique and special, not many out there like that, and unfortunately, one less.

A must buy if you are a Sparklehorse fan!, and worth a try if you are not. It was my first album of theirs (his ?).

It kind of reminds me of the world that director who did Pans Labyrinth can take you, dark but mysterious, rich, meaningful and somehow real and dreamy at the same time.

'May all your days be gold my child' - Sparklehorse
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another incredible album!, 20 Jun 2001
By 
Richard W. Siegler "rws" (Davis, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: It's A Wonderful Life (Audio CD)
This ranges less than past Sparklehorse, but that just makes the stunning success of this record all the sweeter. On Good Morning Spider, if someone does not care for a song, there are songs of several other styles altogether they can listen to and still come away liking Sparklehorse. While this is no longer possible as this record is less schizophrenic than past recordings, the lush, happy, pop will not disappoint, so there's nothing to worry about. I have all three Sparklehorse albums, and this fits in well. If you don't own anything by Mark yet, perhaps you should purchase GMS first. Or buy them at the same time. If you just want to buy this one, listen to the poppier songs, say "Piano Fire," a few times in a row and imagine what you're in store for when you buy the other records.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Linkous Yet, 8 Jun 2001
By 
This review is from: It's A Wonderful Life (Audio CD)
"It's a Wonderful Life" is the best album yet by a band that was supposed to crash and burn years ago. This album is a revelation: The whole thing sounds timeless. This is the work of an enlightened man. "Eyepennies" is brilliant, shot into the atmosphere by PJ Harvey's flashes of vocal brilliance. Elsewhere, Linkous sounds like what I would imagine Elvis Costello would sound like now if he hadn't started becoming a cabaret act (not meant as a jab at the king, mind you, but you get the idea). All in all, anyone who feels that Radiohead's brand of machination is too cold but still enjoy the thrill of pushing the sound envelope should check out "It's a Wonderful Life"--life affirming without being trite, experimental without being alienating, and perfect from now on.
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