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Reissue of Sparks second classic from 1974...
on 17 October 2006
Obviously `Kimono My House' (released the same year as this album) is an accepted classic album, but perhaps this 21st Century Editions reissue programme will remind people there is another classic: `Propaganda.'
The original 11-track album is present and correct, the Mael brothers joined by Dinky Diamond, T White, Ian Hampton, Adrian Fisher, and producer Muff Winwood - like `Kimono' this album fits well alongside the stuff they called glam rock: Aladdin-Bowie, T-Rex, The Sweet, The Rubettes, Roxy Music, Sailor, the Glitter act we don't talk about now etc. Having the pleasure of seeing Sparks on their latest tour, it was notable that after their latest `Hello Young Lovers' (played in its entirety), it was `Propaganda' that got the biggest airing with storming versions of `Achoo', `Something for the Girl with Everything', `Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth' & `At Home At Work At Play' (...or perhaps I have the wrong song for the start of the encore?).
`Propaganda' is very much a relative of `Kimono', a magnificent blend of pop and pomp, glam and prog...the stuff that Billy Mackenzie later tagged popera maybe? `Propaganda' is one of their classic albums closest to `Kimono' - `Number One in Heaven' (reissue! Expand! Etc!) a far more electronic wonder, while the recent `Lil' Beethoven' and `Hello Young Lovers' are much more modern (& great!). The album is packed full of highlights, but the ones I like the best are the dramatic `At Home....', the hilarious `Don't Leave Me Alone with Her', the euphoric `Something for the Girl with Everything' (which I'd take over `This Town...! & was memorably re-recorded by Sparks & Faith No More on their `Plagiarism' album), and the catchy art rock of `Achoo.' Best of all has to be `Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth', one of those great singles (see `Outdoor Miner', `Showgirl', `Waterloo Sunset', `William, It Was Really Nothing', `Cry Me a River', `Just Like Honey'...) and a song that has been covered by Martin L Gore (`Counterfeit e.p.) and Billy Mackenzie (`Eurocentric'). & I'm sure that the great West-German electronic outfit Propaganda got their name from here...or Paul Morley picked it or something!!
The repackage is great, as is the budget price - the liner notes are fantastic, littered with photos, notes, lyrics and the like - the cherry on the cake...and can we note `Propaganda' has one of the great album covers too? There are a few bonus tracks - the so-so `Alabamy Right' and the single `Marry Me' - the latter anticipating the material on `Indiscreet' and `Big Beat' (e.g. `England', `Get in the Swing'). & if all that isn't enough there's a seven-minute interview! How could you not have to buy this, take on the Sugababes directive and push the button!!!!