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4.8 out of 5 stars26
4.8 out of 5 stars
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 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!!!!
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on 3 August 2001
A fantastic album! This is the first Sparks album I bought and it changed my whole view on music on the first listen and even after playing it several times it doesn't tire on me. It is totally original, bold, quirky arty rock that jumps out the stereo. On the first few seconds of the title track/opener I thought 'wow'. This is the lesser known follow up to the legendary 'Kimono My House' (which also has a great opening) and was amazingly released in the same year, 1974. Sparks were, then, extraordinarily creative and prolific and this release is just as good as its predecessor, if not (dare I say it) better. The songs gel together better and there are no duffers on the original album (Sorry, I can't comment on the 2 bonus tracks as I've not got that version but if they're half as good as the ones on Kimono then they're a good listen). The next album, Indescreet, seems lame in comparison as it does not have the 'wow factor'. The singles are the gorgeous 'Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth' and the operatic 'Something for the Girl with Everything'. Great songs, though not as successful as the singles from Kimono which is why the album's not so well known. When I got the album, I did not know anything about it or Sparks, other than that they were influential on a lot of 80s artists. I guessed that the singles were the operner 'Propoganda/At Home, At Work, At Play' (1 minute Acappella stunner followed by New Wave rock) and the Rocky Horror-like 'Don't leave me alone with her'. These could have been hits. If you write the musical notes down to many songs you'd find that the compositions are almost classical in nature whereas the sound is very rocky -like New Wave music five years ahead of its time - what a combination! The final song on the original album (before the 2 bonus tracks were added)'Bon Voyage' could be from a Gilbert & Sullivan opera! Therefore, like its predecessor, the sound is very 'interesting' and exciting and should appeal to a wide audience who like truly great music. Other great tracks - 'B.C' which just gets faster and faster, the classic title 'Achoo!','Who don't like Kids' which features kids shouting the title in unison, the funny 'Reinforcements' fact all the songs are good even if you can't hear all the lyrics clearly (like opera I suppose). The lyric sheet will help as lot of the lyrics are tongue in cheek. To conclude: If you loved 'Kimono My House' then you'll surely love this. Every household should own one.
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on 23 January 2004
If you only buy one CD this year - get Indiscreet! It's awsome! But after that - get this one - 99% as good! Unfortuneately I'm old enough to remember Sparks the first time around - I loved them then - I adore them now! There are few words good enough to describe how wonderful this CD is - it's a work of art! The opening track, which blends seemlessly into the second, sends shivers down your spine. then you are launched into an hour's journey of what pop is all about - variety, imagination (like few others) and tunes to die for! You will NEVER get tired of listening to this - the only thing worth interupting it for is another brilliant Sparks CD. Puts 'modern' artists to shame! Enjoy!
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VINE VOICEon 16 February 2006
Along with 'Kimono', this album represents the point where the Mael Bros' curiously anglo-centric pop reached its zenith. In many ways it's more consistent than Kimono, with some truly superb songs. "ABC" has machine-gun delivery from Russell Mael disguising some truly witty lyrics and a tremendous melody. "At Home..." is similarly quick-fire and almost obscenely tuneful. "Don't Leave Me Alone with Her" tells the knowing tale of a bloke being cornered by a girl who's head-over-heels for him, but he doesn't feel the same. "Thanks But No Thanks" features Sparks' possibly most graceful band arrangement, with feathery acoustic guitar underpinning the marvellous one-note guitar solo on the outro. "Never Turn Your Back..." is an acknowledged classic that sounds as if it has always existed; the first time I heard the album I checked to see that it wasn't a cover version!
Good production (Muff Winwood, as 'Kimono'), punchy melodic songs and barbed, witty lyrics. Could they do no wrong...? Just give them a couple of years (!).
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on 1 January 2015
Boy were these guys productive back in 1974!

The fourth Sparks album and the second to be released in the same year as their classic Kimono My House, this release is I would say equally as good as that earlier classic.

A definite five star must buy, very highly recommended.
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on 2 April 2014
In following up the huge success of Kimono My House, it was business as usual for Sparks. A mere 6 months later came Propaganda - an album that retained the sound and aesthetic of it's predecessor but with, in this writer's opinion, even better songs. After a brief acappella introduction, the next 40+ minutes is amongst the most exhilarating, hilarious, beautiful, absurd, intelligent music i've ever heard. There's the military march of Reinforcements, the head-spinning Don't Leave Me Alone With Her, the lump-in-the-throat ballads Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth and Bon Voyage, the silly Achoo... Hit after hit, there's barely a moment to take a breath. My favourite Sparks album and one of my favourite albums of all time.
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on 5 May 2014
The perfect companion piece to Kimono My House, perhaps a little less immediate but no understatement to say this album is a masterpiece. The lyrics are oblique, camp, humorous and perverse sung in that unique falsetto voice. The group at this time found themselves pigeon holed in the glam genre but with the backing group at this time ( who the Mael brothers ditched following this album) the sound is a unique blend of timeless proto new wave and vaudeville. The slow synth "Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth" was covered years later by Martin Gore. Unfortunately for me it's all down hill from here but Kimono My House and Propaganda are two of the most influential albums from the 1970's.
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on 9 June 2008
As great an album as it's predecessor (Kimono ...) undoubtedly is, Propaganda outshines it - and some. At the age of 9 back in 74/75, this album barely left my turntable for 6 months and still airs regularly to this day, albeit in the CD format.

From the brilliant singles 'Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth' and 'Something For The Girl With Everything' through to the lesser known 'Reinforcements', 'Don't Leave me alone With Her' and 'ABC' to name a few, this album is classic and timeless pop.

Sparks had an edge that the rest of glam didn't and duly influenced the vital punk revolution to come a couple of years later. Ironically by this time Sparks had changed direction (to their detriment in my opinion).

This album however, stands as one of the alltime greats and it pains me slightly that I'm not able to give it more than the 5 stars available.
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on 22 February 2008
Propaganda is one of Sparks's classic albums and still sounds as fresh today as on its first release. Full of infectious, catchy songs, it is a fast paced album as the band whisks you along on the crest of the wave of their up-tempo rhythms.

For me, whilst they're still good today, Sparks have lost a little bit of the urgency that made this and other earlier albums like "Kimono My House" so special.

It's absolutely great! Everyone will have their own personal favourite - mine is "At Home, At Work, At Play" - but they're all brilliant really!
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on 19 November 2013
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