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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 20 February 2007
I bought this, hated it, sold it, then found myself singing all the songs so bought it again!

It is very different to the previous albums. The backing band is sparse and heavy, the vocals mush nore repetitive and simple, often annoyingly so. The drums are very over the top, a bit like Aynsley Dunbar on Bowies Pin Ups album. The guitar a bit like Mick Ronsons playing too. It all goes to make a very different album.

If you like Sparks dont make this a first purchase, get Kimono or Lil Beethoven first, this is not for the casual Sparks fan and is not really for the faint hearted.
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on 14 December 2014
Not as good as the albums they released before and after it, this was a return to a more guitar and drum driven Rock Sound after they moved back to the West Coast of the USA from Britain.

However it has been remastered and does contain many extra tracks including the classic B Side Gone With The Wind which is so good it's worth getting for this one song alone.

So I've docked one star for it not being quite up to their usual brilliant standard, but still very good nonetheless.

Just Buy It - it's Sparks, they're all good!
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on 6 December 2009
Sparks make a punk album, a year before punk exploded.
After the sheer brilliance of "Kimono My House", after the frenetic urgency of "Propoganda", after the change in sound and structure of "Indiscreet", Sparks proved they were still surfing way ahead of the crowd by releasing this, an album which forecasts the sound punk tried to make without ever losing sight of intelligence, wit, humour, tunes, offensiveness, sarcasm....oh, and lots of other things that make Sparks so far out left.
Thundering drum sound, scratchy guitar, bass as lead (on most tracks), almost no keyboards - what on EARTH were they trying to do?

No anger, a bit of despair, sexist racism ("White Women" does make me feel uneasy, but it really is impossible to take the track too seriously in the light of the lyrics and everything else they've ever released), the oddbod track ("I Like Girls" - all keyboards and as odd as a very odd thing), and the usual mix of sarcasm, irony, and silly cleverness. Or clever silliness, it depends how you hear this...

Personally, I love most of this album, but unusually (for me) there is an absolute, utter, stand out stunner of a track on here. "I Bought The Mississippi River" is daft, possibly pointless, but it sure sounds like it's about something's made me puzzled for 33 years so far and I do hope no - one ever explains what it actually means.

And it has a TERRIBLE sleeve.

Or is that a great sleeve?..

Maybe not a great Sparks album, but against everything else still worth 5 stars.
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on 18 February 2014
Anyone old and cool enough to have followed Sparks' career in real time in the '70s likely found Big Beat disappointing but now in 2014 when they have 22 LPs, it sits somewhere in the middle of their discography. It's the antistasis of it's predeccessor Indiscreet as their sound is now, for the most part, stripped back to basic, raw rock 'n' roll. The only two tracks that hark back (musically) to the old days - I Bought The Mississippi River and I Like Girls (which unsurprisingly dates back to the Bearsville days) are amongst my favourites on the album but straight-foward rockers Nothing To Do and Throw Her Away (And Get A New One) are excellent too. However, what's not straight-forward about the record, is the lyrics. Ron Mael's words in White Woman, Everybody's Stupid and the aformentioned Throw Her Away (And Get A New One) are politically incorrect and an absolute laugh riot. This is definitely not one for those who like their music serious.
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on 18 February 2013
After the assault of a Beatles classic pop song in March of '76, Big Beat was a relief they'd changed their direction. The brothers did what they did best, in dumping band members that brought them albums that sold. Namely, drummer Dinky Diamond, guitarist Trevor White and bassist Ian Hampton. On this album we have ex-Roxy Music's Sal Maid on Bass, Drummer 'Hilly Boy' Michaels, and Jeffery Salen on guitar. The album was produced by Rupert Holmes & Jeffrey Lesser. Engineers on here included Michael Barbiero who went to work with the likes Madonna. Plus, Bob Clearmountain, who engineered Bowie's 'Let's Dance' album.

The lead single release was a double 'A' sided one, of 'Big Boy' with 'Fell-er Up.'These 2 songs were played by Sparks toward the end of the 1977 Disaster film 'Rollercoaster'

Reading the lyrics, Ron had the frustration of the punk generation but the music was basic MOR rock with a hint of blues. The only other single was 'I Like Girls'. A song that originated from Sparks early days around the time of the first LP. 'I Like Girls' was doubled 'A'd with 'England'. A track first used as B-side to their Beatles cover. 'England' was a song that Ron & Russell did with old member Earle Mankey. First time they'd worked together since 1973. Both the Beatles song and 'England' would end up on the CD version of 'Indiscreet.'

I for one enjoyed this LP. More than the album that would come the following year. I think Island Records could have made more effort publicity.
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on 24 May 2008
I got this back in the 70s on vinyl. I was appalled then and time has not changed my mind. After three great albums they produced this thing which is shockingly poor. The positives I can throw at it are that it has a nice cover and one or two of the tunes are mildly catchy. The downside is everything else. And I'm sorry if it was not meant as serious, but White Women is just downright offensive. It's not funny, it's not clever. It's a little catchy which is the more disturbing. Same can be said of throw her away. It's all very misogynistic, tongue in cheek or not.

There are several 5 star Sparks CDs to get (their recent three,plus Propaganda and Kimono my House) there are some 4 star CDs (Indiscreet and No1 in Heaven). This is far, far, far down the list of quality.
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on 3 March 2010
After the majestic trio of albums that came before it, this has a lot to live up to and is somewhat dismissed by some fans.
Maybe Rupert Holmes wasn't the perfect choice of producer for such a rock-y album, but there is plenty here to enjoy. Russell's voice is, as always, on fine form and there are some great tracks here.
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on 14 February 2015
Very good
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on 16 April 2007
Probably, despite serious competition from Ray Davies and Peter Blegvad.

Up there with Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and even The Gershwins and Kurt Weill.

And I grew up with those folks' songs. My mother, who had seen most of their opening nights on Broadway, and heard Rhapsody in Blue on an acetate at a Bohemian apartment in the Village, played the piano and I sang the songs. So, nobody can suggest that I don't know my chops, and the 3 gentlemen cited belong in that hallowed group. (Even if Ray did go through a pretty dubious period after School Days when the Kinks thought they were a stadium/arena band.)

I could have put this review into any Sparks CD, but I'm putting it here because, as usual, I have something to complain about and that is where in the Name of Arioch is the CD version of Introducing Sparks, Big Beat's followup? I've heard rumours that the Post Brothers, oh, sorry, I mean the Mael Brothers don't like it.

TOO BAD!! They're wrong.
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on 23 May 2009
...and maybe the worst Sparks album I've ever listened to. Funny lyrics, great voice, but no magic.
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