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Sparks - Where it all began....
on 7 November 2003
This is where it all began for me - 30 years on and still buying Sparks CD's/Albums, attending the slightly more regular UK concerts, buying the 'Live in London' DVD (only available from fan club at present), wearing the old and somewhat ill fitting T-shirts...
I remember Johnnie Walker in the mid 70's playing Girl From Germany in his 'One that got away' slot on Radio 1 - to this day it remains one of my all time favourite Sparks tracks. Lyrically Ron Mael was already ahead of his time - and still is.
The first of the two albums features 'Sparks' is very raw but shows signs of the complexity of many of Sparks tracks to follow in later years.
Whilst Girl From Germany is a classic pop tune of its type, there are also fun tunes like Here Comes Bob, Sacharrin and the War and Fa La Fa Lee.
Musically Rons songs provide a perfect foil for the falsetto tones particularly prevent in Russels early recording career, and the ability not only to 'pen' simple tunes, but also complex arrangements. Lyrically Ron has a clever penchant for use of the double entendre, and insight to produce lyrics often later palgiarised by other performers / artists - check out 'She ain't heavy she's a brother to me' on Fa La Fa Lee (Remember the Hollies later hit He ain't heavy he's my brother?).
The second album 'A Woofer in Tweeters' Clothing' showed a natural progression from the earlier recording, with a more polished sound, and yet another classic of its' time, giving them a good platform to launch their attack in 1974 on the UK chart scene.
Solid backing from the other musicians should be noted, Earle and Jim Mankey, and drummer Harley Feinstein (however these guys did not follow the Mael brothers 'across the pond' to the UK).
Well worth a listen particularly for those who picked up on sparks in the later years.
PS: Check out the lists on Amazon for other Sparks CD's - they're still going strong after all these years (latest release is Lil' Beethoven). The only album NOT yet available out of their back catalogue is 'Introducing Sparks' from 1977 (check out the 2nd hand stores for the album on vinyl).
More info on the band - check out sparks official website