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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Halfnelson (Sparks) / A Woofer In Tweeters Clothing
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£21.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

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
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on 26 February 2002
Sparks - pre-chart success - were a cult band in progressive music circles. On "Woofer" they manage on every track to do the unexpected, both in terms of lyrics and music. Much seems tongue in cheek, and lyrics are open to translation in many ways - the new sleeve notes that accompany the CD answer questions that have haunted me for quarter of a century. In terms of style, comparison can be made with very early Roxy Music, mixing (then) current rock with older, more sedate rhythms and vocals. (Not that the results bear any similarity). Sparks were/are totally unique in style and Moon over Kentucky with its' wierd echo and eccentric yodels is still an all time classic.
The additional bonus of getting their first LP release "Sparks" on the same CD was a surprise - and a rewarding one - whilst the earlier songs are raw and don't hang together quite as well as on "Woofer" they are still unmistakably Sparks.
The first time around I brought "Woofer" the same week I purchased "Hunky Dory" by Bowie and for sheer innovation, musical excellence and the fact that even now, you can listen and relisten and discern new things happening in both music and lyrics - it is difficult to say which I would take as a "desert island disc".
Whilst Sparks later releases made the more money and a they became a "pop" band - these early releases show the formative stages of their style and in many ways demonstrate much of the essence of the early 70's which was about breaking new ground, developing new styles and, above all, enjoying the music, both as a performer and as the audience.
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on 18 April 2014
If like me you've already got these excellent early albums by the masterful Sparks in their first incarnation (I have them on LP). You may be looking to see if the last few tracks on A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing have been mastered at the correct slower speed by Edsel for their 2013 2CD re-issue. Unfortunately this problem has not been fixed. The sparks fans at allsparks (who know a lot more than I do) have confirmed that the error has not been fixed.

The last few tracks on Woofer were sped up when the two albums were originally released on a single CD. Unfortunately all subsequent reissues have retained the faster mixes. So while this new CD sensibly puts each album on its own CD the problem still persists.

Hope this helps.

And of course its 4 stars for music quality. The debut is more poppy and consistent while the second LP is more wiggy. How can any collection be complete without Wonder Girl, Fa La Fa Lee, High C, Fletcher Honorama, (No More) Mr. Nice Guys, Girl From Germany, Beaver O'Lindy, Moon Over Kentucky and Batteries Not Included/Whippings And Apologies (even if the last two are speeded up too fast).
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on 25 March 2001
The first two Sparks albums are clearly products of the early 70's, stamped forever in time by the production of Todd Rundgren and former Electric Prunes lead singer Thaddeus James Lowe. But the abundance of ideas and the daring to try to carry them off give both efforts a freshness lacking in so much contemporary music. The first album, which was released eponymously under the band's original moniker, Halfnelson, swirls together influences from The Kinks and Small Faces (in their more twee conceptions), bits of psychedelia and a general weirdness that has been the permanent trademark of Sparks leaders Ron and Russell Mael. The songs range from the tinny garage rock of "Fa La Fa Lee" (a charming incest lament), to the dreamlike "Fletcher Honorama", the blistering "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (yes, Sparks could rock),to the lush "Simple Ballet" and topping (or bottoming?) this roster is guitarist (and future producer of note) Earle Mankey's "Biology II" -- a love duet between a sperm and an egg. The follow up, included on this 2-for-1 collection, A WOOFER IN TWEETER'S CLOTHING, adds some of the baroque elements that remained with the band when they hit their KIMONO heyday. It is a flat out masterpiece. Take a trip to "The Louvre", where a statue mocks tourists, asking them to "lift me -- I dare you to try." Giggle at the silly symphony that is "Here Comes Bob" -- an L.A. guy who crashes his car into others solely to meet people. Enjoy the melodrama of "Moon Over Kentucky". Empathize with the protagonist of "Girl From Germany", whose Holocaust scarred parents can't stand the fact their son is dating a German gal. This is just the tip of an extremely bizarre iceberg. If you want something completely different, check this out.
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on 12 May 2013
its been observed that sparks change their style on subsequent albums because the previous one sold less than the last one....well, these 2 records, the first in sparks huge catalogue had nothing to fear and they went all out. the results speak for themselves. "pop" records with a slant on the bent/twisted/deranged side, with songs lyrics about incest (fa la fa lee) and crashing your car into others to make relationships (here comes bob) among others. no wonder they didn't sell big to a 71/72 audience. but then again who was listening to the lyrics?

unlike kimono my house and so forth the music here is weird for its time, still deliciously pop, but it'll make you look (hear?) twice, especially on "woofter in tweeters clothing". proto punk, new wave, art rock, who knows, who cares. Morrissey, They Might Be Giants, Adam and the Ant ( listen to Dirk Wears White Sox), Sonic Youth, Depeche Mode, Faith No More, Paul McCartney and Queen were all paying close attention.

These records truely sound like something sparks wanted to make rather than to pander to an audience (not that they do course), and because of that they sound more enjoyable.
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on 25 October 2013
In affect I bought this in 1975 when both the albums came out as '2 Originals of Sparks.' The only thing new here is the early 1973 recording of 'I Like Girls.'

What I consider important to me was this period of Sparks behaved as a band, a collective of talented group members. This is noted simply by the writing credits to each song.

Sparks (Produced by Todd Rundgren. Engineered by James Lowe.
1. Wonder Girl (Ron Mael)
2. Fa La Fa lee (Ron Mael)
3. Roger ( Russell Mael)NB. This track is 95% its 1968 recording!
4. High C (Ron Mael)
5. Fletcher Honorama (Ron Mael)
6. Simple Ballet (Russell Mael & Ron Mael)

7. Slowboat (Russell Mael & Ron Mael)
8. Biology 2 (Earle Mankey)
9. Saccharin and the War (Russell Mael)
10. Big Bands (Ron Mael & Russell Mael)
11. (No More)Mr. Nice Guys (Jim Mankey & Ron Mael)

A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing (Produced & engineered by T. James Lowe)
1. Girl From Germany ((Russell Mael & Ron Mael)
2. Beaver O'Lindy (Ron Mael/Russell Mael/Earle Mankey/Jim Mankey/Harley Feinstein)
3. Nothing Is Sacred (Ron Mael)
4. Here Comes Bob (Ron Mael & Russell Mael)
5. Moon Over Kentucky (Jim Mankey & Ron Mael)

6. Do Rei Me (Richard Rogers & Oscar Hammerstein II)
7. Angus Desire (Ron Mael & Russell Mael)
8. Underground (Earle Mankey)
9. The Louvre (Rom Mael)
10. Batteries Not Included (Ron Mael)
11.Whippies and Apologies (Ron Mael)
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on 24 June 2013
goods received on time and in excellent condition...this cd is a bargain and would recommend to any Sparks fan, and if you dont have it...why not???
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