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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