Sparks - C ou D

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There's a brilliant Sparks Best Of available from Fopp for about £3 or £5 - well worth checking out. Unremixed, too.

Bought this for three quid in HMV - they've got loads, snap 'em up, kids!

Can't intellectualise the already weightily, flouncily intellectual - just buy the above or Kimono My House, c'mon, it's only just more than a pint. Worth it for "Beat The Clock" and the other Moroder collabs alone.

CharlieNo4 (Charlie), Sunday, 20 July 2003 15:11 (sixteen years ago) link

the video for 'Rhythm Thief' is really cool!

stevem (blueski), Sunday, 20 July 2003 17:18 (sixteen years ago) link

Absolute classic up through 'Indiscreet', less so, but still damn good afterwards. Especially search 'Kimono My House,' and 'Propaganda.' IMHO, Sparks had an unique sound that nobody, including PSB, has captured.

John Bullabaugh (John Bullabaugh), Sunday, 20 July 2003 17:50 (sixteen years ago) link

I want to love them more than I do, but I still own and enjoy a pile of their records. Search the Giorgio Moroder-produced No. 1 in Heaven where the Mael brothers' songwriting is efficient and Moroder pulls out all the stops. I also think Angst in My Pants can stand along with the classic Island albums.

I love "Pineapple" btw.

Sean (Sean), Monday, 21 July 2003 02:09 (sixteen years ago) link

"Rhythm Thief" - that's funny, Junior Senior have a song called "Rhythm Bandits"

and JS are opening for Sparks in Central Park this summer!

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Monday, 21 July 2003 03:28 (sixteen years ago) link

Haha! That's brilliant, I have to say (and that should be one hell of a show).

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 21 July 2003 03:30 (sixteen years ago) link

I know, I can't wait! Sunshine, disco, and foliage, how can you go wrong?

Re the question: I like some of their songs, but not that many. When they're on, they're a breed apart, but I certainly can't listen to a side all the way through.

Tracer Hand (tracerhand), Monday, 21 July 2003 03:31 (sixteen years ago) link

five months pass...
Listening to XTC's "1000 Umbrellas" and thinking it reminds me of Sparks' "Here Comes Bob".

dleone (dleone), Saturday, 10 January 2004 21:44 (sixteen years ago) link

VERY interesting. I'm going to have to relisten to "Here Comes Bob" and think about that!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 10 January 2004 21:49 (sixteen years ago) link

I like "Rhythm Thief" but overall I think Lil' Beethovenflops. The songs aren't fully formed, more like fragments, and Ron's lyrical themes are totally played out to the point of being embarassing. The gimmick of the string arrangements diverts for a while, but doesn't carry the album. Sparks are still classic, but their discography is wildly inconsistant.

Sean (Sean), Sunday, 11 January 2004 00:07 (sixteen years ago) link

This is my fave unheralded pop surrealist miniature.


Not every cigarette is a dead, dead thing
Some have a mind and try to be other things
Pushed in the pack, they crave some Virginia air
Softly, they pray to someone, but life ain't fair

They're born to lose
They're born to fill
The lungs of Jack
The lungs of Jill
And like I said
Life just isn't fair

Nicotina, Nicotina, Nicotina is her name

Once in a while a cigarette has a name
N-I-C-O-T-I-N-A, that's her name
She had a tiny voice, and she sang all day
She was a cigarette, but she loved to play

Nicotina, Nicotina, Nicotina is her name

A man with a cough
Stepped to the machine
Dropped coins in the slot
The end of a dream

He ripped the pack and coughed, and then coughed again
Popped out a cigarette, and we're near the end
She screamed and screamed but so much was filtered out
Now Nicotina's only a tiny cloud

Nicotina's gone, but life goes on though
Nicotina's gone, but life goes on though
Nicotina's gone, but life goes on and on and on and on and on
Nicotina, Nicotina, Nicotina was her name

Ian Grey (Ian_G), Sunday, 11 January 2004 08:02 (sixteen years ago) link

two months pass...
And another revive to celebrate the upcoming show on Saturday in LA, which should be good fun. Arthur and Thea and I will be gathering with other Sparks maniacs beforehand, and you're welcome to join!

An acquaintance, Michelle who helps run Marc Almond's website, has a slew of enjoyable photos from the recent London show up here:

Click on 'Stage' and then follow the links.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 9 April 2004 00:05 (fifteen years ago) link

who's gonna see 'em in SF tonight? i hate you!

ken taylrr, Friday, 9 April 2004 16:03 (fifteen years ago) link

yeah, shaddup Ned :)

Donna Brown (Donna Brown), Friday, 9 April 2004 16:07 (fifteen years ago) link

*whistles idly* Living in their hometown area has its benefits. This'll be my fifth show in six years!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 9 April 2004 16:37 (fifteen years ago) link

I put Sparks in the same category as Suede and Marianne Faithful;
the music may have merit but I can't get past the vocals.

Squirrel_Police (Squirrel_Police), Friday, 9 April 2004 18:42 (fifteen years ago) link

Ron Mael walked up to me backstage at the Whiskey one time and looks all fretful, but, for a moment, doesn't say anything.

I say the early 80s version of Whassup and he scretches his chin, tells me in his late thirties, and he's worried that he isn't married yet. "Am I weird or something?" he asks.

Ian Grey (Ian_G), Friday, 9 April 2004 19:17 (fifteen years ago) link

Sparks rule!!!!!! I just found the Tips for Teens 12". Perfect. Andrew WK is a total Sparks head. Listen to Kimono My House and Indiscreet then put on I Get Wet. It all makes sense.

Justin Farrar (Justin Farrar), Saturday, 10 April 2004 01:58 (fifteen years ago) link

That's actually a brilliant comparison! (Now if I only liked Andrew WK.)

I was happy to let Sean in SF know about their show tonight via chat -- he got all excited because he didn't know about that beforehand, and is at the venue now! Hope he has a good time.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 10 April 2004 02:12 (fifteen years ago) link

Oh, and Ian's story rules.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 10 April 2004 02:12 (fifteen years ago) link

Thanks--And it's written entirely in TypoScript.

Ian Grey (Ian_G), Saturday, 10 April 2004 13:11 (fifteen years ago) link

Recently discovered 'The Japanese Have Come And They Bought My Number One' by the Maels. Only available on The Hell Collection but it's fantastic. From the early 90s, about a rich businessman stealing R. Mael's girlfriend from him, complete with a killer chorus. I'm sharing it on Ssk if anyone's interested.

Ian SPACK (Ian SPACK), Saturday, 10 April 2004 13:27 (fifteen years ago) link

The Hell Collection

A fine disc, that, as you can see here.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 10 April 2004 13:46 (fifteen years ago) link

Out of curiosity, what are Ron and Russell's marital statuses these days? I can't imagine them ever dating anyone ever, just sitting at home bringing cups of tea for each other and eyeballing Morrissey over the garden fence. Having said that, a good percentage of their songs are bitter little ditties about other guys getting girls and not our heroes. Ned, you're the oracle, what's the scandal?

Ian SPACK (Ian SPACK), Saturday, 10 April 2004 15:12 (fifteen years ago) link

Their private life is just that! I have a couple of odd suppositions here and there but pretty much they've got their comfy Hollywood Hills home and whatever goes on...goes on.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 10 April 2004 15:18 (fifteen years ago) link

Aw, I'm glad really. My idyllic view of them remains.

Ian SPACK (Ian SPACK), Saturday, 10 April 2004 15:23 (fifteen years ago) link

a) am I the only one who has heard/owns the Ron and Russell produced disco 12" Dancing is Dangerous by Noel on Virgin?

and if not, b) am th only one who thinks there is no such person as Noel and the song is just Russell singing in a low voice then sped up? Even the picture of "noel" on the label is questionable...I swear it could be Russell!

Dan Selzer (Dan Selzer), Saturday, 10 April 2004 15:47 (fifteen years ago) link

Spent the last two days listening to an awesome 17 minute version of this song, can't believe I've never heard of it before. Dan, thanks a dozen times for bringing it to my attention. I think you're right with reckoning it's Russell. What year was it released? As ever, I'm sharing it on slsk.

Also, 'We Are The Clash'. That's quite good too. I swear this band can never step a foot wrong.

Affectian (Affectian), Friday, 16 April 2004 00:36 (fifteen years ago) link

! I must know more about this.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 16 April 2004 00:41 (fifteen years ago) link

Which one? I can email either to you as mp3, though be warned 'Dancing is dangerous' is huge at 15mb (though I have a shorter 8mb version if that's any better).

I don't know if 'We are the Clash' has been discussed already but it's from a recent issue of Uncut, part of the Clash-tribute cover cd, and so it's very nu-Sparks. Big clean sharp sound and well worth hearing. 'Dancing is dangerous' is set to be my big 'weekend song' for the next few months, I can tell. Really, everyone should hear this - interested parties should email me.

Affectian (Affectian), Friday, 16 April 2004 00:50 (fifteen years ago) link

Send either song as an e-mail over the weekend, it'll be easy enough for me to download it at home -- and thanks!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 16 April 2004 03:11 (fifteen years ago) link

one month passes...
I just read on the Redd Kross website that their doing Kimono My House in it's entirety at Morrissey's Meltdown, plus a couple of b-sides! And Steven McDonald is playing bass! I guess they gave in to Morrissey's demands after all.

Arthur (Arthur), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 04:14 (fifteen years ago) link

Yeah, they're also doing the new album too, so it's a bit of then and now.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 18 May 2004 04:35 (fifteen years ago) link

I just recently got into Sparks after randomly downloading a live "Amateur Hour" on 70's TV from Soulseek and being transfixed. I love "Kimono My House"!!

Adam Bruneau, Tuesday, 18 May 2004 06:14 (fifteen years ago) link

one year passes...
New album Hello Young Lovers out early next year, a track "Waterproof" is starting to circulate -- crappy quality mp3 but the song itself sounds a treat, mixing the orchestral conceits of Li'l Beethoven with a bit of classic glam era guitar crunch near the end.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 04:14 (fourteen years ago) link

And here's more info:

Here is the track list for "Hello Young Lovers":

"Dick Around"
"The Very Next Fight"
"(Baby Baby) Can I Invade Your Country?"
"Rock, Rock, Rock"
"Here Kitty"
"There's No Such Thing As Aliens"
"When I Sit Down To Play the Organ at the Notre Dame Cathedral"

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 16:31 (fourteen years ago) link

Lil Beethoven really is one of my favourite record of the last years, so I'm really looking forward for this new one.

snowballing (snowballing), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 16:34 (fourteen years ago) link

the kings of cheeky songtitles.

Shakey Mo Collier (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 20:05 (fourteen years ago) link

i heard tips for teens on the radio today i loved it.

howell huser (chaki), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 20:13 (fourteen years ago) link

don't eat that burger
has it got mayonnaise?

Shakey Mo Collier (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 20:14 (fourteen years ago) link

(Baby Baby) Can I Invade Your Country?

I love this record already.

Billy Dods (Billy Dods), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 20:47 (fourteen years ago) link

Yeah, that's a great title. Here's hoping the lyrics live up to it.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 25 October 2005 20:57 (fourteen years ago) link

any chance of TSIs of the Noel single or the video of "Amateur Hour" re-apperaing on this fine, noble page?
i recall as a young lad seeing them on SNL (dunno the songs) and it was at least another decade before the wtf? of them seeped into me.
seeing them in Central Park was truly a treat.

b8a, Tuesday, 25 October 2005 21:03 (fourteen years ago) link

Got a better mp3 of "Waterproof" and it's just great -- I'd go so far as to say this is one of their best songs ever. HILARIOUS lyrics.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 04:38 (fourteen years ago) link

(Baby Baby) Can I Invade Your Country?

That reminds me of the Scott Walker line (well, Jacques Brel in translation via Scott Walker):

A ring on every finger
A finger in every country

walter kranz (walterkranz), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 04:40 (fourteen years ago) link

Press release on the album plus cover and, but of course, new great photo of the two:


For the tour, looks like they'll be doing the Li'l Beethoven thing where the concert will have the first half be the new album in its entirety.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 8 November 2005 16:29 (fourteen years ago) link

What a great album cover.

n/a (Nick A.), Tuesday, 8 November 2005 16:57 (fourteen years ago) link

It is indeed. Looks like I'll finally get round to seeing them in February, just have to decide whether to see them in Glasgow or Gateshead.

Billy Dods (Billy Dods), Tuesday, 8 November 2005 17:06 (fourteen years ago) link

one month passes...
The new Sparks album is on In the Red in North America, of all labels.

The drummer's purty.

Vic Funk, Thursday, 8 December 2005 23:00 (fourteen years ago) link

Heheh, of all labels to end up on.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 8 December 2005 23:30 (fourteen years ago) link

ok I'm dying at the video for "missionary position"

good art is orange; great art is teal (wins), Monday, 9 October 2017 17:16 (two years ago) link

Btw I find the idea that they haven't been funny since the 80s bizarre. Good morning, lighten up morrissey, collaborations don't work

good art is orange; great art is teal (wins), Monday, 9 October 2017 17:21 (two years ago) link

I hard a rumour that the collaboration didn't work and that they fell out with Franz

PaulTMA, Monday, 9 October 2017 17:35 (two years ago) link

Well hope various American posters caught the NYC/California shows. Saw the early show last night here in SF; fantastic as ever. They're doing two nights in Tokyo in a couple of days should anyone be over there.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 21 October 2017 13:39 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

every day i find myself with any of a half dozen of the new tracks in my head and i haven't even listening to the album that much.

new noise, Thursday, 14 December 2017 17:15 (two years ago) link

Btw I find the idea that they haven't been funny since the 80s bizarre. Good morning, lighten up morrissey, collaborations don't work

― good art is orange; great art is teal (wins)

agree, see also "Let The Monkey Drive"

sleeve, Thursday, 14 December 2017 17:20 (two years ago) link


I think every song on it is good. It actually reminds me more of Indiscreet than anything, where each song seems to be in it's own world. But I find it even better than that album, because yeah, nearly song is so stupidly catchy, and only the title track is actively irritating. I've gone back to it a lot, it's very much the sort of album I wished Exotic Creatures was.

frogbs, Thursday, 14 December 2017 17:35 (two years ago) link

My 2-year old daughter is obsessed with the title track so I've been hearing it daily for the past few weeks.

cwkiii, Friday, 15 December 2017 03:35 (two years ago) link

Good interview and live "Missionary Position":

... (Eazy), Friday, 15 December 2017 05:54 (two years ago) link

Oh nice, I'd missed they'd done another interview with him (had done one some years back).

Ned Raggett, Friday, 15 December 2017 05:55 (two years ago) link

six months pass...

Holy shit I need this immediately.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 21 June 2018 21:14 (one year ago) link

Oh yeah, he mentioned it a few weeks ago during his appearance on the R U Talkin' R.E.M. RE: ME? podcast.

MarkoP, Thursday, 21 June 2018 21:28 (one year ago) link

I vaguely remember news of him filming the London concert but had missed the documentary news. What a good thing to see this week, honestly.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 21 June 2018 21:33 (one year ago) link

He said on R U Talkin' R.E.M. re: Me? (last week's episode) that he hasn't done anything on it apart from filming the London show, and there's no timeframe as yet.

kelp, clam and carrion (sic), Thursday, 21 June 2018 23:21 (one year ago) link

seven months pass...

Yes, thank you:


Originally released March 2nd 1979, Sparks are celebrating the 40th anniversary of No 1 In Heaven with a specially remastered and curated double color vinyl and CD release. This edition features new sleeve notes written by Ron & Russell and remastered bonus tracks, which include original and rare album Peter Cook radio promo spots.

Out March 1st 2019 on Lil' Beethoven Records.

Available for pre-order →

Ned Raggett, Monday, 28 January 2019 18:23 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

Sounds like this might actually finally be happening:

Vaguely Threatening CAPTCHAs, Wednesday, 15 May 2019 19:03 (nine months ago) link

seven months pass...

Still great:

Ned Raggett, Monday, 16 December 2019 21:28 (two months ago) link

saw that single pop up on RYM and wondered if it was an environmentalist tune

take the word "fuck" out of the title and this could be the Pet Shop Boys

frogbs, Monday, 16 December 2019 21:59 (two months ago) link

"We are the world" for the Greta age

reggae mike love (polyphonic), Monday, 16 December 2019 22:16 (two months ago) link

Am I the only who thinks the opening lines sound a bit like the chorus in "Across the Universe", harmonically?

Johan Lif, Monday, 16 December 2019 22:50 (two months ago) link

one month passes...

Sparks' new album A STEADY DRIP, DRIP, DRIP is released May 15th, 2020 ✨

Check out all the different editions of the album & pre-order your copy →

— SPARKS (@sparksofficial) January 27, 2020

not sure if that picture disc is awesome or an eyesore but I'll probably grab it regardless

frogbs, Monday, 27 January 2020 17:39 (three weeks ago) link

An awesome eyesore.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 27 January 2020 17:53 (three weeks ago) link

two weeks pass...

oof the shipping puts this over fifty bucks, I guess I'm out

currently listening to the 3-disc version of Gratuitous Sax, this is kind of an odd album get the megaexpanded reissue treatment but it's pretty fun. there's basically an entire CD's worth of demos that were never properly recorded.

frogbs, Monday, 10 February 2020 20:22 (one week ago) link

Because of my Franz Ferdinand fandom (and their FFS collaboration, which I own a copy of on CD) and Ned's continual championing of the band, I own a copy of New Music for Amnesiacs: The Essential Collection and my goodness is it a good one. Think I should get their Moroder album next because I love Moroder already, then work my way through their '70s oeuvre before making my way through the '80s. Though I kinda already loved "Eaten by the Monster of Love" because of how much I love the music from the movie Valley Girl and I've known about "Cool Places" ever since I was a young teenager since it was on the first CD release I ever owned (Classic MTV Class of 1983).

We Live as We Dee, Alone (deethelurker), Tuesday, 11 February 2020 13:24 (one week ago) link

My intro to Sparks was in the 70's movie "Rollercoaster", about a cop tracking down a psychopath intent on planting bombs on rollercoasters across the USA. Sparks was the band playing during the inaugural ride on the faster/tallest coaster which was opening at Magic Mountain. They sure had the look and feel of a typical hard rock band of the era. Imagine my surprise when I finally heard Kimono My House!

henry s, Tuesday, 11 February 2020 15:39 (one week ago) link

haha wow

let's talk about gecs baby (sleeve), Tuesday, 11 February 2020 15:46 (one week ago) link

In retrospect this was a memorable sequence. The viewer wasn't sure if there was a bomb planted on the Great American Revolution (the name of the rollercoaster, this was 1976 after all) or not, and the camera POV kept going back and forth between the screaming riders and Ron Mael's glowering countenance. Every so often a flash pot would explode on the Sparks stage, to unsettling effect. It was pretty tense, actually!

henry s, Tuesday, 11 February 2020 16:04 (one week ago) link

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