Monday, May 19, 2008

SPARKS: Alive...and Playing Their ENTIRE Catalog Live In London!!!

PhotobucketFrom our beloved leader Bruce...

Leave it to Sparks to come up with a new twist to exploring their 20 album catalog - they are doing a series of shows in London and each night Sparks (Ron and Russel Mael along w/ sidemen, including Steve MacDonald of Redd Kross on bass) are playing their albums - first to newest - in chronological and sequenced order, encoring with at least one obscure track from each particular albums' era. Cheap Trick did this 10 years ago but only focused on their first 5 albums.)

Joy. Pure Joy. In a life long obsession with music, I have many favorite bands. If forced rank them, I can. Amongst two of my favorite in, say, my so-called "All Time Top 10", Sparks and Be Bop Deluxe have been firmly planted there since I heard 'note #1' from them in the early 70s. More on BBD in a later post, but staying up to see WOLFMAN JACK AND THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL in the early/mid 70s on U.S. TV was a must. You never knew what was going to happen in-between the obligatory showings of such gripping acts as Leo Sayer and Rufus. Yet, most weeks, there was an imported band from the U.K. or an obscure hard rock act fighting their way to the top who would slip into rotation and confuse, befuddle and infuriate a good portion of their audience. COOL!

PhotobucketNow, I had one of those mini-Sony TVs that I could plug in and fit under the blankets after lights out and Don Kirschner's Rock Concert DON KIRSCHNER'S ROCK CONCERT and MIDNIGHT SPECIAL were midnight events in Boston.

One night, a strange, strange band landed on Earth and played a song called "Something For The Girl With Everything". Joy. Pure Joy. Sparks were exalted and moved to the head of the line of 'new obsessions for me.

I had read about them in Melody Maker, as they were tearing up the charts in the U.K. but just had not gotten around to picking up KIMONO MY HOUSE because - well, I was 12! Shee, I only had SO much money to buy LP's (they cost about $5 back then) and I was living the life of Bolan already with buying imports. $9!!! Gulp.) - not an easy task is suburban Boston in 1974/75 and there are only so many lawns to be mowed and not be a tax on my music listening time.

PhotobucketAnyway, I am green-beyond-green with envy to any of the roughly 500 or so souls experiencing this event in London right now. One of them includes my friend Mike Bennett, a fellow Sparks devotee and respected indie writer and all-round music geek who made the trip from Chicago to give pilgrimage - and to worship. There are not a lot of U.S.-based Sparks obsessives and I wish I could have ended up being there with him, massively geeking out. But, now, thru the joys (that word again) blogging, Mr. Bennett reports from London on the first three shows. Read about them in detail and follow it here.

If you have not explored Sparks before, well there is no good primer to the career to recommend, mainly, because with each album, the band pretty much not only detoured what was working (or not working) and tried something new, they radically experimented with whatever technologies have been available to them, twisted them inside their own vision and made music unlike anything else. Sparks would be impossible to accurately encapsulate without having, say, 4 CDs to address their wonder, excellence and unique character. Yes, it did not always work and they have their share of clunkers in their 35-year career but if you must begin with one go with MAEL INTUITION: BEST OF 1974-1976. It's only a snapshot but what a hot one!

SPARKS albums in stock at NOT LAME:



Blogger J. Jurrjens said...

While vacationing/working in London, I got the chance to see one of these great shows: "Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing". They sounded terrific: impeccable chops, great presence, fun atmosphere. Russell poked a little fun at Mozza, too. It was worth the 9-hour flight just to hear the whole audience whistling along to "Girl from Germany"!
Also got to see Even twice, which was absolutely incredible. They are vastly underrated.

June 29, 2008 at 7:22 AM  

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