Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Introducing Sparks (Russell Sleeve)
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Introducing Sparks, originally released in 1977, is the seventh album by Sparks and the only one of their 20 long-players not available on CD. Until now--the duo's own label, Lil' Beethoven Records, are putting it out. Fin... more »
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Introducing Sparks, originally released in 1977, is the seventh album by Sparks and the only one of their 20 long-players not available on CD. Until now--the duo's own label, Lil' Beethoven Records, are putting it out. Finally, you can hear the much-discussed but rarely heard transitional album from Ron and Russell Mael's near-40-year career.
David Bowie wasn't the only chameleonic figure in '70s rock. Introducing Sparks finds the Mael brothers, in the company of an array of top session musicians (mirroring Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan in this respect), caught between the innovative glam-prog-pop of their four early-to-mid-'70s Island albums (Kimono My House, Propaganda, Indiscreet, Big Beat) and the audacious proto-electro of their 1979 collaboration with Giorgio Moroder (No. 1 in Heaven).
Introducing Sparks was their first and only album for Columbia, who pushed the boat out at the time by releasing it on red vinyl. They also spared no expense when it came to the recording, allowing or perhaps encouraging Ron and Russell to engage the cream of LA's backing singers and session guns for hire. Just as the front and back cover of the album presents our heroes as faux matinee idols, all soft-focus and airbrushed perfection, so Introducing Sparks has a polished, slick, sophisticated, big-budget sound that reflects the record company's desire to get the Maels' music on the radio.
Heard today, Introducing Sparks sounds less like made-for-heavy-rotation AOR and more like a comment on, or rather series of pastiches of (all right, then: acerbic attacks on) daytime US radio-fodder: imagine Randy Newman as program controller in charge of America's airwaves for some idea of this satirical yet highly commercial meta-rock.
Underrated Sparks album.
Threefolddado | Long Beach, CA USA | 04/14/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yes. This is the one with the Beach Boys influenced "Over The Summer". The good news is, "Over The Summer" is one of the weaker songs. Full of lyrical word plays typical of Sparks apparent in such gems as "Big Surprise", "Goofing Off", and "Occupation", its a tongue in cheek classic. I am very pleased to see it has FINALLY been released to CD."
Jim Richmond | 06/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"That this album has been out of print and unavailable on CD until now is certainly one of "Those Mysteries" (title of last song on this album). It's certainly up to par on a Sparks-level, and is their last really good album for those who prefer 70's Sparks.
This fits perfectly with the Kimono My House - Big Beat era Sparks, with a similar style. "A Big Surprise" has a very common 70's sound, yet uniquely Sparks. "Occupation" sounds like it could have been on Kimono My House. "Ladies" sounds like it could have come from Propaganda. "I'm Not" could have come from Big Beat. "Forever Young is an uptempo fun song with a great message. "Goofing Off" has a different feel (sort of Greek minor opera or something), but is fun and uniquely Sparks. "Girls on the Brain" carries on the Big Beat `women' subject matter (i.e. I Like Girls and White Women) and is a nice bluesy rocker. "Over the Summer" is something different; kind of Beach Boys-ish, but still works well. "Those Mysteries" is a slightly quieter, more reflective song, that is perfect for the final song.
The end of a great chapter in the Sparks music catalog. If only they could have continued with these types of great songs and not stayed off into other musical styles...
My only complaint is that it doesn't sound remastered. It could have been spiffed up a bit with more treble/clarity. Still, that doesn't necessarily detract when you have great original music.
Shamelessly under-rated gem
M Elliott | 11/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I never understand why this album has always had such a bad rap.
Songs like 'Occupation' have much the same musical quality as anything on Kimono My House or Indiscreet while wistful pieces like Those Mysteries have a child's eye view rather like 'Under the table with her'.
I suspect that the original bad reputation of the album came simply from the fact that Sparks weren't feeling original by 1977. Ironically had they put it out in 2007 the world would have celebrated it as a superb return to form. Just a question of timing.
Do listen to the album rather than reading reviews. If you loved the mid 70's Sparks classics this is an essential part of your collection.