Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
The duo's 1997 album for Virgin, a collection featuring newversions of their very best. A black & white picture CD, itcontains 19 tracks, including Faith No More collaboratingwith them on 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For Th... more »
The duo's 1997 album for Virgin, a collection featuring newversions of their very best. A black & white picture CD, itcontains 19 tracks, including Faith No More collaboratingwith them on 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us'& 'Something For The Girl With Everything', plus 'AmateurHour' (with Erasure) and 'The No.1 Song In Heaven' (withJimmy Sommerville).
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You can't go home again
Michael C. Browning | Palm Beach Gardens, FL United States | 07/09/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a Sparks admirer, but I am reluctantly compelled to point out that this is not their best work. It is perfectly OK to revisit your stuff and redo it -- you have the copyright, after all. But I must say that two-thirds of these remakes are poorer than the originals. They substitute lush "101 Strings" orchestrations for the faster-than-the-speed-of-thought drive and precision of the originals. This comes perilously close to elevator music. There are two versions of their breakthrough hit, "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us," and the first is pretty lame. The second almost, but not quite, measures up to the incandescence of the original. There is a very skillful a capella rendition of "Propaganda" that is worth listening to, though it sounds rather silly and faux-Elizabethan. The remake of "Funny Face" has a rather sweet,sad, precious, chiming quality to it, quite far from the original and very pretty. It is the equal, but not the superior, of the original. But it lacks the final, resolving chord that ties the whole song together. I thought "Change" was a travesty of the original, which is one of the Sparks' strongest, most brilliant tunes. "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth" is another vivid embarrassment. It sounds as if it were scored by Mantovani. "Angst in my Pants" is a somewhat interesting do-over, but again, not a patch on the original. "Beat the Clock" may be a hair's breadth better than the original, in that the head-pounding rhythms have been toned down and the music is allowed to flow more freely. "Big Brass Ring" is a pleasant enough instrumental, but it sortv reminds me of the background music in "Miami Vice." It is accompaniment. "Amateur Hour," is, to my mind, the best cut on the CD. The Sparks have added an extra filigree of electronic gold to the brocade. It is the most harmonically satisfying thing on the whole disk.
I don't want to turn anyone away from the Sparks with this tepid review. They are an extremely interesting and talented group and "Li'l Beethoven" is astounding. But this is the problem. I don't think anyone would go crazy over the Sparks on the basis of this album. No one would say: "My God! I've got to hear more of these guys!" This is not an album for beginners, but rather for dyed-in-the-wool Sparks afficionados, or completists, who want to have every single note they ever recorded. Perhaps this is the highest compliment of all: The Sparks are so "sui generis" that they cannot be plagiarized, even by themselves."
Madeline Bocaro | New York, New York | 10/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Plagiarism is the ultimate covers album. It's Sparks (Ron and Russell Mael) paying tribute to themselves, and why not? Sure, countless other bands should have, and eventually would have done it, but after more than a quarter century as musical manipulators, nobody has formally paid Sparks homage. The Mael brothers are the perfect guys for the job. In fact, they auditioned themselves just to be sure!
There are numerous records which would have been drastically different had Sparks not left America for Europe in 1972 to become a subliminal, steadfast, non-conformist fixture on the worldwide pop music scene, crossing over and reinventing every musical style imaginable across three decades.
Plagiarism was a means to introduce Sparks' younger fans to their long and incomparable history. The album, jam-packed with nineteen tracks, spans their catalogue from 1974 to 1994.
The Mael brothers' love of film surfaces on re-workings of "Something For the Girl With Everything" and "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both of Us". The complex orchestral arrangements coupled with their, grand and verbose lyrics, visually animate the songs. At once wacky (lyrically) and beautiful (melodically), these arrangements conjure up playful cartoon images. The unique, cinematic writing style of Ron Mael remains unrivaled. "Propaganda" now has four verses, and the beautiful "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth" is given a glorious, hallowed treatment with Russell seemingly joined by a choir of angels.
There are re-workings of 1980's tunes like "Funny Face", transformed from an up-beat pop song into a poignant ballad (quite amusing since the lyrics retain classic Sparks humor). Their French hit "When I'm With You" is not radically different here, yet it's been updated for the 90's. "Angst In My Pants" has a fresh new twist, a rockier synth-tinged sound which is a favorite among fans. "Change" is a four-minute honky-tonk cabaret symphony with three movements, utilizing at least twenty instruments. It's guaranteed to short-circuit your brain waves.
Plagiarism contains some collaborations; one with Erasure (a pure synth-pop version of "Amateur Hour") and two with Faith No More (once again, "Something For the Girl..." and "This Town..."). The combination of Russell's falsetto vocals and Mike Patton's grunting sounds like Bambi singing with Godzilla, but these speedy grunge/punk versions rock hard!
The only artists covered by Sparks in their lengthy career are the Beatles ("I Wanna Hold Your Hand"), Stevie Wonder ("Fingertips") and Rodgers & Hammerstein ("Do Re Mi"). They can now add themselves to this short, yet prestigious list."
A. Waysdorf | Seattle, WA USA | 06/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I didn't read the fine print very well when I purchased this album on a trip abroad, thinking it was a best-of. Instead, I found that I had bought something very different indeed, and it's better than a best-of could be. Normally I wouldn't have bought a remakes album, but the version of "This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us" with Faith No More (Mike Patton sounding a bit like the singer of Turbonegro in this case) is worth the £3.99 I paid for it. It is truly something spectacular and strange, and a fine addition to the Sparks catalogue. Highly recommended."