F. M. Moses | Blacklick, Ohio United States | 01/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes...Sparks have had their share of negative criticism ever since 1979's "No. 1 Song in Heaven," but somewhere in there was a wave of new fans built on stylish dance beats and classic Mael humour! "No. 1. Song in Heaven" was not an ending of the band, but a vision of things to come. ...and so came the weak follow-up album "Terminal Jive" which was popular in France, but even less respected than the previous album. In 1981, the band returned to basics with "Whomp That Sucker" adding four new members: Leslie Bohem, Bob Haag, David Kendrick and Mack. Sparks sounded as good as the "Propaganda" years! To follow the "Whomp" album, the Mael brothers + the band recorded: "Angst in My Pants," "...In Outer Space," "Pulling Rabbits Out of the Hat". "Music That You Can Dance To" featured the same line-up + Robert Mache (played only on "Fingertips). Though "Whomp That Sucker" was a great follow-up to the good ole six-band line-up since "Big Beat," the songs from "Music That You Can Dance To" sounded as if they were left-overs from the classic "No.1 in Heaven"...this time with a six-piece band. This album is very 80's, yet it resembles Sparks at their best...sarcastic, witty, & full of fun! Before surround-sound, there was Sparks! Though the title track sounds just like a top-40 hit ignored by the masses, the rest of the album is indeed Sparks. Come on, the band had no interest of making hits...that's why they've succeeded after all of these years!"Fingertips" a take from a Stevie Wonder hit sounds just like it was meant for Sparks. The rest of the album is just stereophonic madness!! For fans of Sparks' disco era, it's the best thing since "No. 1 Song in Heaven." For those who enjoyed the early years...the originality still shines! This album is recommended to both Sparks beginners as well as those who might have lost faith in the band.Yes...it is a "Best of Sparks" the MCA year(1986), but if you could have a Sparks album on your label just once, wouldn't you be proud?"
Not a best of...
Wikholm Anders | Sweden | 01/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...but one of the best Sparks records ever, stupidly mislabeled by the record company. Very electronic, symphonic, and sometimes outright weird. Not for the amazingly conservative fan who believes Sparks should stick to "rock n' roll" though. "Rock & Roll? I'm sorry, we don't do that anymore!" (Russell Mael, Nov 27. 1999, Shepards Bush Empire, London). They haven't done it since 1976..."
This is NOT the Best of Sparks!
Wikholm Anders | 06/21/1998
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This album is simply a repackaging of an album called 'Music That You Can Dance To", and is not one of Sparks' best efforts. This synthesizer-laden effort is best directed to die-hard fans that like those kind of tunes. Traditional Sparks fans who enjoy Sparks' rock and roll side will be very disappointed. Lastly, the usually hysterical lyrics are almost totally absent here."
Great dance tracks - different animal.
SRFireside | Houston, TX United States | 03/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm one of the people who enjoyed Sparks' move to electronic music so for me this album rocks. The dance tracks are peppy and full of energy. The slower tracks are driving and deliberate. All of the songs show a level of musical precision you don't find very much with 80's dance groups. I won't go so far as to say they are master craftsmen of the genre, but I will say without a doubt they have their act together.
Two things I find interesting about this album. One is the engineering techniques. Every song is mastered and processed essentially the same way. Maybe it's just something a person with experience in a recording studio would catch, but it's like they use exact same plate reverb and chorus settings on the vocals for every track. Instrument tracks, with a couple of exceptions, feel the same way. While this does make the tracks all sound similar to each other in spite of the musical differences it also puts a foundation on every track that is akin to a signature sound.
The other thing I found was their copious use of the Fairlight, which back then was the Lamborghini of synthesizers and samplers. You will hear signature Fairlight orchestra hits and horns all throughout the album along with other little noises that were impressive back in the day. I don't recall any other albums before this having that sort of hardware, and I wonder if it was one of those situations where the studio they recorded in had that musician's toy handy. They don't necessarily overdo it with the big attack samples like so many did before when given this beast to play with, but it is noticeable.
Notable tracks are:
MUSIC THAT YOU CAN DANCE TO - This is of course the highlight of the album. Incredibly upbeat and easy to groove to. Bugs me that there is no backbeat like most 80's dance tracks, but that easily forgivable.
CHANGE - It's classic Sparks with their offbeat lyrics and uncommon song structure. It's a slower, driving song and has a nice message mixed in with the somewhat silly verses. Another gem.
THE SCENE - Probably my favorite song on the album. It moves from a sweeping anthemic dance groove to a punchy club groove and back again and forth again. Maybe I make the song sound like it shifts gears, but in reality it doesn't. That groove change is rather seamless and fits the song perfectly.
MODESTY PLAYS (New Version) - I have no idea what the old version sounded like, but this one sucks. Just a tiny bit too much going on, which distracts. I can't hear anything inspiring about the song structure either. Nope... doesn't do it for me.
LET'S GET FUNKY - Remember when I mentioned the fairlight's orchestra hits and how some bands overdo it? Well Sparks deliberately overdoes it on this song. This song sounds very much like something Stan Ridgeway of Wall of Voodoo would do (maybe the brothers Mael were inspired by him). Anyway the song is fun in it's strangeness.
If you are into 80's club music this album is a gem. If you are into electronic Sparks this album is well worth it too. As others have said this is NOT a Best Of album, but merely a reissue of a regular plain vanilla album from Sparks. Only this isn't plain vanilly musically. More like coffee caramel cream with chocolate sprinkles and strawberries on top."