"Okay - one job I would NOT have liked would be to decide what material goes on this collection that is LIMITED to only 2 cd's. I counted and these guys were on 13 labels just up to this point (they just haven't caught on in the states, and refuse to release 'commercial' product). The tour starts with their early 70's works on Todd Rundgren's Bearsville label, with bandmates Jim Mankey (later fronting Concrete Blonde) and Earle Mankey (eventual producer and early mullet proponent). The songs are already showing the delightful and incisive humor ("Girl From Germany" where a Jewish boy's German girlfriend meets his critical parents) while shrouded in experimental pop-rock that still needed pruning. Lots of studio toying and effects on instruments would later yield to the might (and height)of their craft.The years with the Island label remain my favorites, and the main reason for purchasing this set if you're new to the Mael brothers' neighborhood. With top-notch band members and producers, they didn't get much better than "Happy Hunting Ground", a nostalgic ode to dating in school, or "At Home, At Work, At Play", the peak of their layered, aristocratic glam sound. Experiments with form start maturing here (the swing jazz of "Looks, Looks, Looks", the acapella 3-ring circus of "Propaganda") and a few b-sides from singles that never saw this side of the Atlantic are included - all winners. Most showcase the delightful combination of Ron Mael's dainty harpsichord-noodling and Russel Mael's operatic acrobatics within a tight glam-rock structure. Disc 2 moves into their all-out Disco phase (with Giorgio Moroder at the helm) which still represents some of the best music of that dubious genre (they even sounded great shrouded in synths - check out "Beat the Clock"!) Then on to my second favorite Sparks period, the Mack-produced early 80's, whose distinctive drumthud kept the beat moving while incorporating more guitars (yay!) and some imaginative keyboard layering. "Moustache" and "Tips for Teens" (featuring some of my favorite lyrics 'Don't eat that burger/Has it got mayonnaise?/Give it to me!') showcase another height in their prolific career. Later works become more dance-oriented again, losing the drum and guitar rock framework but none of the essential wit ("All You Ever Think About Is Sex").I would recommend hunting down all the full-length releases, but for starters you could just click on 'buy this item' for a fine musical history of a band that has endured with humor, grace, and creativity."
One of the all-time great British Pop Groups
Dennis Mccoy | California | 06/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this 2-CD set in the early '90's because I remembered seeing them on TV occasionaly in the early '70's. About every two years I rediscover Sparks in my collection and am amazed by their music. Some of it so good it makes my skin crawl! And this from a die-hard WHO fan. And although this collection doesn't do it justice, Sparks put out some of the most humorous record sleeves of anything I've ever seen. If you love British pop-rock and/or European synth music with a twist, discover (or rediscover) Sparks."
THIS is the BEST OF SPARKS
Dennis Mccoy | 06/21/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This two disk CD collection represents a comprehensive sampling of highlights from all of the groups' (Sparks essentially being Ron & Russell Mael and various band members and session men) albums from their first major release in the early 1970s to the early 1990s. This is an incredible achivement of behalf of Rhino Records, considering the number of record companies the group recorded for. The record does a terrific job of capturing the ever-changing sound of the group as it evolved from pre-punk rock, through glam rock, traditional rock, disco, back to hard rock, and finally synthesizer dance music. The one constant in their career is Ron's unique ability to write truly humorous lyrics. I dare you not to crack up hysterically as you listen to some of the songs on this collection.P.S. Another CD has been re-released, called Best of Sparks. It was originally released as a solo album, and later retitled. THIS collection is truly the BEST OF SPARKS."
Dennis Mccoy | 03/31/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think this would have been just that bit better if they had dropped 'Nothing to do' and 'Over the summer' and replaced them with 'Eaten by the monster of love' (an essential Sparks song) and 'Pulling rabbits out of a hat'. Having said that, everyone would have made a different selection, and this is a fine effort. It is also good to see that the under-rated 'Whomp that sucker' album is well represented by 'Tips for teens', 'Upstairs' and the strangely compelling 'Funny face'. Also benefits from the inlay having lyrics and photos, together with accompanying notes by Russell for each track, and an introduction by Ron. For a patient newcomer, this is an ideal introduction to the weird and wonderful world of Ron and Russell Mael, but would also be a good buy for the more experienced listener."
The Ultimate Collection!
Richard Martin | FLORIDA USA | 05/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Ultimate Sparks Collection" is the perfect title for this release, because that's exactly what it is. From the early works produced by Todd Rundgren to the Euro-Dance tracks they've created, this CD release is a great collection for music collectors everywhere. If you've never heard "Sparks" music before, this CD is a great introduction. Highlights include "Propaganda", a vocal piece of masterful overlays, "Looks, Looks, Looks" a Roaring Twenties style masterpiece and of course "Change" which Vocalist Russell Mael describes as one of the best things "Sparks" has ever done. Speaking of Russell, the liner notes for this collection are excellent, as well as the art work and photos that are included. If your a fan of "They Might Be Giants" or "The Cure" then check out the band that both sight as major influences on their careers. "Sparks""