Sparks Sparks Genres:Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock Sparks is actually the sibling duo of Ron & Russell Mael. They started out as the group Halfnelson but quickly changed their name to Sparks. They issued numerous charting albums through the 70s & 80s. Halfnelson was their ... more »:fIrst release, issued in 1971 on the Bearsville label, but it was quickly withdrawn and reissued as Sparks. It was produced by Todd Rundgren. Wounded Bird Records. 2005.« less
Sparks is actually the sibling duo of Ron & Russell Mael. They started out as the group Halfnelson but quickly changed their name to Sparks. They issued numerous charting albums through the 70s & 80s. Halfnelson was their :fIrst release, issued in 1971 on the Bearsville label, but it was quickly withdrawn and reissued as Sparks. It was produced by Todd Rundgren. Wounded Bird Records. 2005.
Kerry Leimer | Makawao, Hawaii United States | 01/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My first experience of Halfnelson, later Sparks, came courtesy of one of those "Various Artists" promotional albums. The track that was selected to represent the band was, of course, the least representative track from this, their debut album.
A near-novelty offering with its all-teen B-movie narrative intro, "Biology 2" is a song ostensibly about the gene pool -- for added measure, the song begins obligingly enough, down at the community pool -- that introduces us to that curious mix of lust, social pressure and low self esteem that later proves to be a guiding leitmotif of the Sparks catalog.
It's easy to imagine that anyone buying this record based on their exposure to "Biology 2" might be disappointed by an album that goes on to feature thinly veiled songs about incest, body fat considered in its relation to crucifixion and the struggle of a spent diva's avid fan to climb her fence and hit the high one. But then, what's not to love? This self-titled first album manages to scratch enough of the surface of one of rock's most oddly-expressive and prurient band of brothers so that we few listeners are exposed to an alternate reality no-one else dares or cares to address. It's also a chance to witness the emergence of a style that seems never to be duplicated. From the near soprano voice of Russell Mael and the meticulously structured compositions of brother Ron Mael, a new kind of pop starts to emerge. Still preoccupied with the traditional "I'm a boy and you're a girl" song settings, but in such persistently and hilariously unhealthy ways.
If you know how to listen to Sparks, you need to listen to their genesis. Or at least how they started."
A Great Beginning
Patrick W. Schubert | Santa Ana, California United States | 11/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The music contained on Sparks' debut LP is so unique and ahead of its time that, even 30 plus years and myriad musical developments and trends later, it remains original and difficult to pigeon hole. There is some resemblence to Roxy Music of the same era as well as Eno's subsequent solo records. There also may be a passing resemblence to same-era Zappa and pre-breakthrough Alice Cooper. But where the music of those artists, while often brilliant, can come across as weird for weirdness sake, The Mael brother's warped compositions appear organically eccentric, yet strangely accessable. In this respect, their music may be more akin-if not so much in sound, then execution- to The Incredible String Band. In any case, this is some truly imaginative and eclectic material. The songs run the gamut from such melodic and straightforward pop fare as "Slowboat" and "Wonder Girl" to the incredibly strange and facinating "Biology 2". Sparks would soon go on to conquer England with one of the greatest back to back musical efforts ever in KIMONO MY HOUSE and PROPAGANDA. And, while those two albums largely eclipse the material on this LP as well as its follow up, it is still no less essential."
Prior experience required
Adam Wacholder | NYC | 11/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, you should buy "Kimono My House". Then, become a true fan of the group Sparks. Only after these missions are complete may you venture forth upon a puchase of this historical debut. [Produced by Tod Rundgren][Look out for a used copy of the "Sparks/A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing/Plaigarism" two-disc combo.]"
It made a permanent spark on my musical taste
B. E Jackson | Pennsylvania | 03/28/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sparks was very underrated back in the day. They had a talent for writing memorable songs left and right, and they are truly deserveing of the underrated tag if you ask me. If for nothing else, they were very consistent and there's NO filler on the debut album.
Not only that, but they have a distinct sound to their songwriting skills. They don't sound like Sweet, they don't sound like Badfinger, they don't sound like ELO, and they certainly don't sound like 10cc. So that makes Sparks unique in my eyes.
Sure, they don't contain the same level of diversity as say, the Beatles or David Bowie. But they are very good musicians who write very catchy songs, and that's really all you need in a pop band.
Highlights include the brightly danceable "Fa La Fa Lee", the delicately paced "Simple Ballet", and the spooky and haunting "Saccharin and the War". I can almost guarantee anyone who likes early 70's pop rock will love most of the songs on the debut album."