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Sparks - Plagiarism CD (album) cover

PLAGIARISM

Sparks

 

Crossover Prog

2.95 | 3 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
3 stars An interesting marking-time album, but a marking-time album nonetheless, and a bit of a wasted opportunity. As suggested by the title, this is a self-covers album, offering the chance to revist songs from various points in the band's career. Tony Visconti returns to the fold, and he provides choral and orchestral arrangements for several songs, including "Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat," "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" (which also has an additional verse) "When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way'?," "Change" (which sounds hilarious when given a marching band treatment), "Something For The Girl With Everything," "Propaganda" (which is expanded into a full 2:35 song and loses some of its charm), "The Number One Song In Heaven" and "Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth." Out of these, the most revelatory version is definitely the opening "Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat," where the strings provide an oomph that the original synths could only hint at. There are also rearrangements of "Funny Face" (slowed down and given an acoustic guitar, to poignant effect), "Angst in My Pants" (not much more interesting than before), "Popularity" (similar to the original but with updated keyboard sounds), "Beat the Clock" (not that different from before), "Big Brass Ring" (which sounds much better in this 4:20 version than it did as a throwaway bonus track on Interior Design), "Amateur Hour" (stripping away the glam pop versions and replacing it with more standard synth pop), and "When I'm With You" (essentially the same as before). There are also additional covers of "This Town..." and "Something for the Girl With Everything" which feature backing by Faith No More, and it's definitely a jarring experience to hear the juxtaposition of Russell's vocals with those of Mike Patton. Also, in addition to the orchestrated cover of "The Number One Song in Heaven" (which covers the first half of the original), there's also a separate cover of part two of the same song.

So ok, it's a good effort, and one's expectations need to be tempered with a self-covers album, but I feel like the group could have done a little more with this project. In the 19 tracks (18 if you exclude "Orchestral Collage," which is basically just an extended introduction to the orchestrated "Number One Song in Heaven"), there are three tracks from Kimono (the two "This Town" versions plus "Amateur Hour"), four tracks from Propaganda (two versions of "Something for the Girl With Everything," one each of "Propaganda" and "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth") and three tracks from No. 1 In Heaven ("Beat the Clock" and the two parts of "Number One Song in Heaven"). This left a total of eight tracks for the rest of the band's career, one of which is devoted to "When Do I Get to Sing 'My Way'?" (which was only three years old) and seven of which came from the 80s (and only some of which sound drastically different). These choices strike me as way too cautious on the whole; maybe this was the kind of material that the band was explicitly trying to emphasize as its legacy at this point, but I wish they'd been willing to poke into other corners of their past. Still, it's an enjoyable listen in the moment, and while it appears to be out of print at this writing, it's available for cheap in legal download form, and it's worth hearing for any fan of the band.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |

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