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SPARKS

Sparks

Crossover Prog


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Sparks Sparks album cover
4.05 | 18 ratings | 2 reviews | 6% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Wonder Girl (2:20)
2. Fa La Fa Lee (2:53)
3. Roger (2:37)
4. High C (3:12)
5. Fletcher Honorama (4:15)
6. Simple Ballet (3:52)
7. Slowboat (3:54)
8. Biology 2 (3:09)
9. Saccharin and the War (4:02)
10. Big Bands (4:15)
11. (No More) Mr. Nice Guys (5:47)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Harley Feinstein / drums
- Ron Mael / organ, piano, keyboards, vocals
- Russell Mael / vocals
- Earle Mankey / guitar, vocals (8)
- James Mankey / bass, guitar



Releases information

Reunion records

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Introducing Sparks (Russell Sleeve)Introducing Sparks (Russell Sleeve)
Lil Beethoven 2008
Audio CD$9.86
$73.03 (used)
Sparks - Lil' Beethoven / Live in StockholmSparks - Lil' Beethoven / Live in Stockholm
Multiple Formats
Standing Room Only 2005
DVD$14.95
$8.50 (used)
Profile-Ultimate Sparks CollectionProfile-Ultimate Sparks Collection
EMI Distribution 1991
Audio Cassette$17.51
$1.98 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Joni Mitchell 5LP LOT Don Juan Ladies Of Canyon Court & Spark Mingus Dog Eat Dog USD $8.50 [3 bids]
45m 39s
A NEW GENERATION - SMOKEY BLUE'S AWAY - 7" VINYL SINGLE, SPARK SRL 1007,1968, UK USD $12.43 Buy It Now 46m 30s
QUESTIONS Tear Soup 7" B/w The Vital Spark Pic Sleeve UK Respond 1983 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 47m 31s
SPARKS Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth 7" B/w Alabamy Right UK Island 1974 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 48m 5s
SPARKS Get In The Swing 7" B/w Profile UK Island 1975 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 49m 27s
SPARKS Get In The Swing 7" Dj Promo B/w Profile Sticker On Label UK Island 1975 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 49m 31s
SPARKS Looks Looks Looks 7" B/w Pineapple UK Island 1975 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 49m 35s
PEPPERS Pepper Box 7" Promo B/w Pinch Of Salt UK Spark 1973 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 49m 37s
SPARKS Something For The Girl With Everything 7" B/w Marry Me UK Island 1974 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 49m 43s
PEPPERS Do It Do It 7" B/w Hot Caramel UK Spark 1974 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 49m 53s
PEPPERS Do It Do It 7" Promo B/w Hot Caramel UK Spark 1974 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 49m 57s
PEPPERS Doctor Music 7" B/w Blue Ballade UK Spark 1974 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 50m
TOMMY HUNT Crackin' Up 7" 4 Pronged Centre Label Design B/w Get Out UK Spark 19 USD $16.40 Buy It Now 50m 51s
TOMMY HUNT Crackin' Up 7" B/w Get Out UK Spark 1975 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 52m 9s
SPARKS Funny Face 7" B/w Don't Shoot Me Pic Sleeve GERMAN Ariola 1981 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 52m 29s
WIGANS OVATION Super Love 7" B/w Stand In Line UK Spark 1975 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 54m 36s
OWEN PAUL Bring Me Back That Spark 7" B/w A Feeling Pic Sleeve UK Epic 1987 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 54m 45s
NEW - Jordin Sparks by Jordin Sparks USD $1.95 Buy It Now 54m 58s
NEW - Battlefield by Jordin Sparks USD $1.48 Buy It Now 55m 34s
NEW - Sparks Fly by Miranda Cosgrove USD $0.99 Buy It Now 55m 52s
WIGANS OVATION Per-so-nal-ly 7" B/w Be With Me Tonight UK Spark 1975 USD $8.19 Buy It Now 57m 6s
WILLIAMS BROTHERS Some Become Strangers 7" B/w Spark Of Life Pic Sleeve UK Warn USD $8.19 Buy It Now 57m 34s
Miss Fortune - A Spark To Believe NEW CD USD $13.73 Buy It Now 57m 45s
SPARKS- BEAT THE CLOCK VINYL 7" 45RPM P/S USD $1.95 Buy It Now 1h
Sparks (Halfnelson) & A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothi - Sparks (CD Used Very Good) USD $13.86 Buy It Now 1h 10m
Sparks Greek Theatre 16" x 12" Photo Repro Concert Poster USD $7.82 Buy It Now 1h 25m
DEEP PURPLE Spark Sampler promo licensening sampler CD USD $14.99 [0 bids]
1h 35m
TIGERBOMBS 7" vinyl record 1000 SPARKS ---lot 324 USD $14.04 Buy It Now 1h 39m
BOOGIE 12" Elektrik Sparks Band-can't stop the phrock PRETTY PEARL;RARE;LISTEN!! USD $9.99 [0 bids]
1h 43m
Bearsville Sampler promo CD Todd Rundgren, Foghat, Sparks, Bobby Charles USD $1.99 [1 bids]
1h 46m
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Joni Mitchell - Court & Spark - with inner- free UK postage USD $24.39 Buy It Now 2h
SPARKS Propaganda LP Island 1974 exc USD $6.24 [0 bids]
2h 2m
SPARKS RUSSELL MAEL 10x8 inch lab-printed glossy photo P/0545 USD $6.25 Buy It Now 2h 13m
Graham Parker - Squeezing Out Sparks 1979 LP USD $9.30 Buy It Now 2h 17m
DAVE DOUGLAS & KEYSTONE ~ SPARK OF BEING [3 CD BOXSET} USD $19.99 Buy It Now 2h 35m
The Spark [Digipak] by Chop Chop (CD, Jan-2011) USD $12.97 Buy It Now 2h 49m
SPARKS Lighten Up Morrissey 2009 UK 2-trk promo CD MINT USD $6.24 Buy It Now 2h 53m
SPARKS - When I Kiss You (I Hear Charlie Parker Playing) - HOUSE 12" Still Seale USD $11.99 Buy It Now 3h 2m
Prarie Fire One Spark EP 33 1/3 Record #174 NM PS 1974 USD $20.00 Buy It Now 3h 5m
Traffic The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys LP SW-9306 USD $8.88 Buy It Now 3h 15m
Jordin Sparks S.O.S. (Let the Music Play: Remixes) RARE 12 track promo CD EP '09 USD $9.99 Buy It Now 3h 24m
SPARKS 12 Inch Single Fingertips_The Scene 1986 Curb USD $5.00 Buy It Now 3h 39m
Beachwood Sparks, The Tarnished Gold USD $2.33 Buy It Now 3h 42m
SPARKS - NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON MOTHER EARTH 7" VINYL USD $6.24 Buy It Now 4h 11m
SPARKS - THIS TOWN AIN'T BIG ENOUGH FOR THE BOTH OF US 7" VINYL USD $8.58 Buy It Now 4h 11m
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Beachwood Sparks Beachwood Sparks PROM CD SUB POP !$ SONGS IN SLIP CASE USD $8.74 Buy It Now 4h 31m
Lonesome & Then Some-Classic 50th - Larry Sparks (CD Used Very Good) USD $11.88 Buy It Now 4h 33m
Court & Spark - Joni Mitchell (CD Used Very Good) Hdcd USD $3.85 Buy It Now 4h 37m
New Crack City - Clinton & Busta Rhymes Sparks (CD Used Very Good) USD $16.89 Buy It Now 4h 41m
PRAIRIE FIRE MARK ISHAM~ THE KRUGERRAND / GOT TO FIGHT IT~ ONE SPARK 278 USD $39.99 Buy It Now 4h 46m
MINNY POPS - Sparks in a Dark Room [Bonus Tracks] CD USD $5.00 [0 bids]
USD $10.00 Buy It Now
4h 50m
(CD) JONI MITCHELL - Court And Spark / Japan Import / 32XD-970 USD $24.99 Buy It Now 4h 56m
GRAHAM PARKER AND THE RUMOUR SQUEEZING OUT SPARKS ARISTA AB 4223 (1979) (EX)* USD $2.99 Buy It Now 5h 2m
Sparks - Sparks (Halfnelson) & A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothi [CD New] USD $15.86 Buy It Now 5h 4m
JONI MITCHELL-COURT AND SPARK 1974 ASYLUM RECORDS GATEFOLD LP 7E-1001 VG++ USD $8.99 Buy It Now 5h 11m
Sparks 70s ROCK DJ RED VINYL LP Introducing STEREO USA ISSUE WHITE LABEL USD $29.98 Buy It Now 5h 17m
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Ramblin' Bluegrass by Larry Sparks (CD, Apr-2008, Gusto Records) USD $10.00 Buy It Now 6h 55m
MELVIN SPARKS "Akilah" jazz funk LP on PRESTIGE nice original USD $33.00 Buy It Now 7h
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7h 18m
TRAFFIC ISLAND 90026-1 LP THE LOW SPARK OF HIGH HEELED BOYS W/ SHAPED COVER / M- USD $6.95 Buy It Now 7h 26m
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SPARKS When Do I Get To Sing My Way LP LOGIC RECORDS LUS010 US 1995 12" VG++ USD $9.89 Buy It Now 7h 34m
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Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat by Sparks (CD, Oct-1998, Oglio Records) USD $19.92 Buy It Now 8h 17m
Reviving Spark by The Shambles (90's) (CD, 1997, Get Hip) USD $19.99 Buy It Now 8h 25m
TRAFFIC. THE LOW SPARK OF HIGHT HEELED BOYS. ISLAND. 90026-1. 1983. BLUES ROCK USD $3.99 Buy It Now 8h 46m
Tommy - The Who 8 Track Tape Cartridge Decca 6-2500 Overture Sparks Welcome USD $8.95 Buy It Now 9h 3m
SPARKS KIMONO MY HOUSE (1974) JAPAN CD PHCR-6717 USD $22.99 Buy It Now 9h 17m
Valley Girl Soundtrack CD Rhino Plimsouls Josie Cotton Sparks Felony The Fanatic USD $8.98 Buy It Now 9h 19m
L'Homme Robotik by Spark Lights the Friction (CD, Aug-2001, Trustkill) USD $2.99 Buy It Now 9h 38m
MELVIN SPARKS w/ HOUSTON PERSON CD - WE OWE IT ALL TO LOVE (Rare, Out of Print) USD $39.00 Buy It Now 9h 55m
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SPARKS*PROPAGANDA (REMASTERED WITH BONUS MATERIAL)*CD USD $11.79 Buy It Now 11h 50m
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LARRY SPARKS Thank You Lord Devotional Bluegrass HOMEST USD $15.00 Buy It Now 12h 11m
Peppers Doctor Music 7" vinyl single record UK SRL1119 SPARK 1974 USD $15.54 Buy It Now 12h 11m
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12h 24m
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SPARKS Sparks ratings distribution


4.05
(18 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
6%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
33%
Good, but non-essential (39%)
39%
Collectors/fans only (11%)
11%
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)
11%

SPARKS Sparks reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Nobody could have quite realized how much back then, but pairing up Todd Rundgren with Sparks (at the time called Halfnelson, and the debut album originally had that name as well) was a match made in heaven. From the beginning, Sparks had an eccentric, bizarre vision of what rock music could sound like, and it helped immensely to have a producer in place who would accentuate rather than mute that vision. When people rave about how remarkably similar to New Wave music this album sounds despite the fact that it comes from the beginning of the 70s rather than the end, this praise is as much a comment on the fun and games in the production (which would have sounded commonplace in ten years but would have been startling to any contemporary listeners) as on the songs and styles of the album. Naturally, the album sold horribly and Rundgren was replaced for the second album, but time heals all wounds, and the album now stands out as an ahead-of-its-time enjoyable marvel.

The one track on this album that I've never been able to get behind is "Biology 2," but it should be noted that it's by guitarist Earle Mankey, and it doesn't even have Russell on vocals (Earle is responsible for the chipmunk falsetto in this one). It really sounds like a bad parody of every negative stereotype one could associate with the band; it's based around one of the worst clunky guitar riffs I've ever heard from a band I like, and it has high-pitched vocals singing incomprehensible lyrics about reproductive biology on the cellular level. Ok, I'll admit, I allow myself a dumbass smirk at "Oh hold me, you know you are my one and only phenotype, and together we could have a genotype," but I always prefer to skip it, and the album would be noticeably better without it.

The album's pretty amazing aside from that track, fortunately. Two of the tracks, "Roger" and "Saccharin and the War," were penned by Russell, and my mind tends to file them away as "minor" tracks, but they're still interesting. The lyrics to "Roger" are completely incomprehensible even when I'm reading them (hilariously, in the liner notes of my edition of the album, Ron says he doesn't understand the song), but I'm rather interested by the mix of piano, goofy keyboard sounds, and above all that weird loping riff that could be a guitar or a keyboard but still sounds incredibly bizzare either way. "Saccharin and the War" has its own set of interesting-but-bewildering lyrics, but the main appeal is definitely in the music, which starts off as centered around a warm-sounding set of guitar lines and loud bass before turning into a rousing piano-driven coda over that same loud bass and pounding drums.

The rest of the album features credits for Ron Mael, with a few shared by Russell ("Simple Ballet," "Slowboat," "Big Bands") and one shared by bassist Jim Mankey ("(No More) Mr. Nice Guys"), and it's all great to some degree or another. In the hands of a less eccentric group, the great chorus and harmonies of "Wonder Girl" would likely have been grafted into a more conventional power-pop framework, with the lyrics in the verses swapped out for something else. Instead, the sole guitar lick (props to Mark Prindle for catching that it's the first line to "Happy Trails") pops in and out sporadically, and the music mostly centers around drums jumping from channel, light music-hall piano and multiple Russells singing lines like "She was a wonder to her dad / A self-made man who owned all that he had / And after all, self-made men have daughters who just won't ball." The music of "Fa La Fa Lee" is based around a lost Cars outtake that the brothers Mael found after stealing a time machine, reworked to have some gnarly chord sequences, a guitar part that should be followed by a cry of "Charge!" immediately thereafter, a silly bass solo near the end, and a bunch of other things. Oh, and the lyrics are a lament about not being able to commit incest with one's sister because it's against the law.

Three of the remaining tracks are about music in some way: "High C" is about a former opera singer who has had difficulty adjusting to post-fame life; "Simple Ballet" is about creating a ballet for public consumption; "Big Bands" is about a former big band performer who loves the occasions when he still hears this kind of music. "High C" was Ron's favorite track from the first two albums, and that's a perfectly defensible position, even if I don't entirely share the sentiment. Musically, it's a fascinating mix of alternately menacing and jittery keyboards, pounding drums (where some of the drum breaks sound transplanted from a frantic heavy metal passage), one of the weirdest doo-wop vocal sections imaginable, and a one-second guitar part near the beginning unlike anything I can remember hearing. "Simple Ballet" sounds like a music box tune arranged for a full rock band, and there some guitar harmonics in the track that are absolutely beautiful. "Big Bands" is multi-part and its music has nothing to do with its lyrical content; it starts off based around vaudeville piano with touches of guitar here and there, before the vaudeville piano is replaced by a guitar playing jittery notes while the drums build up in volume, and finally finishing with a proto-New Wave fast part that could be considered obnoxious but sounds fine to me.

Elsewhere, "Fletcher Honorama" sounds like gibberish but isn't really (it's about a bunch of friends of Fletcher's essentially getting together for a wake before his death and hoping that he doesn't die and ruin their party), and the music is haunting in a subdued way that really reminds me a lot, in terms of atmosphere, of Dylan's "Visons of Johanna." Quiet organ giving way into soothing music-hall piano, subtle guitar textures and gentle singing dominate the bulk of the song, until the last minute when "So be sure so be sure that the boy don't die before the moooorn" starts being repeated as an ever-loudening mantra. On the other side of "Simple Ballet" comes "Slowboat," a beautiful piano-dominated anthemic ballad that would have been a huge hit in a just world. Maybe there are some goofy guitar (or keyboard maybe?) noises in the middle, but that shouldn't have been enough to hold back a song with a vocal melody that feels so compact and yet so expansive (these should be contradictory descriptions but somehow they're not), and the guitar solo that dominates the last minute is a perfect capstone. Finally, there's the album closer "(No More) Mr. Nice Guys," which shows the band doing its best to make a heavy rocker with what's essentially a jangle guitar tone. I admit that the incongruity between the implicit heaviness and the relatively wimpy guitar tone sounds a little goofy, and I've come across people who hate this song largely for this reason. That said, I think the noisy guitar solo in the middle is every bit as effective as a more traditionally heavy metal solo would be, and I like how nasty Russell makes his voice in parts (especially whenever he sings "The Nice Guys cannot and the Nice Guys shall not, the Nice Guys will not win / won't suffice"), and I find the song pretty great overall.

While I wouldn't quite call this the band's best (by the slightest margin, I would say that the high points on Kimono move that one beyond this), I would definitely say that anybody who considers themselves a serious rock historian needs to hear this album a couple of times. It's definitely an album that somebody could reasonably dislike were they so inclined (possible complaints: too twee, too nonsensical, "Biology 2" is the worst thing ever written), but even as my fandom of the band has tempered through the years, I've found that this one still holds up really well for me. If you don't like this or Kimono, Sparks is probably not for you.

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Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Before Sparks were Sparks, they got together with Todd Rundgren to create this debut album originally issued under the band's old name of Halfnelson. The askew Mael brothers approach to glam rock is already in evidence, and whilst it doesn't quite hit the distinctive operatic hysteria of Kimono My House it's still a credible entry in the band's discography. The flow is interrupted by Biology 2, a ditty by guitarist Earle Mankey that includes rhymes such as "phenotype" and "genotype" which ticks the "weird" box but not the "catchy" box, and if it ain't weirdly catchy arguably it isn't Sparks, but otherwise a fine debut.

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