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SPARKS

Sparks

Crossover Prog


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Sparks Sparks album cover
4.05 | 20 ratings | 2 reviews | 5% 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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Buy SPARKS Sparks Music


SPARKS - KIMONO MY HOUSE / PROPAGANDASPARKS - KIMONO MY HOUSE / PROPAGANDA
Universal (Universal Music)
Audio CD$10.14 (used)
Sparks / Woofer in Tweeter's ClothingSparks / Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing
Import
Edsel Records UK 2013
Audio CD$10.64
$14.22 (used)
Sparks - Live in LondonSparks - Live in London
Oglio Records 2001
DVD$9.99
$18.10 (used)
Sparks - Lil' Beethoven / Live in StockholmSparks - Lil' Beethoven / Live in Stockholm
Multiple Formats
Standing Room Only 2005
DVD$14.95
$8.95 (used)
Introducing Sparks (Russell Sleeve)Introducing Sparks (Russell Sleeve)
Lil Beethoven 2008
Audio CD$10.54
$98.00 (used)
Best Of Sparks, The: Music That You Can Dance ToBest Of Sparks, The: Music That You Can Dance To
CURB 2011
Audio CD$3.90
$0.99 (used)
Profile-Ultimate Sparks CollectionProfile-Ultimate Sparks Collection
EMI Distribution 1991
Audio Cassette$17.51
$4.99 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
EDITORS All Sparks CD 2 Track B/w Diplomat EUROPEAN Kitchenware 2006 USD $7.79 Buy It Now 30m 13s
EMF They're Here CD 3 Track B/w Phantasmagoria And Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys USD $3.12 Buy It Now 30m 16s
LARRIKIN LOVE Freedom Spark CD 11 Track EUROPEAN Infectious 2006 USD $7.79 Buy It Now 32m 21s
DARREN HAYES Tension And The Spark CD 13 Track UK ISSUE MADE IN AUSTRIA Columbi USD $7.79 Buy It Now 32m 41s
JORDIN SPARKS S/t CD 13 Track EUROPEAN 19 2007 USD $7.79 Buy It Now 34m 17s
EVINRUDES Drive Me Home CD 6 Track UK Flying Sparks 2001 USD $1.95 Buy It Now 36m 3s
JORDIN SPARKS No Air CD 2 Track B/w Save Me EUROPEAN 19 2008 USD $7.79 Buy It Now 36m 18s
Sparks - - Revival Rock & Roll/Rockabilly USD $24.45 Buy It Now 36m 32s
MIRANDA COSGROVE-SPARKS FLY JAPAN EDITION-JAPAN CD BONUS TRACK E25 USD $20.50 Buy It Now 36m 55s
Sparks, Larry - Ramblin' Bluegrass - Bluegrass USD $12.50 Buy It Now 37m 37s
Sparks, Larry - Kentucky Banjo (& Lonesome Ramblers) - Bluegrass USD $12.50 Buy It Now 37m 48s
Sparks, Larry - Almost Home (2011) - Bluegrass USD $23.19 Buy It Now 38m 11s
SEA FRUIT Looking For Sparks CD 3 Track In Card Sleeve B/w Truth Or Lies And You USD $7.79 Buy It Now 38m 39s
ROLLING STONES Out Of Tears CD 4 Track Don Was Edit B/w I'm Gonna Drive, Sparks USD $7.79 Buy It Now 38m 52s
RARE VINTAGE COURT AND SPARK JONI MITCHELL LP USD $14.40 Buy It Now 39m 48s
SEA FRUIT Looking For Sparks CD 3 Track With Info Stickered Card Sleeve B/w Trut USD $7.79 Buy It Now 39m 52s
TORI AMOS SPARK CD SINGLE 2 MIX PROMO PIC CD + P/S GERMAN USD $12.48 Buy It Now 39m 55s
GORDON HASKELL Shadows On The Wall CD 12 Track UK Flying Sparks 2002 USD $9.82 Buy It Now 40m 19s
LOW SPARKS Out Here In The Words CD 4 Track Ep In Digi Pack Featuring She Was Al USD $3.90 Buy It Now 41m 41s
WOODSTAR Cold Cold Heart CD 3 Track B/w Life Spark Red Flame And Love Than Hate USD $9.35 Buy It Now 41m 55s
SPARK FEATURING MARKELL I Dream Of U Baby CD 2 Track New Radio Edit Promo B/w Or USD $7.79 Buy It Now 41m 56s
SPARKS When Do I Get To Sing My Way CD 4 Track Grid Radio Edit In Red Sleeve B/w USD $7.79 Buy It Now 42m 10s
STEWBOSS A Little Goes A Long Way CD 3 Track UK Flying Sparks 2002 USD $7.79 Buy It Now 42m 34s
SPARKS When Do I Get To Sing My Way CD 4 Track Sparks Radio Edit Yellow Sleeve D USD $7.79 Buy It Now 42m 47s
SPARKS When I Kiss You CD 5 Track Radio Edit B/w Red Jerry Remix, When I Dub You USD $7.79 Buy It Now 42m 52s
NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS LP Randy Sparks Ramblin' NEAR MINT VINYL FREE SHIPPING USD $9.99 [0 bids]
USD $12.99 Buy It Now
46m 32s
UNCUT NEW MUSIC 2006 COMPILATION ROCK CD SPARKS PLAN B MEW NEKO CASE USD $2.34 [0 bids]
47m 27s
TOMMY SPARKS - MIRACLE (RADIO EDIT) 1 TRK CD SINGLE PROMO USD $4.67 Buy It Now 52m
Sparks signed cd - " so important" in ok condition. USD $31.19 [0 bids]
52m 17s
DAYSPRING COLLECTIVE SPARK CD 9 TRACK 1997 USA USD $12.48 Buy It Now 56m 23s
SPARKS 'INDISCREET' GATEFOLD LP - 1st UK Press 1975 Island inc Lyrics - ILPS9345 USD $15.59 Buy It Now 57m 46s
SPARKS WHEN I KISS YOU CD SINGLE 4 TRACK EC USD $9.36 Buy It Now 58m 13s
Sparks cd - Balls - Australian exclusive edition.In great condition. USD $54.60 [0 bids]
58m 23s
Rare Bluegrass LP - Larry Sparks - John Deere Tractor - SEALED - Rebel # 1588 USD $7.99 [1 bids]
1h 3m
Clinton Sparks - Run This City [Vinyl New] USD $6.87 Buy It Now 1h 4m
3 RARE Sparks CDs: Propaganda / Kimono My House / No. 1 In Heaven USD $9.99 [1 bids]
1h 5m
Rare - Sparks " acute candidate" cd with video footage cartoon. USD $31.19 [0 bids]
1h 7m
Sparks - Young Girls - 12" Vinyl USD $1.54 [0 bids]
1h 9m
SPARKS, SPARKS, 1974, VERY GOOD+ CONDITION USD $14.03 [0 bids]
1h 21m
CASHLESS - FROM SPARKS TO FIRE CD ROCK HARD ROCK NEW+ USD $20.06 Buy It Now 1h 25m
SPARKS, GIRL FROM GERMANY, BEAVER O'LINDY, 1973, EXCELLENT CONDITION USD $10.91 [0 bids]
1h 30m
Sparks -Digi- Fiction Plane Audio CD USD $5.23 Buy It Now 1h 31m
CHRIS DE BURGH ~ Job Lot 2 x CD ~ Into Light, Spark To Flame USD $1.54 [0 bids]
1h 35m
A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing Sparks CD USD $47.38 Buy It Now 1h 43m
GRAHAM PARKER SQUEEZING OUT SPARKS 1979 UK VERTIGO 9102 030 1Y//3 2Y//3 USD $15.59 Buy It Now 1h 47m
GRAHAM PARKER & THE RUMOUR - Squeezing Out Sparks/Live Sparks (Arista CD 1996) USD $7.80 [0 bids]
1h 58m
Fright Night OST J. Giels Brad Fiedel Ian Hunter Sparks US Orig CBS 1985 EX+! USD $22.72 [2 bids]
2h
SPARKS TRYOUTS FOR THE HUMAN RACE 1979 VIRGIN PIC SLEEVE 45 V2115 USD $7.79 Buy It Now 2h
Sparks The number one song in heaven UK virgin 7" 45 vs244 USD $7.79 Buy It Now 2h
SPARKS GET IN THE SWING PINK RIM ISLAND 45 WIP 6236 USD $6.23 Buy It Now 2h
Soul Spark by Head Of David Vinyl EP Record USD $10.97 Buy It Now 2h 8m
Sparks clock - the number one song in heaven 7" vinyl record clock gift USD $15.59 Buy It Now 2h 8m
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CHRIS DE BURGH - SPARK TO A FLAME (THE VERY BEST OF) - Vinyl LP The Lady in Red USD $1.54 [0 bids]
2h 15m
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NORTHERN-VAL McKENNA-LOVE FEELING/ITS ALL IN MY IMAGINATION-UK SPARK USD $3.11 [1 bids]
2h 17m
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2h 34m
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Sparks WITHDRAWN New Zealand Island 45 I Want To Hold Your Hand USD $31.21 [0 bids]
2h 40m
Rare Avante Garde Jazz LP Philip Wachsmann Sparks Desire Magneto NM USD $55.00 Buy It Now 2h 40m
CD Single - Spark, Tori Amos USD $1.56 [0 bids]
2h 53m
SPARKS 7"single TRYOUTS FOR THE HUMAN RACE USD $5.31 Buy It Now 2h 54m
Airport 5 Tower In Fountain Of Sparks LP vinyl GUIDED BY VOICES ROBERT POLLARD USD $20.00 [0 bids]
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2h 59m
" WHEN WE WERE YOUNG. " two sparks. MOODISC JA BLANK 7in 1969. USD $31.13 [1 bids]
3h 2m
SPARKS Kimono my house NM- ORIGINAL CANADA 1974 Island ILPS 9272 Vinyl LP Sleeve USD $22.29 [0 bids]
3h 5m
Sparks - Hello Young Lovers CD: 2006 Gut Records USD $0.02 [1 bids]
3h 5m
CD. THE CATHERINE WHEEL - SPARKS ARE GONNA FLY VERY RARE Gatefold UK PROMO USD $1.86 [0 bids]
3h 6m
CANADA 1983 NEW WAVE 45 RPM SPARKS AND JANE WIEDLIN : COOL PLACES + SPORTS USD $6.99 [1 bids]
3h 8m
2001 Gordon Haskell How Wonderful You Are/ A Little Help From You Flying Sparks USD $1.56 [0 bids]
3h 8m
Jeremy Taylor - Come To Blackpool SRLP 115 UK LP 1975 Spark + Insert USD $13.25 Buy It Now 3h 8m
JONI MITCHELL Court & Spark LP OOP mid-70's folk-rock gatefold-cover USD $2.99 Buy It Now 3h 19m
John Anaya : Wasting the Spark CD (2004) USD $9.98 Buy It Now 3h 23m
Joni Mitchell Court and Spark LP sealed 180 gm Rhino Vinyl RE reissue gatefold USD $26.98 Buy It Now 3h 30m
TREVOR SPARK- ALL NIGHT / LOVE THAT I NEED- GYAS UK REGGAE 12" USD $1.54 [0 bids]
3h 34m
JORDIN SPARKS Battlefield ( 14 Great Tracks ) Mint USD $3.11 [0 bids]
3h 38m
THE LOTUS EATERS SOUL IN SPARKS ARISTA UK 45 MPORT USD $6.00 [0 bids]
3h 38m
SPARKS WHOMP THAT SUCKER 1981 UK PRESS A1/B1 WHY FI RECORDS WHO 1 EX/EX USD $7.04 [3 bids]
3h 44m
SPARKS Young Girls VS34312 12" Bc3544 USD $7.99 [0 bids]
3h 51m
SPARKS Kimono My House AN7044 LP Bc8354 USD $7.99 [0 bids]
3h 51m
SPARKS The Best Of Sparks 25 026ET LP Bc1511 USD $7.99 [0 bids]
3h 51m
SPARKS Sparks In Outer Space 78-0055-1 LP Bc8431 USD $7.99 [0 bids]
3h 53m
The New Christy Minstrels Under the Direction of Randy Sparks CS 8672 G+ / VG USD $7.99 Buy It Now 3h 59m
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Rare Joni Mitchell LP Court And Spark USD $7.99 [0 bids]
4h 19m
Spark - Natalie Walker (CD Used Very Good) USD $13.82 Buy It Now 4h 47m
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Reggae 45 LLOYD SPARKS You Don't Care HIGH SCHOOL HEAR USD $8.00 [1 bids]
5h 18m
Saint Innocent's Academy presents Sparks Among The Stubble (CD,Saint Innocent's) USD $11.99 Buy It Now 5h 19m
THE SPARKS SELF TITLED ST & A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing 2 on 1 CD 1999 USD $84.99 Buy It Now 5h 21m
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SPARKS The Best Of Sparks: Music That You Can Dance To MINT CONDITION USD $3.99 [0 bids]
USD $5.99 Buy It Now
5h 45m


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SPARKS Sparks ratings distribution


4.05
(20 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
5%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
40%
Good, but non-essential (35%)
35%
Collectors/fans only (10%)
10%
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)
10%

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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