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Sparks The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman album cover
3.18 | 21 ratings | 1 reviews | 14% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 1956 Cannes Festival (1:56)
2. "I Am Ingmar Bergman" (3:09)
3. Limo Driver (Welcome To Hollywood) (3:08)
4. "Here He Is Now" (1:19)
5. "Mr. Bergman, How Are You?" (4:28)
6. "He'll Come 'Round" (1:44)
7. En Route To The Beverly Hills Hotel (1:56)
8. Hollywood Welcome Committee (2:36)
9. "I've Got To Contact Sweden" (2:41)
10. The Studio Commissary (3:08)
11. "I Must Not Be Hasty" (1:47)
12. "Quiet On The Set" (1:06)
13. "Why Do You Take That Tone With Me?" (2:52)
14. Pleasant Hotel Staff (0:55)
15. Hollywood Tour Bus (1:34)
16. Autograph Hounds (2:20)
17. Bergman Ponders Escape (2:25)
18. "We've Got To Turn Him 'Round" (2:37)
19. Escape (Part 1) (4:14)
20. Escape (Part 2) (5:59)
21. "Oh My God" (2:59)
22. Garbo Sings (2:48)
23. Almost A Hollywood Ending (2:13)
24. "He's Home" (3:38)

Total time 63:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Russell Mael / vocals
- Ron Mael / keyboards, orchestrations

- Dean Menta / guitar
- Jim Wilson / guitar
- Marcus Blake / bass
- Tammy Glover / drums
- Steven Nistor / drums

And voice-actor cast:
- Russell Mael / Studio chief; policeman 1 and 2
- Ron Mael / Limo driver; Hollywood tour guide
- Marcus Blake / Autograph hound; Woody
- Tammy Glover / Hollywood Welcoming Committee; Gerry
- Saskia Husberg / Interpreter
- Elin Klinga / Greta Garbo
- Marie-Chantal Long / Cannes Festival announcer
- Jonas Malmsj÷ / Ingmar Bergman
- Steve McDonald / Hotel concierge
- Steven Nistor / Hotel doorman
- Katie Puckrik / Hotel operator
- Rebecca Sj÷wall / Hollywood starlet
- Jim Wilson / First A.D.; autograph hound

Releases information

Radio Musical recorded on the soundstages of Hollywood American Studios, Hollywood, California and at the Radio Drama Studio, Stockholm

Artwork: Rachel Gutek with Mattias Ahlm (photo)

2xLP Lil' Beethoven Records ‎- LBRV4 82009, UK) English version

CD SR Records ‎- SRCD 2055 (2009, Sweden) Original Swedish radio version
4LP + CD Lil' Beethoven Records ‎- LBRV4X (2009, UK) English & Swedish versions on LPs, English only on CD

Thanks to ? for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SPARKS The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman ratings distribution

(21 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)

SPARKS The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars Sometimes there's something to be said for staying in your lane. Through assorted means, the brothers received a commission to write a Sweden-related radio musical for Swedish national radio, and the result was this fictional tale involving the famous movie director Ingmar Bergman (played by Jonas Malmsj÷). The story, more or less, is as follows: soon after winning an award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, Ingmar feels the need to go watch an American action movie, despite the fact that he hates escapist art. He comes out of the movie theater and is surprised to find himself in Hollywood, with a limo waiting for him. He's taken to a meeting with various Hollywood studio executives, who try to persuade him to stay and make films there, despite the fact he hates everything about Hollywood and all that it stands for. Initially, he feels torn; he doesn't want to sell out, but the ability to have real financing for his movies seems like too good of a deal to pass on. After starting to settle into the realities of Hollywood life, including actresses who don't respect him and people constantly asking for his autograph, he decides he needs to get away, even though Sweden may or may not exist in this reality. As he's making his way on foot from his hotel, he realizes that he's being chased by police and helicopters, bringing him into the horrible irony of being an actor in a bad, big-budget Hollywood action film. He comes to the seashore, prays for help, meets the angel of Greta Garbo, goes to a movie with her, leaves the movie and finds himself back in Sweden. Fin.

I suppose it should be considered a success that this project isn't a complete disaster. There are a handful of really memorable and interesting bits, even if a lot of the album consists of "transitional" material. "Why Do You Take That Tone With Me?" features a great vocal from opera singer Rebecca Sj÷wall, depicting an angry Hollywood starlet who doesn't like the condescension that Bergman oozes with every word and action on the set, and there's a good deal of dramatic heft in it. "Limo Driver (Welcome to Hollywood)" offers a chance to hear Ron sing for the first time (spoiler alert: it's a good thing Russell usually sings), but it makes for a fun ditty, and the following "Mr. Bergman, How Are You?" does an entertaining job of depicting the attempts of the Hollywood executives to try and woo Bergman over. "The Studio Commissary" is a fun chance to namecheck a bunch of famous directors getting lunch over a vaudeville tune, "Autograph Hounds" has great interplay between the disorienting vocals and some intense synths, "Oh My God" (where Bergman asks for deliverance) is a decent emotional climax, and "Garbo Sings" (where Greta Garbo brings deliverance) is a great reprise of themes from earlier. Oh, and I guess that "He's Home" makes for a fitting, joyful ending.

For all of the good that this album provides, though, there are some fundamental flaws that are hard to escape. One of these is that, while we're clearly supposed to empathize with Bergman as he seeks refuge from the awfulness that is Hollywood, it's hard to tell exactly how he's been wronged here (well, aside from the weird teleportation kidnapping that kicks off the whole thing). Bergman really comes across as a prick, especially when he's on set (this sequence may or may not be in his mind, but then again the whole album may or may not be in his mind), and quite honestly I find myself siding with the Hollywood Studio Chief when he sings, "We've offered him the moon/Rejected us like goons/And all the while unfazed, his eyes were dull and glazed/But all that's in the past./He really has some gall/To turn us down at all/He really has some gall to turn us down at all/Is anyone that great?" near the end. If Ron and Russell meant for the listener to sympathize completely with Bergman, they didn't really succeed.

A second major problem comes from the baffling decision to make the English-language version available only as a digital download, with all 64 minutes contained within a single track. The provided rationale for this was essentially that they wanted people to have to listen to this as a whole, to treat it as a serious piece of art rather than a collection of individual tracks, but I find this explanation unsatisfying simply because musicals generally are broken up into individual tracks. This is a rare instance of the group taking itself much too seriously, and it's a little off-putting.

Despite these issues, though, I'd have to say that this is a decent album on the whole, and one that any serious Sparks fan should listen to two or three times. Yes, when Bergman solemnly intones near the end, "Thank you for listening to my story. You may be relieved to know the story is soon coming to an end" I find myself thinking "Damn straight," but it's a still very competent and well-crafted piece of work on the whole. I can't imagine wanting to listen to it more than two or three more times in my life, but I'm glad I listened to it as many times as I did.

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