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Sparks biography
Formed in 1972 in Los Angeles, USA - Still active as of 2017

L.A brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell (vocals) Mael formed their first band Halfnelson in 1970 along with the other brothers, Earle Mankey (guitar) and Jim Mankey (bass). Harley Feinstein completed the quintet on drums. It was at this time Todd Rundgren honed in on them and convinced them to change their name to the SPARKS and in 1971, under a new label, their self titled debut was released.

Their brand of sound quickley developed a cult following especially in the UK, which prompted the Mael brothers crossing the Atlantic and setting up base there. The Mankey brothers went on to do other things, not least one of them joining Concrete Blonde. So with new band members to compliment the Mael brothers the SPARKS released their warmly received "Kimono My House" and later that same year another studio release called "Propoganda". The Mael brothers never ones to rest on their laurels returned to the USA after the not so successful 1975 release, "Indiscreet". Their glamorous art rock, crossover, new wave cocktail mix of sound even ventured into disco territory in the late 70's/early 80's. They remained prolific up to 1988's "Interior Design" before disappearing off the radar for a while until 1994 when more studio releases followed.

Their most recent release is 2009's "The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman", an eccentric and bizaar album, not dissimilar to a symphonic rock opera. The SPARKS always remained uncompromising and original to their sound, the proof of which is that their cult following still remains to this day. Visit their website also for a great insight to their history.

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SPARKS discography

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SPARKS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.21 | 48 ratings
Halfnelson [Aka: Sparks]
3.27 | 44 ratings
A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing
4.09 | 108 ratings
Kimono My House
4.11 | 83 ratings
3.24 | 59 ratings
3.50 | 39 ratings
Big Beat
3.23 | 32 ratings
Introducing Sparks
3.55 | 46 ratings
No.1 In Heaven
2.56 | 25 ratings
Terminal Jive
3.29 | 28 ratings
Whomp That Sucker
3.04 | 27 ratings
Angst In My Pants
2.79 | 24 ratings
In Outer Space
1.54 | 20 ratings
Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat
2.08 | 18 ratings
Music That You Can Dance To
1.40 | 16 ratings
Interior Design [Aka: Just Got Back From Heaven]
3.30 | 30 ratings
Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins
2.83 | 16 ratings
4.20 | 58 ratings
Lil' Beethoven
4.00 | 41 ratings
Hello Young Lovers
3.57 | 30 ratings
Exotic Creatures Of The Deep
3.18 | 21 ratings
The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman
3.31 | 13 ratings
Franz Ferdinand & Sparks: FFS
3.83 | 57 ratings
3.83 | 37 ratings
A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
4.29 | 7 ratings
The Girl Is Crying in Her Latte

SPARKS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.96 | 5 ratings
Two Hands, One Mouth: Live in Europe

SPARKS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SPARKS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.03 | 12 ratings
2.50 | 2 ratings
The Best of Sparks

SPARKS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.32 | 6 ratings
This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us
3.71 | 5 ratings
Dick Around

SPARKS Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 No.1 In Heaven by SPARKS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.55 | 46 ratings

No.1 In Heaven
Sparks Crossover Prog

Review by trout.phosphor

4 stars Like the best places by the resort swimming pool, the Germans got there first: the use of electronica to change the nature of popular music was all part of the Wirtschaftswunder. Yet when electronica was turned toward more commercial ends, the Pop failed to pop. In their efforts to distance themselves from the all-pervading American influence on popular culture, market-leaders Kraftwerk showcased singing that was deliberately unemotive and lyrics that were deliberately artless. That seemed to be the way forward.

Then along comes Giorgio Moroder with even more wires than Ralf and Florian, plus the silky-voiced Donna Summer from the other side of the Atlantic. As Pop, their collaboration was closer to what yer average disco freak required, but as anything more than that, it fell short; well manufactured, but lyrically vacuous. One piece was still missing...

That piece was Ron Mael (who just happened to have a brother called Russell, who just happened to sing better than almost anyone).

So it's 1979 and all the elements are in place: the iconic producer (Signor Moroda), the generational voice (Russell Mael) and Ron Mael, one of the best lyricists who ever drew breath. Don't believe me? Try "All of the angels are sheep in the fold of their Master" from the title track. Whoever put such imagery in a pop song? (And when delivered by Russ Mael's peerless falsetto, who else could have made it send a shiver down the spine?) Or later in the same song: "Maybe you're closer to here than you imagine, maybe you're closer to here than you care to be", 'here' being heaven, that is, being dead. What is this? A pop song penned by Martin Heidegger? And later still "lyrically weak, but the music's the thing". I shall leave you to disentangle the meta-narrative of that for yourself. Or try any lyric on 'Beat the Clock'. How smart can you be, and how witty? (That could apply to any lyric on the entire album.)

Lest you think this is an album driven mainly by its lyrical content, Moroda's bubbling, sumptuous analogue textures, Keith Forsey's galloping drums, and Russell's Mael's soaring and uncanny vocalisation carry just as much heft. One can just imagine Messrs Moroda, Mael and Mael sat in the studio listening to the final mix and thinking "Got it". Compare any track from this album (its lyrics, lead vocal, sheer danceability) to any comparable track now, and Sparks win hands down (and don't forget the classic albums they had already made in other genres by this time, and with more to come).

The response to 'No.1 in Heaven' nowadays might well be "heard it all before" but back in 1979, no-one had. Smart, danceable electronica that was neither post-funk nor post-Krautrock did not exist. Let's be honest, smart, danceable electronica barely exists at all, period. The influence of this album has been lasting and profound, and it is one more testament to a duo who resurrected themselves (usually to great acclaim) at least half a dozen times. This is their most surprising resurrection, and the most surprising thing of all is that it really, really works.

 Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins by SPARKS album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.30 | 30 ratings

Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins
Sparks Crossover Prog

Review by PlanetRodentia2


Sparks is a pop-rock band with progressive tendencies, notably employing unorthodox lyrics, unusual song structures, and theatrical/operatic elements. They have a tendency to reinvent themselves periodically. This album, Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins, is from their "dance" phase, and the title highlights their penchant for wordplay.

The often happy music is synth-heavy, catchy, and buoyant. It accompanies lyrics that often are not so happy and deal with themes of jealousy, rejection, and confusion.

Tracks 1 and 11, "Gratuitous Sax" and "Senseless Violins," are throwaway songs that frame the album proper. Although they have clever bits, they are too short to warrant much notice from me. (2/5 each)

The three singles, "When Do I Get to Sing 'My Way'," "When I Kiss You (I Hear Charlie Parker Playing)," and "Now That I Own the BBC" are very good, the first and third boasting nice vocals by Russell Mael. "Now That I Own the BBC" is a silly song that boasts an undercurrent of existential dread answered by "Make of it what you will". Sadly, the background vocals don't "pop" like they do in their music video. "The Ghost of Liberace" was a pleasant surprise with a serious, thoughtful lyric and winter holiday music - a plea for the disregarded. (5, 4, 5, 5, respectively)

Several songs stand out for various reasons but don't reach the same level of excellence, in my opinion: "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil," "Let's Go Surfing," and "Tsui Hark". "Tsui Hark" is an experimental piece, essentially an instrumental with spoken word parts accompanying it.

"Frankly Scarlett, I Don't Give a Damn" and "I Thought I Told You to Wait in the Car" both deal with feelings of rejection, but I don't care for them much. The latter song actually sounds quite menacing. (3/5)

Overall, the album rates about a 3.7/5. I give an extra 1/2 star for "Now That I Own the BBC," because this song buoyed me up considerably during the pandemic. Lines like "Now that I own the BBC, what am I supposed to do with this thing?" and "Make of it what you will" prompted me to do some serious thinking about how to handle my life during this crazy time. For that, I'm thankful.

I'm not a big fan of Sparks' "dance phase," but this album had enough good songs on it to warrant the purchase - notably "Now That I Own the BBC"! I opted for the BMG 3-CD release, which includes CD1 of the original album, CD2 of B-sides and remixes, and CD3 of previously unreleased demos and the Christi Haydon EP, which boasts some songs written for her by the Mael brothers. Some of the remixes are good, and I found some gold on CD3.

Three stars if you are looking for lots of progressiveness. The band progresses through time, but not all songs on an album are progressive. If you want substantial progressiveness, you'll need to look elsewhere, say Lil' Beethoven or more recent fare.

Four stars if you're me.

Five stars if you are a Sparks fan and want to know if you should buy the 3CD set. The 3CD set is essential - you get to hear Ron "sing" two songs on CD2! CD3 is a trove of lost treasures.

 A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip by SPARKS album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.83 | 37 ratings

A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
Sparks Crossover Prog

Review by Pietro Otello Romano

5 stars Like a good wine Sparks seem to improve with aging.

Left behind the synthpop sound, the Mael bros have given us a number of gems from the turn of the new millennium. They don't burn quite as obviously bright, and "A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip" is stand out as one of the brightest of their entire production. A solid album, well balanced, elegant and catchy enough since the first listening.

Highlight of the album:

***** Star: the well-paced and enthralling open "All That". The almost punkish "I'am toast". The magnificent "Pacific Standard Time" that, driven by an infectious piano tune, surprisingly romantic, (am I wrong or it's the first romantic songs by Sparks ever?), is my personal favorite of the album. The atmospheric. almost dramatic, piano based "One for the Ages". The Symphonic and ironical "Please Don't Fuck Up My World"

**** Star: "Stravinsky's Only Hit" - "Left Out in the Cold" - "The Existential Threat" - "Nothing Travels Faster Than the Speed of Light"

Overall a 4.5 Stars rounded to 5 for the talent of the band to keep fresh and high the level of their works after almost half century on the music biz!

 This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us by SPARKS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1974
3.32 | 6 ratings

This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us
Sparks Crossover Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars What a discovery today, The Sparks on Prog Archives, I stumbled upon it while checking new entries on this website, but I am far from shocked, and I don't feel the need to be cynical. Because I consider The Sparks as an unique band with progressive tendencies (Art-rock seems to fit the most), and I know a lot of friends who are still very much into The Sparks, and witnessed one of their recents gigs.

This Town Ain't Big Enough is an exciting song that delivers the trademark Russell Meal powerful high-pitched vocals. But I also love the dynamics, the fiery rock guitar and the delicate keyboard work. After watching it on the legendary Dutch Toppop I rushed to the nearest record store and bought it, and I still like to wacth it on YouTube. It's a real gem, in an era that Art-rock blossemed, from Queen with Killer Queen to 10CC with Silly Love.

 No.1 In Heaven by SPARKS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.55 | 46 ratings

No.1 In Heaven
Sparks Crossover Prog

Review by patrickq
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If Nº 1 in Heaven has a familiar ring to it, you can probably blame the Father of Disco, Georgio Moroder, who produced the album. Apparently, Moroder and his team went directly from working on this album to producing yet another Donna Summer album, in this case the multi-platinum Bad Girls. (Nº 1 in Heaven was released in March 1979 and Bad Girls In April). The clearest sign of Moroder's hand is the beat; his teamwork with drummer Keith Forsey is one of the most consistent aspects of Nº 1 in Heaven, as it had been for Summer's prior four albums. But Summer and Sparks were heading in opposite directions.

To oversimplify things a bit, in 1979, Donna Summer shifted from European disco toward pop/rock, while the LA band Sparks transitioned (rather abruptly) from pop/rock to European disco. Summer's move made more sense commercially, as disco was on its way out in the US; she had five top-five US pop songs in 1979, including three number-one singles, and she managed to have eight more top-forty hits* across the 1980s?pretty fortunate for a disco artist. But Moroder's brand of "Italo Disco" remained popular in Europe; Nº 1 in Heaven spawned a couple of U.K. hits. A few years later, Sparks finally placed two singles on the Billboard Hot 100, hitting #60 in 1982 and #49 in 1983.

This group is sometimes considered progressive, Nº 1 in Heaven is synthesizer-based disco; there's no way it would be mistaken for rock music, never mind progressive rock. But it could easily be mistaken for an album recorded in 1982, not 1978, and that four-year span was a lifetime in pop music; although the term is probably way overused, this album was genuinely "ahead of its time."

On top of that, it's a pretty good album. As was also typical of Donna Summer albums, the songs are extended, intended for club play. "Beat the Clock" in particular seems to have been written specifically as a dance songs, but most of Nº 1 in Heaven is comprised of pop songs arranged in 1980s Italo-Disco style. Interestingly, the beat of "My Other Voice" is nearly the same as Summer's "Hot Stuff," her first rock-oriented single - - but that's as far as the comparison goes. In terms of composition, the lyrics are very good, and music is fine, although there are only a handful of strong melodies across the album.

The best songs here are "La Dolce Vita" and "the Number One Song in Heaven," the two substantial hits from the album. Of the remaining four songs, only "My Other Voice" feels like filler material. However, prior to Nº 1 in Heaven, Sparks had never released an album with fewer than nine songs. If, rather than stretching the songs here, they had continued that trend, there might've been much more filler.

Overall, Nº 1 in Heaven is a good proto-new-wave dance album. If you're into that kind of stuff, and especially if you also appreciate incisive lyrics, give this one a spin.


*Her cover of Jon & Vangelis's "State of Independence" just missed, hitting #41 in 1982.

 Halfnelson [Aka: Sparks] by SPARKS album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.21 | 48 ratings

Halfnelson [Aka: Sparks]
Sparks Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

5 stars The first new wave album? Maybe not quite but a prototype of what was to come.

The creative and spastic team of brothers Ron and Russell Mael, better known as SPARKS has become notorious for being one of the quirkiest progressive art pop zolo glam rock artists in the last half century and are still going strong to this day. This Los Angeles duo decided to create their first band all the way back in 1968 when they teamed up under the name HALFNELSON. Having rejected the hippie folk and rock that was en vogue in the late 60s California scene, Ron on keyboards and Russell as vocalist would turn many a head when they performed completely off-kilter art pop that exhibited sophisticated Baroque pop, intelligently designed lyrics and quirky left field constructs that were made all the more strange by the duo's unique theatrical stage presence that found Russell displaying hyperactive performances with a distinctly idiosyncratic falsetto while Ron playing keys in a detached and stoic manner.

While distancing themselves from their LA contemporaries, the duo looked eastward towards the British scene where they found more inspiration from disparate acts such as The Who, The Kinks, The Move and Pink Floyd. It didn't take long after their formation in 1968 that they caught the attention of Todd Rundgren who immediately signed them to his Bearsville label. While the duo would be the focal point of attention, the band was rounded off with Earle Manley on guitar and his brother James on bass and released the eponymously titled debut HALFNELSON in 1971 to little fanfare. After a little changing things up which included the band name becoming SPARKS and a new album cover, the HALFNELSON debut become the first self-titled SPARKS album when re-released in 1972 which proved to be the magic bullet. The same album retitled as SPARKS ushered in the band's first minor hit in the form of "Wonder Girl."

While still HALFNELSON, Ron and Russell were well ahead of their time as they crafted a distinct sound that would blend glam rock, progressive art pop and a hyper spastic feel that would eventually become known as zolo. This amalgamation of ideas would become the staple for bands like Roxy Music, Split Enz, XTC, Devo and countless others as the 70s ceded into the 80s. The HALFNELSON / SPARKS debut is a powerhouse of ideas that range from the prognosticating "Fa La Fa Lee" which sounds a lot like the synthpop that would emerge at the end of the decade and a major ingredient of the new wave that swept the late 70s and early 80s, to the bizarre early indie pop weirdness of "Biology 2" which sounds a lot like the brain melting helium voiced weirdness that Ween would capture and bring to the limelight in the 90s. Tracks like "Roger" are quirky little numbers that mix a heavy classical piano influence with bubblegum pop hooks but corrupt them into a crazed mix of time signature liberties that jitter around the main beat.

"High C" which sounds like a David Bowie on acid type of track displays a basic glam rock groove that intertwines country slide guitar, new wave type of synthpop hooks and the ultimate vocal weirdness that displays Russell's eccentric abilities that make Freddie Mercury sound like an amateur as he whizzes up and down the scale. "Simple Ballet" shows an explorative show tune sort of proclivity while "Slowboat" proves that the duo aren't just about weirdness but that they can also write beautiful ballads that don't resort to extremes yet even here they think out of the box with a Baroque piano solo and ends with an energetic guitar performance. "Saccharin And The War" is the most rockin' and also most progressive track on the album as it ramps up the guitar heft and adds some time sig deviations as Russell wails away sounding like he's a cross between the singers of Gnidrolog and Pavlov's Dog. "(No More) Mr. Nice Guys" sounds somewhat like the soundtrack to the Rocky Horror Picture Show" which wouldn't come out until 1975.

The first SPARKS album which began as a HALFNELSON album is a true freak of nature that must've come as a complete shock to anyone who would've experienced it at the time. It was so different than virtually anything else that existed and an obvious influence for much of the glam rock and indie pop of the future. While clearly more pop than rock, SPARKS were about as creatively experimental as you could get back in the early 70s within that world. This is a brilliant album as it shows the two brothers pretty much doing things exactly as they wanted and the album is all the better for it. While SPARKS wouldn't hit it big until their third album "Kimono In The House" which would become an international hit after they relocated to England, their first two albums are excellent slices of quirky, slightly progressive pop as well with the eponymous debut being the better of the two. While these early albums are precursors of the new wave movement that emerged towards the end of the decade in which SPARKS would be a key player in as well, on the first album it's obvious that they were the progenitors of the quirky zolo art pop turned new wave branch of the post-punk era as well. Not bad guys.

 Hippopotamus by SPARKS album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.83 | 57 ratings

Sparks Crossover Prog

Review by omphaloskepsis

5 stars 90/100 Wow! Hippopotamus is my favorite Sparks album ever! Blindsided by Sparks' contagious catchy cabaret, Hippopotamus sideswiped me. Zee Mael brothers have outdone themselves. Decades haven't dulled the knife sharp sheen off the Mael's, instead Father Time honed, polished and focused the Mael Brother's song craft skills.

Top shelf, eclectic, humorous lyrics abound, Russell Mael waxes poetic on advantages of the ever popular go-to "Missionary Position" and his Spartan "Scandinavian" furniture collection. The sarcastic "Unaware" and "I Wish You Were Fun" poke fun at the fairer sex. You got to grin at Russell warbling, " So Tell Me Mrs. Lincoln Aside From That, How Was The Play?" Literary allusions and history lessons like Macbeth and Edith Piaf literally litter the hysterical lyrical landscape of Hippopotamus.

" Russell Mael, myself and my husband sing along and share knowing smiles listening to Sparks' wit, coupled with resplendent, gorgeous piano riffing of Ron Mael. Unlike other older rock vocalists, Russell's vocals are clean and operatic as ever. His voice is extremely unusual yet catchy. Somehow Sparks break new ground while staying seductively melodic. The Maels share a P.O. box on Memory Lane. Every song is memorable.

Ironically, I found title track Hippopotamus the weakest song, still you got to salute Ron and Russell for rhyming abacus, Hieronymus Bosch , anonymous, and Titus Andronicus with Hippopotamus instead of falling into the cliché "Rhinoceros rhyme trap"!

Hippopotamus, though an acquired taste, puts the POP back in Hippopotamus and equals or supasses Sparks 70's classics "Kimono my House" and "Propaganda". For fans of superior song craft, marvelous piano runs, operatic Germanic vocals, Beardfish and Zappa lyrical satire!

 No.1 In Heaven by SPARKS album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.55 | 46 ratings

No.1 In Heaven
Sparks Crossover Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars After their glam rock-influenced style as pioneered on Kimono My House an its followups stopped paying the bills, Sparks shifted gear to synthpop territory. The transition is actually quite successful: they brought in Giorgio Moroder to help out at the production desk, which was a good start, and since their music had always focused a lot on Ron Mael's keyboards a shift to more modern electronic sounds seemed entirely natural. Russell's vocal style also takes well to the synthpop format, and their ornate writing style adds a somewhat progressive spin to the compositions. Yes, it's cheesy, but "Tryouts For the Human Race" and the like are hardly simplistic disco numbers.
 This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us by SPARKS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1974
3.32 | 6 ratings

This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us
Sparks Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us' is easily the best known song by this quirky art-pop group led by the eccentric Mael brothers from Los Angeles. I don't know if it can be described as prog, at least in the usual sense, but it makes most music of their British contemporaries QUEEN sound lame in comparison, and a lot of 10CC as well. In some way they sounded like being many years ahead of their time. This fast, frenzy, highly strung song with theatrically high vocals is like a turkish pepper: it leaves no one cold but doesn't necessarily make you want more. An interesting detail about the writing of this song is that originally it was thought to include (for the chorus) various clichés familiar from B movies, but "this town ain't big enough for both of us" won the honour alone.

'Barbecutie' on the single's B side is an average Sparks song, reminding a little of the early ROXY MUSIC (e.g. 'Virginia Plain') but is more straight forward [glam] rock. Nothing I would want to hear many times. I must say Sparks have never been among my listenings. When I was a child the album covers of Kimono My House and especially Propaganda (with the tied couple seated on a boat) made a strong impression on me, and 'This Town...' still sounds powerful and unique whenever I happen to hear it. Once I borrowed a compilation of this band but I didn't much like the music in general. So if there's a band that I want to remember by just one particular song, it's this one.

 Two Hands, One Mouth: Live in Europe by SPARKS album cover Live, 2013
2.96 | 5 ratings

Two Hands, One Mouth: Live in Europe
Sparks Crossover Prog

Review by tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Somehow, despite having regularly recorded albums for over 40 years, Sparks didn't release any live albums before 2013. If the brothers had felt really ballsy, their first live release would have been a 21-disc boxset of the Sparks Spectacular from 2008, which would also have freed them from ever considering another live album thereafter. If they'd wanted to go a more conventional route, they could have released a comprehensive 2-CD live album, recorded with a full band, which could have provided 2 hours or so of career- spanning live entertainment. Well, the brothers decided to go a route that's unusual but also a little underwhelming. This is a 2-CD live album, but the second disc is only about 20 minutes long (containing the encore from the show), and the lineup is just Ron playing keyboards and Russell singing, with no support (hence the name of the album).

This set is worth hearing and is basically enjoyable, but it's underwhelming on the whole. I would say there are two significant highlights that stand out from the rest. The first is a rendition of "Singing in the Shower," a track that originated in a post-Interior Design collaboration with Les Rita Mitsouko and had an absolutely horrendous arrangement but sounds quite nice when given a sparser music hall treatment. The second is the version of "The Number Song in Heaven" that they perform in the encore, focusing on the first half of the song and giving Russell's incredibly well-preserved 64-year-old falsetto a chance to shine. Plus, the moment when Ron switches from the angelic choir keyboard parts into the more rhythmic sequenced sounds is a great and memorable one.

Aside from these performances, though, the lack of a full band ends up forcing pretty much all of the set into a fairly limited sonic space, and most of the renditions on here end up as amusing trifles. The setlist is heavy on albums that could provide material for such an approach, of course; Propaganda contributes 4 tracks (the title track, "At Home, At Work, At Play," "Something for the Girl With Everything," "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth"), Indiscreet ("Hospitality on Parade," "Under the Table With Her"), No. 1 in Heaven ("The Number One Song in Heaven", "Beat the Clock") and Hello Young Lovers ("Metaphor," a sadly shortened "Dick Around") 2 a piece , Lil' Beethoven 3 ("My Baby's Taking Me Home," "The Rhythm Thief," "Suburban Homeboy"), and there are scattered tracks from here and there. Kimono only has the obligatory "This Town" nod (and boy it sounds odd without guitar), the 80s are only acknowledged with "Singing in the Shower" and "Sherlock Holmes," Exotic Creatures only has "Good Morning" to represent it, and of course there's "When Do I Get to Sing My Way?" to close off the main set. There's also a really dumb rarity called "The Wedding of Jacqueline Kennedy to Russell Mael" (in which Russell pretends to get married to Jacqueline Kennedy and Ron plays the Wedding March), a short medley of material from The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman, and a totally forgettable new song at the end in the title track. Oh, and there's a fun keyboard medley at the beginning called "Sparks Overture," where some songs that made the album are joined by others that were probably performed but not recorded ("I Married Myself" and "Looks, Looks, Looks" are recognizable in addition to "Good Morning," "When Do I Get to Sing My Way," "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us," "Dick Around," "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth," "Something for the Girl With Everything" and "Suburban Homeboy"). Many of these tracks sound just fine, but there's little here that I'd go out of my way to hear in place of the corresponding original, and that's something I need to rate a live album highly.

Honestly, if this ends up as the only live album they ever put out, I'll find myself wishing that they'd never bothered; it would have been better to have the gaping "what-if" than to answer it with a relative throwaway. Anybody who fancies themselves as a hardcore fan should seek this out, and it's worth a few listens, but a casual fan could do well to stay away.

Thanks to chris s for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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