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madgo2 View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Sparks would be a good addition
    Posted: June 01 2007 at 23:23

Considering some of the bands that are covered here by Prog Archives I would think that the California band originating in the seventies and still around today, Sparks the creation of the Mael Brothers(Ron and Russell) would fall under Art Rock.  I am sure that albums like Kimona My House, Propaganda, Indiscreet, No 1 in Heaven and even there two most recent Li'l Beethoven, and Hello Young Lovers all qualify as progressive.  These guys absolutely stretch the boundaries of rock and have been doing it for four decades now.  Does anyone have an intelligent opion on them as an addition?

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2007 at 04:13
They made some fine music, but I don't think they ever even dabbled in prog. Their music was very much aimed at the singles charts, later moving into dance/trance territory.
 
Can you highlight anyhting specific by them which you think demonstrates their prog credentials.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2007 at 04:17
The first three albums,'A Woofer in Tweeters Clothing','Half Nelson/Sparks' and 'Kimono My House' are prog related I suppose but after that they became a clever pop band in a 10cc kind of way...Then again 10cc are in PAs

Edited by Man Erg - June 02 2007 at 04:20

Do 'The Stanley' otherwise I'll thrash you with some rhubarb.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2007 at 20:39

In the most fundamental sense they are not a prog band but neither are quite a few on this site.  They would be characterized under "prog related" or "art rock".  For instance they are credited with influencing Queen's early sound and besides their first three albums being prog related the two that followed also would be considered just as strongly.  Really there last two albums both released in the last few years are very progressive,  In fact quite a bit more so than anything they had done in between. 

When you mention highlightng anything specific that demonstrates prog credentials I would say that if you can check out the song "At Home, At Work, At Play" off of Propaganda as that song is  reflective of the whole album.  From "Kimona MY house" check out "This Town A'int Big Enough for the Both of Us". or "Hasta Manana Monsieur"

Heres a review of "Kimona My House" off another site:
 

Arguably one of Sparks' best albums, 1974's Kimono My House finds the brothers Mael (Ron wrote most the songs and played keyboards, while Russell was the singing frontman) ingeniously playing their guitar- and keyboard-heavy pop mix on 12 consistently fine tracks. Adding a touch of bubblegum, and even some of Zappa's own song-centric experimentalism to the menu, the Maels spruce up a sleazy Sunset Strip with a bevy of Broadway-worthy performances here: as the band expertly revs up the glam rock-meets-Andrew Lloyd Webber backdrops, Russell sends things into space with his operatic vocals and ever-clever lyrics. And besides two of their breakthrough hits (the English chart-toppers "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" and "Amateur Hour"), the album features one of their often-overlooked stunners, "Here in Heaven." Essential.

 
Here is a review of thier most recent release(2006)which has been critically acclaimed:
 
 
Review by Ned Raggett

Why it is that after years or even decades some artists continue to thrill and entertain while others just burn out badly is one of those great mysteries, but in the example of Ron and Russell Mael, aka Sparks, they're firmly in the former category. Hello Young Lovers is their 20th studio album in 35 years, not to mention one of their best. Following on from their enjoyable all-classical instrumentation experiment, Lil' Beethoven, Sparks take their cue here from the album's one song that added full rock band instrumentation to all the strings, "Ugly Guys with Beautiful Girls." The resulting fusion on Hello Young Lovers — with the brothers and drummer Tammy Glover now accompanied full-time by former touring guitarist Dean Menta, along with Redd Kross' Steve McDonald guesting on bass and Jim Wilson on guitar — audibly harks back to the U.K. glam era of the band but crucially does not simply replicate it. Instead, it's as close to a full mélange of all the band's various sounds thus far over the years, as Lil' Beethoven's orchestral swoops are shot through with feedback and subtler hints of the various dance incarnations of the duo. Opening track "Dick Around," with its rapidly ascending and descending melodies, absolutely precise performance (Russell's voice continues to be one of the best ever in the field while Ron's ear for immediate but busy-as-heck hooks similarly hasn't gone stale), and back-and-forth arrangements between strings and guitar is a tour de force on its own, not to mention showing that the trademark Mael misanthropic wit remains fully intact. From there, Hello Young Lovers is off to the races, with only a tiny misstep or two along the way ("Here Kitty" is cute but slight, "Metaphor" takes a while to connect fully). First single "Perfume" is a delight, a finger-snapping swing of a song that's still very 21st century, with a classic Russell spoken word break to boot. Other highlights include the outrageous "(Baby Baby) Can I Invade Your Country?," a reworking of the American national anthem that turns into the slyest post-9/11 song yet, and the stellar conclusion "When I Sit Down to the Play the Organ in the Notre Dame Cathedral." "Waterproof" might be the best song in the end, Russell singing like butter couldn't melt in his mouth about being a merrily heartless b*****d untroubled by his former love's "Meryl Streep mimicry" while the sound moves from chamber music to a hint of '30s jazz to a full rock-out apocalypse. If, as is often alleged, Queen ripped off Sparks to fully kick-start their own career, Hello Young Lovers is Sparks having the last and best laugh, not just on their former rivals but on all those bands now and then whose members may have listened in but never showed even a tenth of the Maels' genius and inspiration.

I
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2007 at 21:19
Originally posted by Easy Livin Easy Livin wrote:

. Their music was very much aimed at the singles charts,
 
 
Do you have proof of this? Its just opinion surely?
 
I saw them as an album band with several songs good enough for single release.
 
Things were very different in the seventies, even Focus hda a top ten single.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2007 at 21:27
First two (Todd Rundgren produced) albums Sparks and A Woofer In A Tweeter's Clothing are without doubt Art Rock and by the third, Kimono My House, I would say they were on a par with Roxy Music in pushing Pop music into unknown territory. Admittedly Propaganda and Indiscreet were more power-pop and less experimental bur easily equal to anything 10 c.c. were doing.
 
The Giorgio Moroder years are best left forgotten. Unhappy
 
Their last two albums (Lil' Beethoven and Hello Young Lovers) are a return to (progressive) Art Rock, but in an updated form, incorporating some of the song structures from dance/trance but without the 4 to the floor dance thump. Imagine Neurosis without the sludge.
 
 


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2007 at 01:55
I remember this group, very popular in the 70's - they had chart hits with"this town ain't big enough for the both of us" and "amateur hour", they were compared to Queen  and T Rex at the time but they were strictly glam pop not Prog,  will ask the Art  rock team what they think..Smile
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2007 at 23:53
I believe they deserve to be included under Art Rock.  Certainly they should be here if bands such as "The Church" who I really like but are not Prog.  How Deep Purple ever got here is beyond me as well.  There are many that do not fit the prog definition...download the song "Dick Around" or if need be I wll send the mp3 of it.  It is off there new album and is definitely prog.  Sparks were doing Queen style operatics before Queen was around and most definitely are a unique listening experience.  I am glad you guys are considering.  If you need info on them let me know as I have been following them since the 70's. 

Edited by madgo2 - June 07 2007 at 23:53
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2007 at 03:17
Originally posted by Snow Dog Snow Dog wrote:

Originally posted by Easy Livin Easy Livin wrote:

. Their music was very much aimed at the singles charts,
 
 
Do you have proof of this? Its just opinion surely?
 
I saw them as an album band with several songs good enough for single release.
 
Things were very different in the seventies, even Focus hda a top ten single.
 
Proof? That's a strange question, of course it's all about opinions.
 
Six top 30 singles in 18 months, and a further three when they returned in 1979 surely says something though.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2007 at 05:38
Originally posted by Easy Livin Easy Livin wrote:

Originally posted by Snow Dog Snow Dog wrote:

Originally posted by Easy Livin Easy Livin wrote:

. Their music was very much aimed at the singles charts,
 
 
Do you have proof of this? Its just opinion surely?
 
I saw them as an album band with several songs good enough for single release.
 
Things were very different in the seventies, even Focus hda a top ten single.
 
Proof? That's a strange question, of course it's all about opinions.
 
Six top 30 singles in 18 months, and a further three when they returned in 1979 surely says something though.
 
Sorry, its just your comment seemed somehow "definitive" to me. My mistake.Wink
 
But the fact that they had chart sucess proves nothing in my opinion. Genesis had a lot of that too. Also 10cc, ELO.....I could go on.Big%20smile


Edited by Snow Dog - June 08 2007 at 05:40
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2007 at 10:25

You asked me to highlight anything specific which I did.  Have you listened to any of these songs yet.  Have you listened to "Dick Around" off there latest album.  That would be an excellent example of the music they have been playing for the last seven years. 

 
As for a singles band I found that post to be very interesting.  Do you happen to know which songs of theirs were in the top 30 and whose top 30 this was.  I was around during that period of time and I cannot recall them having any top 30 hits in the USA.  I think they were far more popular in Europe.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2007 at 10:44
Originally posted by madgo2 madgo2 wrote:

You asked me to highlight anything specific which I did.  Have you listened to any of these songs yet.  Have you listened to "Dick Around" off there latest album.  That would be an excellent example of the music they have been playing for the last seven years. 

 
As for a singles band I found that post to be very interesting.  Do you happen to know which songs of theirs were in the top 30 and whose top 30 this was.  I was around during that period of time and I cannot recall them having any top 30 hits in the USA.  I think they were far more popular in Europe.
Cool Places, with Jane Wiedlin, nearly reached the US Top 40 (!)
 
(US) - Dance Chart only:
1999 The No. 1 Song In Heaven  Hot Dance Music/Club Play 28   
1995 (When I Kiss You) I Hear Charlie Parker Playing  Hot Dance Music/Club Play 24   
1989 Just Got Back From Heaven  Hot Dance Music/Club Play 7   
1988 So Important  Hot Dance Music/Club Play 8   
1986 Fingertips (Remix)/The Scene (Remix)  Hot Dance Music/Club Play 38   
1986 Music That You Can Dance To  Hot Dance Music/Club Play 6   
1984 With All My Might  Hot Dance Music/Club Play 28   
UK:
1974 This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us 2    
1974 Amateur Hour 7   
1974 Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth 13   
1975 Something For The Girl With Everything 17   
1975 Get In The Swing 27  
1975 Looks Looks Looks 26   
1979 The Number One Song In Heaven 14    
1979 Beat The Clock 10
 
...but all that aside, I agree they should be considered for Art Rock on the strength of Lil' Beethoven and Hello Young Lovers (and their two Bearsville albums IMHO)


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 08 2007 at 13:32
Cheers Ian, I'll try to remember to IMO in future!LOL
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 09 2007 at 18:17
Thank you for the info on the top 30 hits!  Most of this is the dark era of Sparks as the 80's were for a great many bands.  Of course the 70's tunes are fantastic. Clap
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 11 2007 at 19:52
Really love them, but I just don't think they fit here, or on a classic prog compilation (one "test" that works for me).
 
Sparks were/are a very clever, funny, unique POP band -- but there are many other great, highly original pop artists out there.
 
Another can of worms.
 
Alt country next? Prog hip hop?
Let the monkey drive.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 11 2007 at 20:09
Again, the problem is that damned vague, subjective "progressive" word.
 
To me at least, it implies a time and a sound, more so than a compositional attitude or "difference."
 
As ever, the so-called "Prog Related" is a big managerial problem. I get the "proto prog" concept -- stuff that came before classic prog, and helped shape it/pave the way. But we can't just include all good music that came after, unless the name of the site and its focus is to change, and become even MORE hopelessly subjective, ala "Good Music Archives." Stern%20Smile
 
Satisfactorily categorizing music, and trying to make it all either fit within or outside one broad, over-arching (and artificial) "category" is just about impossible, and pointless, because every music fan has their own take on what they hear, and because art transcends verbal boundaries.
 
(As i've said about 1000 time here....Wacko)
 
Enough -- add new prog bands -- the old ones are long since already here!


Edited by Peter - June 11 2007 at 20:10
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 11 2007 at 20:15
^ If an old non-prog band starts producing progressive music today (in whatever sub-genre), would you consider them in the same light as a new prog band?

Edited by darqdean - June 11 2007 at 20:15


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 11 2007 at 22:31
Originally posted by Peter Peter wrote:

Really love them, but I just don't think they fit here, or on a classic prog compilation (one "test" that works for me).
 
Sparks were/are a very clever, funny, unique POP band -- but there are many other great, highly original pop artists out there.
 
Another can of worms.
 
Alt country next? Prog hip hop?
 
Peter, have you listened to Li'l Beethoven or Hello Young Lovers?  Eithier of these albums I consider to be more progressive than half the bands that are on this site.  These guys are and always have been willing to take creatvity to the next level and with the exception of the 80's stuff their music of the seventies and the last ten years or so is all very progressive.   No offense but not fitting in here...I am not sure what that means.  Deep Purple and the Church fit in here as does numerous mediocre Tangerine Dream releases...not to mention the Beatles and even Kate Bush...all fine bands/musicians but their is most definitley not a narrow scope of bands on this site.


Edited by madgo2 - June 11 2007 at 22:33
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2007 at 00:25
Originally posted by darqdean darqdean wrote:

^ If an old non-prog band starts producing progressive music today (in whatever sub-genre), would you consider them in the same light as a new prog band?
I suppose I would -- but again, the main problem is the highly subjective nature of the "P" word.Ermm
 
 
 
Classic, neo, whatever -- for me, if it sounds like prog rock, it is prog rock (regardless of whether or not it does anything truly new).
 
Everyone has their own take on "progressive," but the term is too often bandied about here as if it were a known, firmly fixed quantity. It's not, and through sweeping additions, and tacking it on to other genres, (prog metal, prog folk, etc) it is rapidly losing whatever little meaning it once had, until it means little more than "good," "non-commercial" or "kind of different." Stern%20Smile
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 12 2007 at 00:49
Originally posted by madgo2 madgo2 wrote:

Originally posted by Peter Peter wrote:

Really love them, but I just don't think they fit here, or on a classic prog compilation (one "test" that works for me).
 
Sparks were/are a very clever, funny, unique POP band -- but there are many other great, highly original pop artists out there.
 
Another can of worms.
 
Alt country next? Prog hip hop?
 
Smile I'll respond within your post, in blue:
 
Peter, have you listened to Li'l Beethoven or Hello Young Lovers? 
 
No, not yet. I want the latter, though. I have their four classic albums, from "Kimono" to Big Beat.Smile
 
Eithier of these albums I consider to be more progressive than half the bands that are on this site. 
 
You are relying on a modern, revisionist, literal, dictionary-type interpretation of "progressive," I think, and I don't subscribe to that notion of the term. You are also using a "two wrongs make a right" type argument.
 
These guys are and always have been willing to take creatvity to the next level and with the exception of the 80's stuff their music of the seventies and the last ten years or so is all very progressive.   No offense but not fitting in here...I am not sure what that means.  Deep Purple and the Church fit in here as does numerous mediocre Tangerine Dream releases...not to mention the Beatles and even Kate Bush...all fine bands/musicians but their is most definitley not a narrow scope of bands on this site.
 
Again, two (or more) wrongs don't make a right, and to me, Deep Purple (to name just one) do NOT fit in here. Sparks were never a "prog" band, and none of their classic material would fit in well with tracks from widely-accepted prog acts of that era. What is the sonic/stylistic connection between Kimono My House or Propaganda, and the music artists like Floyd, Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, Tull, etc, were making then?
 
If clever, well-crafted pop is to be a new hallmark of "progressive," then at least 500 artists (my rough estimate) currently not listed would have to be added. Then watch the sh*t hit the fan!
 
And what about other genres? Perhaps pop is more palatable to more prog fans, but, in fairness, other areas of music have seen "progression" and trail-blazing, genre-bending & blending artists, too. (Soul, blues, hip hop, punk, new wave, country, new age, ska, folk, reggae, world, ETC.) We pick and choose genres & artists to favour with our s"tamp of approval" here, but that is a very biased process, IMO.
 
Once more, the crux of the issue and problem is that "progressive" is not really a stylistic genre, but an increasingly elitist value judgment that is appended to a wide range of unrelated genres and artists, in what often amounts to a popularity (or unpopularity) contest. Now more than ever, it is an artificial, near-meaningless term. Art does not lend itself to verbal "packaging" or even wide consensus as to "what it is" -- least of all via such a vague, inadequate, subjective, outdated and contentious term as "progressive." Stern%20Smile 


Edited by Peter - June 12 2007 at 01:48
Let the monkey drive.

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