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Sparks - Kimono My House CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.09 | 78 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
3 stars It's not that art rock didn't have its smarmy and oh so clever proponents - QUEEN, 10CC and to a large extent SUPERTRAMP gushed with disingenuous parody that ultimately mocked itself as much as societal mores. SPARKS was an American version of same, but they actually seemed to be living their personae, at least if the album covers are anything to go on. There is a consistent hit hard but lightly character in Sparks that makes them far more endearing than the above, even if less remembered. They took their humor seriously, and their attitude hinted at punkish devil may care, without looking down on their audience.

I admit that I thought their singer was a woman when I first heard them, and the Maels are quite androgynous in appearance as well. On brilliantly breathless tracks like "Amateur Hour" and "Talent is an Asset" (with the immortal line "We are his relatives, that's parenthetical"), they do better drag than most drag artistes I have seen, which is doubly amazing since I have to imagine the visuals with Sparks. Other major successes here are the hit opener "This Town ain't Big Enough" and the PROCOL HARUM like "Hasta Manana Monsieur".

Combined with SPARKS' somewhat frenetic style can also be discerned a love for nostalgia, at that time being music of the 1930s and 1940s, but more than just the dipping of the toes we saw with Queen. I hear it drifting in and out of most tunes, particularly "Falling in Love with Myself Again" and "Complaints", fully integrated into the modern rock ensemble which attached equal importance to the entire group. The last few songs of the original LP seem more like add-ons and simply don't stick, especially "Equator", which lacks the punchiness of most of the material.

Being a fan of more serious sounding music, and finding little of it here, I have to confess that this group really found a niche and worked it. There was a consistency in their collective vision that could only come about if they weren't working hard at it, which was another manner in which they foreshadowed the coming movement. But unlike punk, these guys actually had talent and knew how to use it, which is an asset in my book. 3 solid stars.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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