Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat

Who else but Russell Mael could work a sweater, scarf and gloves on a German television rock program so effectively? Appearing on "Music Laden" in 1974, Sparks were Americans (from Los Angeles, California, specifically), who, like Scott Walker, and so many before and since, found success in Europe, while Stateside attention eluded them. Sparks were completely punk rock, before the fact, but without being "punk rock" at all, really. They genuinely seemed to be off in a weird, inspired orbit of their own, making them only that much more alluring and endearing.

Sparks were a teenage favorite of mine, and despite being introduced to them in the early 80's, I quickly forraged backwards and discovered their early-to-mid 70's stuff...it sounded like nothing I'd heard before. Weird, hyperactive glammy stompers careened into frenziedly-operatic triple-genre-pileups, and all the while, Russell's spectacular, elastic falsetto soared majestically over the proceedings beneath. I still have a soft spot for the best of their 80's output (namely, Angst In My Pants, and especially Whomp That Sucker), but to me, their finest moment is undoubtedly 1974's Kimono My House.

Hidden away on the flipside of the first single from Kimono ("This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us") was the sparkling "Barbecutie", one of my favorite Sparks songs, and an often-overlooked classic in their catalogue. Starting with a churning bassline, and crashing into a great swirl of organ lashes and plinky-piano loop-de-loops, "Barbecutie" surges along deliriously, and features yet another acrobatic vocal performance from Russell. Pop doesn't get much more perfect than this for me...

Sparks - Barbecutie (MP3, 192kbps, 4.4MB)

For further investigation, I'd point you in the direction of Rhino's 1991 double-disc anthology Profile: The Ultimate Sparks Collection. Collecting 17 years of the Mael brothers' demented genius, from 1971's "Wonder Girl" to 1998's "So Important", there's something for everyone here...yet, inexplicably, it's currently out of print. As Ron and Russell are still cranking out the albums, touring, and finding themselves new generations of fans, even now, perhaps a much-needed reissue could be in order.

1 comment:

Ipod Tech said...

Barbecutie is the best song i've ever heard!

Thank you..