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21 days. 39 years. 8-ish genres. 6 one-hit wonders. 1 Russell. 1 Ron.
June 4, 2014 5:13 PM   Subscribe

I only agreed to do it because I thought it wouldn't happen. Twenty-one albums in 21 nights? More than 270 songs? Are you nuts? Sure, let's do it.

In May and June 2008, Sparks celebrated what was nearly their 40th year as a band with an astonishing three-week concert series: every night, they performed one of their then-21 albums in its entirety, ending with the just-released Exotic Creatures of the Deep. Unlike most groups that formed in 1969, Sparks has kept themselves appealing and intriguing through a series of reinventions that saw them playing glam rock and disco, new wave and a couple varieties of synthpop. Unusually for a band in its third decade, 2002 saw a critically-acclaimed near-complete reinvention of their musical approach, one that emphasized minimalist layering, unusual (and hilarious) genre juxtapositions [note: kitties], and unusually clever and sinister approaches to lyricism. 21x21, then, was a virtuosic tribute to a virtuosic band, one whose appeal was far, far more than surface deep. Which is why, thank God, there is...

...extensive documentation of each of the 21 concerts on YouTube, presenting here for your listening enjoyment. Video quality is a bit poor — this was 2008 YouTube, after all — and not every recording is available, so original recordings are provided as well, as are music videos and live performances when available.

Also included are recordings from the 2013 Two Hands, One Mouth tour, in which a band known for its elaborate stage performances stripped down to its keyboardist and its singer, and still knocked every song out of the park.

New to Sparks? Terrified? Not certain where to begin? Here's my recommendation: watch them play their biggest hit in '74, watch them confuse Danny Devito in the '80s, watch them sounding all trendy in the '90s, and then watch them make fun of PhotoShop live on stage in 2008. Be struck by the fact that you've just seen a band age 35 years whilst adapting their sound to every decade they've been a part of, without once sounding like they're just fogeys playing catch-up. Pause to admire vocalist Russell Mael's fashion sense and pianist Ron Mael's never-ending grimace/glare. Then there're two ways you can go:

If you want to catch up on the classics, here they are: Kimono My House (night 3), their biggest glam hit; No. 1 in Heaven (night 8), their biggest disco hit; Angst in My Pants (night 11), not their biggest new wave hit but better than In Outer Space (night 12), which was their biggest; and Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins (night 16), which was their big comeback album. I also recommend Indiscreet (night 5) as a terrifically creative and unusual album, if you're looking for a fascinatingly unusual record.

If you're curious why some critics think their last decade may have been their best, skip straight to Lil' Beethoven (night 19). Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Do not forget to watch their live performances, because their stage shows are elaborate, hilarious, and just pretty wonderful all around. Everything they've done since 2002 is aces, so just pick song titles you think are amusing and go to town!

In any event, enjoy.

NIGHT 1: Halfnelson/Sparks [Rock, 1971]
21x21 / studio recording

Wonder Girl [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Fa La Fa Lee [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Roger [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
High C [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Fletcher Honorama [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Simple Ballet [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Slowboat [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Biology 2 [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Saccharin and the War [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Big Bands [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
(No More) Mr. Nice Guys [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 2: A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing [Rock, 1972]
21x21 / studio recording

Girl From Germany [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Beaver O'Lindy [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Nothing is Sacred [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Here Comes Bob [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Moon Over Kentucky [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Do Re Mi [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Angus Desire [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Underground [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Louvre [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Batteries Not Included [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Whippings and Apologies [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 3: Kimono My House [Glam, 1974]
21x21 / studio recording

This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Amateur Hour [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Falling In Love With Myself Again [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Here In Heaven [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Thank God It's Not Christmas [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Hasta Mañana, Monsieur [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Talent Is An Asset [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Complaints [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
In My Family [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Equator [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 4: Propaganda [Glam, 1974]
21x21 / studio recording

Propaganda [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
At Home, At Work, At Play [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Reinforcements [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
B.C. [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Thanks But No Thanks [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Don't Leave Me Alone with Her [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Something for the Girl with Everything [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Achoo [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Who Don't Like Kids [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Bon Voyage [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 5: Indiscreet [Swing/Chamber Pop/Misc, 1975]
21x21 / studio recording

Hospitality On Parade [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Happy Hunting Ground [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Without Using Hands [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Get in the Swing [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Under the Table With Her [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
How Are You Getting Home? [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Pineapple [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Tits [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
It Ain't 1918 [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Lady is Lingering [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
In the Future [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Looks, Looks, Looks [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Miss the Start, Miss the End [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 6: Big Beat [Arena Rock, 1976]
21x21 / studio recording

Big Boy [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
I Want to Be Like Everybody Else [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Nothing to Do [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
I Bought the Mississippi River [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Fill-er-up [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Everybody's Stupid [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Throw Her Away (and Get a New One) [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Confusion [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Screwed Up [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
White Women [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
I Like Girls [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 7: Introducing Sparks [Beach Boys Soundalike, 1977]
21x21 / studio recording

A Big Surprise [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Occupation [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Ladies [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
I'm Not [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Forever Young [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Goofing Off [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Girls on the Brain [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Over the Summer [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Those Mysteries [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 8: No. 1 in Heaven [Disco, 1979]
21x21 / studio recording

Tryouts for the Human Race [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Academy Award Performance [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
La Dolce Vita [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Beat the Clock [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
My Other Voice [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Number One Song in Heaven [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 9: Terminal Jive [Disco, 1980]
21x21 / studio recording

When I'm with You [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Just Because You Love Me [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Rock 'n' Roll People in a Disco World [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
When I'm with You (Instrumental) [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Young Girls [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Noisy Boys [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Stereo [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Greatest Show on Earth [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 10: Whomp That Sucker [New Wave, 1981]
21x21 / studio recording

Tips for Teens [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Funny Face [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Where's My Girl [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Upstairs [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
I Married a Martian [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Willys [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Don't Shoot Me [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Suzie Safety [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
That's Not Nastassia [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Wacky Women [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 11: Angst in My Pants [New Wave, 1982]
21x21 / studio recording

Angst in My Pants [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
I Predict [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Sextown U.S.A. [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Sherlock Holmes [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Nicotina [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Mickey Mouse [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Moustache [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Instant Weight Loss [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Tarzan and Jane [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Decline and Fall of Me [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Eaten by the Monster of Love [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 12: In Outer Space [Synthpop, 1983]
21x21 / studio recording

Cool Places [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Popularity [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Prayin' For a Party [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
All You Ever Think About is Sex [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Please Baby Please [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Rockin' Girls [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
I Wish I Looked a Little Better [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Lucky Me, Lucky You [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
A Fun Bunch of Guys From Outer Space [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Dance Godammit [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 13: Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat [Synthpop, 1984]
21x21 / studio recording

Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Love Scenes [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Pretending To Be Drunk [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Progress [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
With All My Might [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Sparks In The Dark (Part One) [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Everybody Move [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
A Song That Sings Itself [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Sisters [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Kiss Me Quick [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Sparks In The Dark (Part Two) [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 14: Music That You Can Dance To [Club/Dance/Synthpop, 1986]
21x21 / studio recording

Music That You Can Dance To [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Rosebud [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Fingertips [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Armies of the Night [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Scene [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Shopping Mall of Love [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Modesty Plays (New version) [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Let's Get Funky [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 15: Interior Design [Synthpop, 1988]
21x21 / studio recording

So Important [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Just Got Back From Heaven [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Lots Of Reasons [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
You've Got a Hold of My Heart [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Love-O-Rama [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Toughest Girl in Town [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Let's Make Love [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Stop Me if You've Heard this Before [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
A Walk Down Memory Lane [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Madonna [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 16: Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins [Synth/Dance, 1994]
21x21 / studio recording

Gratuitous Sax [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
When Do I Get to Sing "My Way" [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
(When I Kiss You) I Hear Charlie Parker Playing [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Frankly, Scarlett, I Don't Give a Damn [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
I Thought I Told You to Wait in the Car [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Now That I Own the BBC [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Tsui Hark (Featuring Tsui Hark and Bill Kong) [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Ghost of Liberace [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Let's Go Surfing [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Senseless Violins [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 17: Plagiarism [Self-Plagiarism, 1997]
21x21 / studio recording

Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
No 1 Song in Heaven (Part Two) [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Funny Face [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
When Do I Get to Sing "My Way" [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Angst in My Pants [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Change [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Popularity [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Something For the Girl With Everything [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us (with Faith No More) [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Beat the Clock [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Big Brass Ring [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Amateur Hour (with Erasure) [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Propaganda [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
When I'm With You [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Something For The Girl With Everything (with Faith No More) [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Orchestral Collage [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Number One Song in Heaven (with Jimmy Somerville) [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 18: Balls [Synth/Rock, 2000]
21x21 / studio recording

Balls [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
More Than a Sex Machine [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Scheherazade [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Aeroflot [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Calm Before the Storm [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
How to Get Your Ass Kicked [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Bullet Train [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
It's a Knockoff [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Irreplaceable [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
It's Educational [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Angels [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 19: Lil' Beethoven [Minimalism/Chamber Pop/Art Rock, 2002]
21x21 / studio recording

The Rhythm Thief [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall? [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
What Are All These Bands So Angry About? [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
I Married Myself [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Ride 'Em Cowboy [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
My Baby's Taking Me Home [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Your Call's Very Important To Us. Please Hold. [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Ugly Guys With Beautiful Girls [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Suburban Homeboy [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 20: Hello Young Lovers [Minimalism/Chamber Pop/Art Rock, 2006]
21x21 / studio recording

Dick Around [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Perfume [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Very Next Fight [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
(Baby, Baby) Can I Invade Your Country [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Rock, Rock, Rock [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Metaphor [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Waterproof [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Here Kitty [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
There's No Such Thing as Aliens [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
As I Sit to Play The Organ at the Notre Dame Cathedral [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]

NIGHT 21: Exotic Creatures of the Deep [Minimalism/Chamber Pop/Art Rock, 2008]
21x21 / studio recording

Intro [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Good Morning [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Strange Animal [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
I Can't Believe That You Would Fall for All the Crap in this Song [21x21 / original recording / music video / live (2) / 2h1m]
Let the Monkey Drive [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Intro Reprise [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
I've Never Been High [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
(She Got Me) Pregnant [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Lighten Up, Morrissey [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
This is the Renaissance [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
The Director Never Yelled 'Cut' [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Photoshop [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
Likeable [21x21 / original recording / music video / live / 2h1m]
posted by Rory Marinich (55 comments total) 118 users marked this as a favorite

 
omg
posted by neroli at 5:24 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Wow!
posted by droplet at 5:30 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


I assume no one else will comment here for at least 21 hours.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:32 PM on June 4 [6 favorites]


Honestly I'd never heard of Sparks before this post but...I know what I'll be doing for the next few hours. And why am I getting a vibe like...like...The Darkness?
posted by MikeMc at 5:40 PM on June 4


This post ain't big enough for the both of us.
posted by naju at 5:47 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


This post ain't big enough for the both of us.

Not to get too personal, but one or both of you must be pretty damn huge.
posted by yoink at 5:50 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Truly amazing post. Holy cow.

I'm not an expert on Sparks or Zappa, but as a casual fan of Sparks and a casual not-fan of Zappa they've always struck as opposing sides of the virtuoso coin. With Zappa, I get this feeling like he knew he was probably the smartest guy in any room and he had music all figured out early on, and it manifested in a lot of snark and noise. Like, experimental with a side order of Fuck you. But Sparks went the other way, they figured out all this shit about music but stayed really dorky and enthusiastic about it. So their albums are experimental with a side order of Look, we made a thing!

And Ron Mael's dancing is always gold. Terrifying, hilarious gold.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:51 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


I always confuse Sparks with... shoot, is it Sweet? Slade? Both?

Which is a shame, because my husband introduced me to them almost backwards, with "Can I Invade Your Country" and "Your Call Is Very Important To Us" and I was hooked. EVEN BEFORE I learned that they did the original of "This Town..." which is basically my favorite nasty bitch power song ever.

Love them.
posted by Madamina at 5:51 PM on June 4


When you have a minute, I will explain to you how I was planning on adapting Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing' into a musical using Sparks songs and why I eventually abandoned that idea, even after getting permission.

That said, the Mael Brothers are the best. Their music has made me dance and smile for decades. That I didn't get to attend the 21 albums in 21 nights event will always be a lasting regret. I hope that someday they release a 21 DVD set.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:54 PM on June 4 [4 favorites]


I had to scroll and scroll and scroll to find the "add to favorites" link. But I damn sure did it though.
posted by Western Infidels at 5:55 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


The first time I hears Sparks was the Faith No More collaboration, and I'm still pretty sure that this is all an elaborate hoax and they started making music like 10 years ago.
posted by Huck500 at 5:57 PM on June 4


Wait, they did a song with Tsui Hark? In 1994? WTF??
posted by Huck500 at 5:59 PM on June 4


When you have a minute

We all of us have a minute, do go on...
posted by Huck500 at 5:59 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


This is an epic post. I love Sparks. Thank you SO MUCH.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:25 PM on June 4


This was just epic. Thank you.
posted by pywacket at 6:30 PM on June 4


*wipes a single tear from his cheek*

I love you.
posted by SansPoint at 6:33 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


I know.

...wait, wrong 70s pop culture reference, my bad
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:35 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Love these guys. Nice post.
posted by Glomar response at 6:36 PM on June 4


Back when I was working for the film archive, my then-boss's sister got the golden ticket to see all 21 shows in London as a 50th (?) birthday gift. At one point I was working in his apartment (as opposed to the archive), and he pulled out a copy of Propaganda that Ron had personally signed to his sister. Apparently Russell was too busy "close talking" to a few young ladies to add his greetings as well.

I finally got to see them on the "Two Hands, One Mouth" tour last year. The night the Sox won the World Series at Fenway. Ron danced! Russell kissed my hand! It was everything I hoped it would be.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:54 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


I hadn't heard of them before encountering “Let the monkey drive” when it made the rounds a few years back. Started exploring their back catalog and … wow … dis they resist picking a single style.

Great post!
posted by adamsc at 7:11 PM on June 4


Excuse while I go subscribe. Stuff like this makes Metafilter priceless. Thank you.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:17 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


And here we have my next few weeks' worth of coding and data analysis music. Thank you Rory, you're a living MetaFilter saint.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:49 PM on June 4


I'm not an expert on Sparks or Zappa, but as a casual fan of Sparks and a casual not-fan of Zappa they've always struck as opposing sides of the virtuoso coin. With Zappa, I get this feeling like he knew he was probably the smartest guy in any room and he had music all figured out early on, and it manifested in a lot of snark and noise. Like, experimental with a side order of Fuck you. But Sparks went the other way, they figured out all this shit about music but stayed really dorky and enthusiastic about it. So their albums are experimental with a side order of Look, we made a thing!

One of the really fascinating things about Sparks is that beneath the simple goofy likability of a lot of their music, you have some really strange stuff going on. They flirt with atonality, incorporate a lot of theories from more serious schools of music into their work, and generally push their work into territory that your average "pop" musician just doesn't bother trying to explore. But Sparks does — boy, do they.

I just reached my final unexplored era of Sparks last week — I'd completely missed their 80s material, and upon discovering Angst in my Pants got re-re-re-hooked on them, as if I needed the added infatuation. Bouncing about their discography the way I have, you get the sense that every so often (read: every year) they get some new idea for how they want to write music — more layering! more irony! more guitar! more harmonies! — and then they roll with it until they get bored or have a new idea of whatever. Their super-early material (including the bootleg 1969 demo I didn't link here) is very Ween-like, clearly inspired by Zappa and Beefheart, and it sounds a lot closer to what you'd think of as wildly experimental rock music... but by Kimono My House, it feels like they were just bouncing off of enthusiasm after enthusiasm.

What's neat is that over time, their various experiments and findings sort of accumulated. Angst in My Pants is Kimono with the lushness and compositional togetherness of, say, No. 1 in Heaven; Lil' Beethoven is an extension of the experiment they did with Introducing Sparks' "Goofing Off", where they fired shallow lyrics off against a weirdly minor and complex arrangement that doesn't seem to fit at all. By the time you get to their 90s work, like Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins, they've found a way to mix their uber-convoluted lyricism with their more delicious texturings, but they're still experimenting with repetition and spoken-word and some really bizarre compositions, and then they hit a point where it seems like they've put so much thought into what they're doing that every facet of what they're writing is just truly, truly, gorgeously brilliant. And catchy! Catchy as heck! But brilliant about it.

I tried to link to my favorite songs from the last decade above the fold, but seriously, there's something crazy about Dick Around, even the 4-minute edit that cuts the fact that they opened an album with a 7-minute epic about a guy who just doesn't do anything ever. You've got these insane harmonies, string arrangements that just abruptly give way to angry rock guitar halfway through one verse, some rapid-fire spoken-word, and it's all over a video that looks about as thrown-together and ridiculous as Joel Veitch's kitten lip syncs. It's crazy! Nobody does that. And if somebody DID do that, they wouldn't do it in a way that manages to convince you that you're listening to a song that's as puerile and unconcerned with its "message" as anything you've ever heard.

I Can't Believe That You Would Fall For All The Crap In This Song is even crazier. I mean, it's a gimmick song and the gimmick is right there in the title. But they take that and strip it down to nothing more than a couple of repeated phrases, and make it four minutes of gradually intensifying negativity, and I mean is there any chance that this isn't a song about an abusive relationship? At least on some level? I mean it's about a lot of other things too, including probably a meta-commentary on pop songs, but that song totally sounds like somebody drowning in a relationship with a gaslighting, emotionally-manipulative asshole. And yet it's still totally playful and earwormy as hell. Like it's doing all these insanely interesting and clever things, but without beating you over the head with the fact that it is.

Exotic Creatures is pretty much song after song that's that insanely good, too. Good Morning has some crazy highs and lows for a pop song, and She Got Me Pregnant is agitated in a way that's dark and really funny and dark because it's funny and funny because it's dark, and I mean again the entire gag is right there in the title, but they spin it out into this weird ambiguous song that's still a total singalong. And then they sing maybe the only satirical pop song about the Renaissance ever and The Director Never Yelled "Cut" has all that crazy dissonance in it and it's still so damn catchy that it's only when you stop to think "....wait WHAT?" that you realize pretty much everything about these songs, from the arrangements to the subject matter to the way it uses its words, is in the sort of bizarre realm occupied by bands like Ween or Mr. Bungle or, well, Zappa, only they are totally giddy and silly and approachable and they don't even cuss, for Christ's sake. And they pin the entire album around a recurring theme which resolves into a song about somebody who is perfectly likable but still makes it unsettling and ominous, except for the parts that sound like a circus waltz?!, and yet it still almost sounds like all it is is a novelty song in the vein of Weird Al, if Weird Al and PDQ Bach got together and decided to critique consumer culture and sexism with the South Park guys, or I don't even know. I'm so confused, man. But geez are those all some fun catchy songs.

Zappa kind of had that going on in his music, in the way he'd take doo-wop music or Louie Louie and make them the crux of some high-concept dramas about America collapsing or sucking or whatever, but yeah he definitely had this powerful resentment of how shallow and unintelligent he felt the culture around him to be. And you get that in Ween and Mr. Bungle too, at least a little bit. But Sparks seems more amused than anything — their most boring albums are the ones where they try to parody genres by being stupider than they are, because for all that they can write some decent melodies even then, there's no other "there" there. They seem to've realized that, though, and switched to coming up with ways of using all of the silly cheap stupid things about pop music that everybody likes to make points about the cheap stupidity. Maybe. I'm not entirely sure. They do like taking their potshots at people who aren't fond of the Brechtian/Duchampian notion that art ought to make you think — hell, they even wrote a musical about the notion. But they don't hold themselves above the silly whimsical stuff, either. They embrace it, and figure out what kinds of weirdness you can create within an entirely pleasant, humorous space.

I'm still not past the point where my geekery for them has resolved into much more than babble, though. I mean, they have an enormous catalogue, and a good 60-70% of it is good at the very least. Even their pre-Kimono albums have some great material on them, Kimono is the zany crazy mindfuck I was told it would be going in, and a year and two albums later, Indiscreet feels like a total "these guys can and will do anything, as soon as they can just get around to it" release. And that's still more than 30 years before the stuff of theirs I got hooked on first. But when you listen to something like In The Future and realize that it was written in 1975, and already seems to be predicting the direction pop's going to go with Giorgio Moroder a couple of years later — a direction that Sparks and Moroder worked on together, in fact — there's definitely this sense that these guys are going to be tough to keep pace with. With a couple of misguided exceptions along the way, they pretty much lived up to that and have continued to up through their most recent releases.

I don't know if I have a vocabulary, or if I have any useful terminologies, to describe how awesome I even think Sparks is. The only other musician who comes to mind who's been as prolific as they are and has been around for as long as they are is Bowie, and I don't feel like Bowie's been quite as consistently experimental throughout his career (obviously he was for a decade or two; also, maybe I'm just mistaken). The only people I can think to compare them to at all are radically different in their approaches. and the only comparison that I can draw is that they're consistently trying new things, and making beautiful music, and defying categorization. But even among all those artists, Sparks is by far the catchiest and guilty-pleasure-sounding-est of them all. It's really quite remarkable. And apparently attempting to categorize their entire career hasn't dented how giddy I am about them this month even a little, whoops.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:31 PM on June 4 [13 favorites]


Oh and if you want a real clash of conventionally-pleasant and conventionally-challenging, here's what happens when Sparks and Yoko Ono make music together. (Spoiler: it is terrific.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:41 PM on June 4


My very first concert ever was Sparks at Magic Mountain sometime in the very early 80s. I felt super grown up.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:47 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


And all I really knew of them was "Dick Around". I just love that song. I think I'll pick up Lil' Beethoven now. And this post was just awesome. [more inside], indeed.
posted by Ambient Echo at 9:31 PM on June 4


Rory, you gotta write a book!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:32 PM on June 4


I am enthralled and terrified by this post. I have friends who are heavily into Sparks and I've wondered about them. I guess it's time to find out.
posted by immlass at 9:36 PM on June 4


How is it I never knew anything about Sparks? The only song I immediately recognize is Cool Places.

At my age and with my music background, I'm forced to wonder how a band of this stature, that's this prolific and varied and influential on so many bands I respect has flown under my radar for this long.

I feel like I just found an extra room in a house I've lived in all my life.

Thanks for showing me a whole new unexplored-by-me musical continent, Rory Marinich. Revelations of this level are few and far between nowadays.
posted by chimaera at 9:48 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


If you were introduced to Sparks by "Cool Places" with Russell duet-ing with I-forget-which-one-of-the-Go-Gos, I can forgive you for not keeping up. Probably their singular sell-out moment and sounded like it...
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:04 PM on June 4


If anyone's new to Sparks and is wondering where to start, and doesn't want to just dive in for some reason, my site has reviews of ALL the Sparks albums, sorta geared for the neophyte... The Sparks Project. We've also done The Residents -- which is almost up to date; we're at Coochie Brake, and are in the process of doing The Legendary Pink Dots... and I kinda wanna do Zappa too....)


But short answer:

It's all awesome, but stay away from Interior Design. That one's pretty ass.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 11:18 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


I was introduced to Sparks thanks to the TV show "Gilmore Girls" which featured Sparks as troubadours in Stars Hollow singing "Perfume", and then "Suburban Homeboy" in the background of a pivotal Rory + Logan scene. Presumably a favorite band of show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, she then set a dance to "I Predict" on her next show "Bunheads" (pretty sure I'm the only person who watched that short-lived show).
posted by girlhacker at 11:27 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


Probably their singular sell-out moment and sounded like it...

Hey, now! Jane Wiedlin rocks, and that song is awesome new wave dance pop, with a chewy satirical center!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:27 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


Nice post. I might be one of those eccentrics (amidst Sparks fans? No!) who likes Big Beat the best.

I once went to see Sparks. It was the most amazing concert I never saw.

LA Street Scene 1985.
City Hall Plaza downtown.

Opening acts: Agent Orange. Fishbone.
Main stage: Sparks, followed by The Ramones.

Result: A Police Riot.

A very misinformed report from the LA Times:

The first encounter between police and young rock fans occurred Saturday afternoon at a stage on San Pedro Street near Temple Street, a stage that had been reserved both Saturday and Sunday for punk rock-type acts. According to officers, whose command post is within view of the stage, a few dozen spectators were pushing and shoving each other and throwing bottles at the stage. Some of the rowdy spectators were perched on a multilevel parking structure above the stage.

Um, no. Agent Orange threw some free skateboard decks into the mosh pit, near the end of their act. Minor moshing and contention for the prizes resulted in some bystanders on the sidewalk being jostled on their way to the Salsa stage nearby. In response to complaints, the LAPD Mounted Police responded for crowd control and by then, Fishbone was on the stage. The punk stage was shut down in the middle of their performance. That was a very poor decision. The punk crowd was dispersed, they went towards the Main Stage, where Sparks was scheduled to appear several hours later, as the opening act for The Ramones.

About 150 officers, including 40 on horseback, were called in to clear a crowd that Treidler estimated at between 2,000 and 3,000--"more than we anticipated." Several people were arrested, including one person who was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after being accused of throwing a bottle at a policeman, officers said. A police spokesman said two or three spectators and one patrolman suffered minor injuries. Bystanders said police fanned out on San Pedro Street from Temple to 1st streets. Street Scene organizers shut down the stage for the rest of the festival and sent other acts scheduled there to nearby stages.

Late Saturday night, a heavy-metal band was playing the day's last show on a stage on Main Street between Temple and Aliso streets when police attempted to close the show in response to a report that some spectators had thrown bottles onto the stage and were climbing on it and attacking performers and security personnel.

"There was absolutely no warning from the police. No one got up on stage and said, 'You have to leave,' " said Debra Rosner, publicist for the group, Poison.


What?!? I never heard about that before. Metalheads? It figures. Their stage was on the other side of the plaza. Well that explains where the metalhead came from, that went up on the main stage and started vandalizing Sparks' equipment. Then the crowd started getting antsy. The music was gone, and the stage was getting trashed so it wasn't coming back. Some assholes (yeah probably the metalheads) started tipping over the big open oil drums that were filled with water, and placed all over the plaza as crowd barriers. Water started pouring over the ground across the plaza, and people started running out of the way to avoid getting their feet wet. The police thought people were rioting, and the LAPD Mounted Police rushed in with batons swinging. One of the batons went right over my head and into the face of a nearby metalhead, who deserved it because he was beating up a woman. My girlfriend and I ran and got the hell out of there. We ran 3 blocks, all the way home to Traction Avenue. Wow, it was a good thing I didn't take that acid before the concert. That would have been a bummer.

We tried to go back Sunday night to see Johnny Winter. We couldn't get near it. We were blocked by Latino gangbangers. We tried to go to the other side of the crowd, but wherever we tried to enter, the gangs bunched up and linked arms to block us. The entire concert as cordoned off. So we went home. An hour later, somebody at the concert was shot and killed. I think we dodged a bullet.

I was especially disappointed I didn't get to see The Ramones. On Monday, my sister (a well connected clubgoer) said, "we heard they were doing a secret makeup show, so check the LA Weekly on Thursday, and look for a listing with Ramones spelled backwards." That Friday I saw Senomar at the Whiskey A Go Go.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:46 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


In Rorys previous Sparks post i linked to interviews and acoustic songs with them and Steve Jones from 2004 and 2006 on Indie 103.1
posted by stuartmm at 11:59 PM on June 4


If I were forced to guess how many albums Sparks had in their catalog, I would have been off by at least 16 or 17.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:25 AM on June 5


Also prominently featured on the Valley Girl soundtrack .
posted by cottoncandybeard at 3:45 AM on June 5


I like that their keyboard says "Ronald."
posted by ignignokt at 4:32 AM on June 5


And what do you get if you call in Sparks to write lyrics for a group of Belgian intellectuals who make music entirely with electronics, except for the voices, which are sometimes real?

You get pure Sex, that's what.

Brainwash
Drama, Drama
Haven't We Met Somewhere Before?
Long Holiday
The Man With the Answer
Carbon Copy
Exercise Is Good for You
Dream-O-Mat
Sigmund Freud's Party

The combination of Sparks wordplay and Telex electronics is just so...
posted by sonascope at 5:25 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I throw myself face-down on the ground, trembling in awe at this post.

I will now go and make a little sonic shrine to it. First I have to get 21 days' worth of incense.
posted by mondo dentro at 6:35 AM on June 5


I agree with everything that's been written here, even the bits that are wrong.

If you can carry it off, if you can hit those notes or at least drunk enough to convince yourself you can, then 'This Town Ain't Big Enough...' is a karaoke showstopper. Partly because it's an amazing, glorious romp of a song, and partly because it will be the first chance most people have ever had to see quite how insane the lyrics are, as they flash by on screen.

(Note: make sure you know what the lyrics are before you attempt this the first time.)
posted by Hogshead at 7:28 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


At pioneer independent community radio station KRAB FM in Seattle in the 1970s, the albums of Sparks and Dr. Buzzard's Savannah Band were the least stolen by volunteers.
posted by y2karl at 7:59 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Hogshead: Just looked them up. Wow. There're some doozy lines there which casual listening never revealed.

Daily, except for Sunday
You dawdle in to the cafe where you meet her each day
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
As twenty cannibals have hold of you,
they need their protein just like you do —

This town ain't big enough for the both of us.

posted by Rory Marinich at 8:01 AM on June 5


I like that their keyboard says "Ronald."

Ah yes, the Ronald musical instrument company, makers of the Jitepur and Unoj synths, the venerable Zajz Chruso and Ubec lines of guitar amps, and the classic 088-RT drum machine. They recently acquired the SOBS guitar effects pedal and Wakeclak RONAS software brands, as well. They've certainly provided some stiff competition for the much older and larger Haaamy Corporation in a number of market segments over the years.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:37 AM on June 5


I was introduced to Sparks thanks to the TV show "Gilmore Girls" which featured Sparks as troubadours in Stars Hollow singing "Perfume", and then "Suburban Homeboy" in the background of a pivotal Rory + Logan scene. Presumably a favorite band of show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, she then set a dance to "I Predict" on her next show "Bunheads" (pretty sure I'm the only person who watched that short-lived show).

For a handful of reasons, I generally avoid Gilmore Girls as a cultural entity, but every new fact I learn about it makes the show seem like a slightly stranger animal. So far I've got:

1) Somebody on the show is named Rory, and people like/care about/know her so much/well that they will always, always ask me if I know who Rory Gilmore is on account of my name is one-third similar to hers.

2) Matt Czuchry, who is apparently a major-ish character on the show (he appears in that second clip), is good friends with Tucker Max, which I learned about the one time I hung out with the two of them on Tucker Max's tour bus. I don't know how much this affects the man or his Gilmore Girls character, but I can only imagine.

And now we have

3) Gilmore Girls was created by somebody who likes Sparks enough to use them as both diegetic and non-diegetic performers.

I want to keep amassing strange tangential facts about this show, so that it slowly becomes this weird indescribable behemoth in my mind that has nothing to do with its actual existence.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:56 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Fact #4: The character 'Rory' is later revealed to be a cute nickname for a small tidal whirlpool off the Belgian coast and the rest of the series revolves around a beach trip
posted by shakespeherian at 9:59 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ, what a post.

The Time I Met Sparks, shamelessly reposted from the original MeFi thread about their 21 night run back in 2007. Which like an idiot I completely failed to get tickets for:

"I'm tempted to get a ticket for Number 1 in Heaven, since it has Number One Song In Heaven and Beat The Clock on it.

About 18 months ago I interviewed Sparks when they were playing a small music festival on the Isle of Skye (third on the main stage bill to, um, KT Tunstall and Fun Lovin' Criminals); the weather was fucking abysmal, it had been raining for 36 hours straight and the entire site was a disaster: an armada of psychotically drunk and freezing-cold lunatics just about keeping afloat on a sea of squelching mud, which was dotted with discarded lager cans and Buckfast bottles.

Anyway, Ron and Russell were sat in a small portakabin, rain battering the plastic windows, about an hour before their set, and I wanted to get a few quotes for a news pages puff-piece ("Skye Music Festival succeeds despite horrendous weather; Pope appalled, etc."), so I was ushered into the dressing room. Russell was picking at a bowl of fruit, and Ron was sitting reading – a copy of the Daily Record, the tabloid of choice for Weegie builders; quite what he made of it I can't imagine. Considering they were sat in a chilly, empty plastic box on a hellish festival site in the middle of nowhere on an island off the north west of Scotland, they were remarkably chipper: friendly, relaxed, talkative (I wasn't about to ask the three necessary questions and then bugger off – this was a chance to speak to Sparks, for God's sake). What really weirded me out, though, was that they, like, spoke like complete, y'know, uh, like, California surfer dudes. Man. It was such a jarring disconnect; I remember seeing them on telly as a kid and automatically assumed they were mittel-European degenerates who existed on a diet of Weimar whores' blood and obscure prescription pharmaceuticals. Obviously, later, I found out they were American, but I wasn't quite ready for them to sound like Lebowski.

Oh, and Ron Mael has, hands down, the weirdest face I've ever encountered: behind those glasses, his eyes bulge; he has a big, unforgiving ridge across his big, unforgiving forehead, and skin that looks not so much greasy as it does made from actual lard, or maybe melted candlewax.

Later, running about trying to get quotes from someone else – probably some bunch of indie upstarts – I saw them head from their dressing room over to the back of the stage to start their set. Some festival lackey was protecting them from the elements with a big fuck-off umbrella; Russell Mael, meanwhile, was attempting to navigate 50-odd feet of mud with the consistency of quicksand, while wearing a pair of gleaming white tapered-toe loafers. God knows how, but he made it to the stage without getting a speck of grit on them."
posted by Len at 9:59 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


"The Girls From Gilmore"
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:00 AM on June 5


I was a huge fan of the Sparks' 80's output (the dropbox folder my Mrs. eyeballkid and I share music through these days is called "musicthatyoucandanceto"), but it was years before I realized that that Siouxsie song was a Sparks song that was released when I was two years old.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:56 PM on June 5


OK, so, several years back, I was planning to direct Much Ado About Nothing for the local Shakespeare Festival. This was around the same time that Lil' Beethoven came out and I was listening to that endlessly.

So, I'm reading the play over and over again and listening to Lil' Beethoven over and over again and "Suburban Homeboy" comes to mind. I suddenly have a vision of the soldiers from Much Ado entering the stage dancing to and singing that song. And then it hits me - there's ton of Sparks songs that sound theatrical... and what's more, there's a bunch that at least loosely fit major plot points in Much Ado.

I start wondering if I can make "This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both of Us" a Beatrice/Benedick duet, or if it would work better as a Beatrice solo number. I imagine the closing dialogue building into "My Baby's Taking Me Home." I see Hero and Claudio singing "Cool Places" or maybe "All You Ever Think About It Sex" (thought that could go to Borachio and Margaret and it would make more sense). I figure Don John's big solo can be "When Do i Get To Sing My Way?"

I managed to track down somebody on the internet who is a manager or something of Sparks and she (or maybe he) claims to have run the idea by Ron and Russell who have given the idea a tentative thumbs up, pending seeing what I actually churn out.

I have like seven months before opening and three month before auditions and I start churning. I finish a draft that manages to have both Shakespeare and Sparks in it and... it sucks. Like it really, really sucks. Its now like four hours long and the way I've put it together, the songs drag the action to a complete halt. It doesn't do service to Sparks' music at all, much less to Shakespeare's play.

OK, take two, let's make this "inspired by 'Much Ado About Nothing.'" We'll drop the Shakespearean dialogue and update the setting and change some of the plot points. I don't want to alter the lyrics because, I mean, the lyrics are already perfect.

I put together this version - a very rough version of this - and it sucks even harder. I can't write dialogue that matches the wit of the lyrics. It reads like "Hodor hodor hodor... witty and clever song... hodor hodor." That would have been wittier than my text.

I have a month before auditions now.

My tail between my legs, thoroughly embarrassed by my own work, I retreat one more time to priest hole and try to create something that makes this work - maybe we'll use incidental music by Sparks... maybe I can hybrid something together from the different versions... maybe I just need an extensive rewrite and a decent collaborator with some poetic skill...

Or, maybe, I just need to let it go and edit down "Much Ado" to a reasonable length so the play can be fun without Sparks (because the play does have a certain history of being fun without Sparks) and take more time to try and create this show (which I can still see vividly in my head, even if I can't move it from there to the stage). So I do that and the play goes forward and is a reasonably big success.

To this day, though, I still want to do this and still think it would work. It just needs a better writer.

In the meantime, Sparks released The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman, which is a truer way of moving their work to the stage than I'd thought of.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:00 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


True Fact: Along with Beach Boys, Frank Zappa, The Barbarians, Chuck Berry, The Blossoms. Chuck Berry, James Brown and the Rolling Stones, Sparks were also in the famous 1964 concert movie The T.A.M.I. Show.
posted by y2karl at 10:14 AM on June 7


True Fact: Along with Beach Boys, Frank Zappa, The Barbarians, Chuck Berry, The Blossoms. Chuck Berry, James Brown and the Rolling Stones, Sparks were also in the famous 1964 concert movie The T.A.M.I. Show.

Your true facts are a bit jumbled and misleading.

Frank Zappa and the Maels can be spotted briefly in the audience of The Big TNT Show movie, a different concert recorded over a year later.

Neither Frank Zappa nor Sparks performed in either concert.

The Beach Boys, The Barbarians, Chuck Berry, James Brown, and the Rolling Stones, among others, performed in The TAMI Show.

The Blossoms appeared backing Marvin Gaye.

And only one Chuck Berry appeared, though he was on several times.
 
posted by Herodios at 4:36 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


It was a joke.

I know that the Maels Brothers and not Sparks were in the audience, as well as Frank Zappa, and not on stage. It was a joke. Which was why I did not say they were players, just in the movie.

I have, or rather had, the DVD of The T.A.M.I. Show, where I seem to recall seeing the highlighted clips of said brothers and said Mother in said audience in the Extras.

But memory is the fungible of fungibles -- I loaned someone at my apartment complex the DVD of The T.A.M.I. Show, someone who moved without returning the DVD. And now I can't check it to see if the clips are indeed on it.

And I don't have a DVD of The TNT Show. So, maybe I saw those clips on YouTube or something. Or they, Mael, Mael and Zappa were at the T.N.T. Show but the clips of them got run on the Extras reel of The T.A.M.I. Show DVD. I just don't know.

But you sure seriously fact checked my ass. Over a joke. Over movies I saw when they first came out. But, I sure stand corrected. So, run some victory laps or something. Just not on my lawn.
posted by y2karl at 11:32 PM on June 7


I didn't realize it was a joke and appreciated the fact-check.

Sparks is one of those things that I should really like given my other artistic predilections but just have never gotten into. Sometimes in the past this has meant that I just have to give it a real shot (e.g., Zappa) and sometimes it's meant that it's just not for me (e.g., a cappella). I'll give them one more college try.
posted by dfan at 8:30 AM on June 8


Okay, I make no claims towards being any kind of Sparks expert, and as an '80s kid I'm most familiar with In Outer Space (got no time for "Cool Places" haters), but this part here from the first-linked article:
Highly influenced by the Prodigy, Sparks hit the world in 1997 with "Balls,"
Um… what? Per Wikipedia Sparks were founded in 1971. The Prodigy? 1990.

Am I missing something?
posted by Lexica at 8:34 PM on June 13


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