The Sparks Project: A Look Back

Sparks in Londen, November 1972; Ronnie Mael, ...

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Rev. Syung Myung Me: And thus, the Sparks Project draws to a close.  Or at least a nap that’ll probably be a year or two long, depending on when there’s a new Sparks album.  Admittedly, if I had my druthers, that’d be, say, once every month or two, but I can see where they’d need, y’know, time to make the records.  And what with the Seduction of Ingmar Bergman film with Guy Maddin hopefully becoming a reality, it might be longer — but we might finally get the Mael’s film debut.  Or, at least a non-disaster-film debut.

This was actually quite fun — I guess I tend to work better with deadlines anyway, but this rarely felt like a chore.  (Sorry, Interior Design.)  I discovered that some of the records I’d previously disliked (Terminal Jive, say), actually turned out to be pretty great once I listened to them again.  And there weren’t any that were the other way around, which was also nice.  I’d hate to have it where I ended up disliking a Sparks record I previously liked.

 

One of the other surprises was that, well, while they’re still not in high rotation for me, finding that the first two Sparks records were better than I gave ‘em credit for.  Kimono My House might still be the first “real” Sparks record, but Sparks and Woofer in Tweeter’s Clothing shouldn’t be discounted either.  (And, as the recording of “England” with Earle Mankey shows, it’d be cool to hear more of a potential Sparks-First-Generation reunion.)

 

Anyway — I’m kind of sad that I won’t have more Sparks reviews to write, at least for a while.  And I’ve dug how this has gone through.  I’d like to do more of these sorts of “Projects” — either participating or shepherding if other folks wanted in on the fun.

 

Hooray for Sparks!

 

Aila: Doing these mini-reviews of every single Sparks album over the last year (almost) has been a lot of fun. If anything, it’s only reinforced my love for the band, which has already been really strong since the early 90s when I first heard them (they were amongst the first wave of bands I really became obsessed with, I guess you could say).

 

The early Sparks albums were a bit stronger than I remembered them being, although that might be due in part to the fact that I hadn’t listened to them much. Once you listen with an eye to review a record, I think maybe sometimes you hear things you might have missed previously. The first two records are still some of the weakest in the band’s career, but on balance, they still have a lot to offer. The only album Sparks have done that I really “hate” is Interior Design – if anything, doing the review for that one just strengthened my negative opinion of it. It’s just an awful record by any standard (I feel almost guilty for that opinion, but it’s true). There are a couple other weak links, Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat and Big Beat were both fairly underwhelming, although they did have their bright spots. And honestly, the latest one, The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman, didn’t do a whole lot for me either (although it’s probably unfair to judge it on the same criteria as the other albums, since it’s really a musical soundtrack). And then there were a few that I ended up liking a whole lot more than I had previously – like Propaganda and Exotic Creatures Of The Deep. If there’s one review I actually regret, it’s got to be Introducing Sparks – my review of that one was pretty dismissive – shortly after writing it I listened to the album a few more times, and my opinion changed quite a bit. I still wouldn’t rank it as one of the very best Sparks albums, but it’s amazingly good – anyway, what kind of curmudgeon wouldn’t like a lyric like “Joan of Arc just sits and smokes?” Not this one.

 

In the end, The Sparks Project was a lot of fun. Hopefully there will be more Sparks albums to review in the future. Or at least listen to (and almost certainly enjoy). Sparks are one of the most remarkable bands the world has ever produced, and writing about them is easy (although probably a bit repetitive, what with the constant praise and all).. I can heartily recommend re-listening to each and every album, whether you’re planning on writing reviews for them or not.

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