Thursday, November 5, 2009

Introducing Sparks (1977)

This was sort of infamous for, until recently, being the one Sparks record never released on CD. It takes a lot of flack for sounding pretty mainstream (although really, it ain't that different from Big Beat)--it was recorded with expensive session musicians to try to break in to the US market. This does not appear to have worked even slightly, and honestly, it is a little lackluster--but with triumphant exceptions!

Two words: "Goofing Off." It's an exhilarating song, sounding like some sort of Eastern European folk dance, all about the pleasures of the title activity. It's baffling that it wasn't released as a single, since it's so obviously the album's highlight. Also notable is the Beach Boys pastiche "Over the Summer;" it doesn't do anything super-revolutionary with the concept, but what it does it does damned well, and you can't not like it. Finally, there's "Those Mysteries," a sort of operatic thing with a kid asking kid-type questions (Why is there time? And why is there space? Why is there France? And why is there Spain?). It's good. The rest of the album? Eh. Not awful, but nothing that spectacular. Certainly not one for the record books, unless there's some sort of record for middling albums.

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