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Introducing Sparks

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Album Review

By calling this 1977 release Introducing Sparks, the Mael siblings were being ironic — this was their seventh album, and they were famous in England even though they only had a small following in their own country. The second of two albums that Sparks recorded for Columbia, Introducing Sparks gained a reputation for being its least essential album of the 1970s. To be sure, this LP isn't in a class with either Big Beat (Sparks' previous Columbia release) or Island gems such as Propaganda and Kimono My House. But it isn't a bad album either — uneven and imperfect, yes, but generally decent. Some of the album's more memorable songs range from the opener "A Big Surprise" and the Beach Boys-minded "Over the Summer" (a '60s-like ode to summer love) to the Greek-influenced "Goofing Off." On the hilarious "Occupation," Sparks outlines various career options and has fun lampooning all of them — for example, Russell Mael says of athletes: "We athletes run around and round/We moan and groan and hit the ground/And when we get to 35/We sell cosmetics and survive." Although not recommended to casual listeners, Introducing Sparks has more plusses than minuses and is worth hearing if you're a hardcore Sparks aficionado.


Formed: 1970 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Sparks is the vehicle for the skewed pop smarts and wise-guy wordplay of brothers Ron and Russell Mael, Los Angeles natives who spent their childhood modeling young men's apparel for mail-order catalogs. While attending UCLA in 1970, the Maels formed their first group, Halfnelson, which featured songwriter Ron on keyboards and Russell as lead vocalist; the band was rounded out by another pair of brothers, guitarist Earle and bassist Jim Mankey, and drummer Harley Feinstein. Halfnelson soon came...
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Introducing Sparks, Sparks
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