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Lil' Beethoven (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

Forget everything you've heard about Lil' Beethoven, and just play it. For there are not words in the language that can truly capture the sheer joy, wonder, and intrigue of spending an evening in the company of the brothers Mael's second album of the new millennium, and their most intriguingly magnificent since Gratuitous Sax, a full decade earlier. Which makes it ever so slightly disappointing to report that, far from spreading the brilliance ever further across the so-called "Deluxe Edition," Ron 'n' Russell instead contract it somewhat, packing out the original album not with further grand adventures on the furthest horizons of sonic experimentation but with a smattering of oddities that, while nice to look at and lovely to hold, really add nothing to the overall impact of the show. An instrumental version of the nearly a cappella "The Rhythm Thief" is, of course, a joke; so is "The Legend of Lil' Beethoven," a spoken word passage that is seen to better advantage on the Live in Stockholm DVD that came out a few months later. The video for "The Rhythm Thief" itself is a treat, all stark angles and peculiar gestures, but other bonus material is more or less throwaway — or, at least, nothing to get excited about. In other words, if you already own the regular edition, the deluxe will add nothing more that you need to know.


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...
Full bio
Lil' Beethoven (Deluxe Edition), Sparks
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