This is truly marvellous:
Sparks at the height of their powers, with one of my favourite tracks from their best album (in my opinion), Indiscreet.
The shorts! The peculiar hat! The sidewards glances! The moustache! The camp dancing! The lyrics!
Get in the swing, pal Get in the swing With everybody and everything (repeat) My friends are here Mind if you go out and not come back again Well, thanks a lot Hooray, hooray The night is younger than the girl who's got the touch But not by much Well, I ain't no Freud, I'm from L.A. But I know certain things That they also serve who sit and wait They're cheaper than painting And don't need explaining (Chorus) When Salmon spawn A ton of water blocks their motion, Spoils their game But on they go Thrashing 'til their mission is fulfilled or else Oh, but they have their friends And have a warm bed waiting Just like I do with you I'm happy, so happy, I'm happy, oh happy (Chorus) All for one, one for all (Chorus) Hello down there This is your creator with a questionaire Hello up there I don't have the time to fill out questionaires
I will always love Sparks, for one thing in particular: helping me survive a particularly gruelling, embarassing, disappointing weekend. When I was about 15, I went to trials for the Lincolnshire under-16 rugby squad. I remember distinctly that my mum got me some jeans to wear, which were basically flares; I knew I'd be spending the weekend away from home with other boys my age, and was terrified of them seeing me naked, taking the mickey out of my flares, taunting me for other reasons etc. (I was quite shy).
The morning I set off from home, probably with mum, I heard This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us on the radio. The tune was so infectious, the lyrics so baffling and brilliant, that even though I only heard it once, I was repeating the chorus to myself all weekend. It gave me a moment of space to retreat into, a glamorous fantasy moment I could hang on to amid the painful, eyes-down fear of that weekend:
By the way, I didn't make the team (the disappointment because a stud in one of my boots fell out and I got horrendous blisters which hampered my performance on day 2), I spent the weekend feeling embarassed but wasn't taunted, but did sub. a couple of times for the Lincolnshire rugby team.
Once I got home, I discovered my dad had copies of Indiscreet, Propaganda and Kimono My House, all absolute classic albums. I used to surreptitiously borrow the tapes and listen to them on my Walkman, practically all the time. People are put off by the high singing, I think; but I think that's part of the histrionic joy of their work, and once you listen to the lyrics, you realise they are brilliant song-writers with a unique world view. Sparks have been cruelly underrated for years, but recently they've been namechecked by all sorts of music industry luminaries. Glad to say I was there twenty years ago. But it's still rare to find anyone who'll admit to liking them (apart from my friend Adrian). I'm coming out of the closet right now, in the hope this will encourage others to dig out their 70s albums (I have to admit I am not that interested in the albums they released after 1979).