ARTIST: Sparks (Halfnelson)
TITLE: Sparks (Halfnelson)
YEAR RELEASED: 1971
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Wonder Girl (#112)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only fans.
LINEUP: Russ Mael, Ron Mael, Earle Mankey, Jim Mankey, Harley Feinstein
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Odd, before their time band release an odd, before their time debut record to crickets (except for Alabama, where “Wonder Girl” hit, for some reason.)
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Mael brothers formed this band in the late 60’s, and they weren’t content to make either the psychedelic bubble gum music or the acid-rock. They just went to their gut and wrote a bunch of songs that were odd and strange, probably influenced by Syd Barrett and Frank Zappa more than anything.
Todd Rundgren loved them, and produced their debut after convincing his record label to sign them. What they delivered was a mix of several styles and genres, some which sound like late 70’s new wave, some that sound like hard rock of the mid-70’s and some that are just weird. Russ Mael’s high pitched vocals, reaching into falsetto more often than not, is the one element that’s pretty consistent track to track. It is an inconsistent record, with some tracks just head scratchingly odd and others for fans only. Some of the songs are endearing, though.
Originally they were named Halfnelson and the band changed it to Sparks after their record company thought it would be like “The Marx Brothers” or something. A year after the debut is when they made the change, and the record company duly rolled out the album again and named it Sparks.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original cover is from an old automobile ad that they had in their rehearsal space, and they just added the band around the windows.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: C+ I really like a couple tracks, but I exiled some and I really do believe you have to be a serious Sparks fan to really enjoy this