Allegedly John Lennon once said that avant-garde was French for shit. Well maybe in some cases that might be true, although not in a Gallic linguistic way of course. I know of many exceptions, notably Sparks, I remember speaking to my cousin about them many years ago and she said they are a bit avant-garde, but she meant in the true sense of the phrase. Avant-garde describes “experimental or innovative art or design, or the group of people who make them and push the envelope in their field” and for me that sums up what Sparks are and have always been, true avant-garde and definitely not shit! Sparks, for me, are the kind of musicians that kind of disappear for a while and then when they make a return it is always worth checking out what they are doing. It is now 47 years since their first major hit, “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”. Since their first in 1971 they have released 26 albums, and apart from, perhaps, 1997’s ‘Plagiarism’ there have been no duds and some absolute crackers. “Kimono My House’ (1974), ‘No. 1 in Heaven’ (1979) and ‘Lil’ Beethoven’ (2002) are my favourites, what are yours.
An act who have been around as long as Ron and Russell Mael deserve further exploration and investigation and Director Edgar Wright’s wonderful new documentary film does exactly that. I saw it at the cinema recently and I was totally captivated for the full 140 minutes. Along with some great historical TV and live concert footage what I really love about it is the ongoing interviewing and narration from the brothers Mael. On top of that there are great insights from fans from Steve Jones to Franz Ferdinand via Duran Duran and many more. I will go so far as to say this is one of the best music documentaries I have ever seen and I think most music fans will enjoy even if they don’t consider themselves Sparks fans. It is a really refreshingly honest film, at times brutally so which shows Ron and Russell as outstanding human beings and obviously magnificent and massive musical talents. Of all the “out there” and envelope pushing duos such as Soft Cell and the Pet Shop Boys, let’s be honest without Sparks they probably wouldn’t have happened in such a huge way! Get yourself to your local cinema and check this film out, you will not be disappointed!
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