With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

The Sparks Brothers – Film August 13, 2021

Filed under: Film,Review — justwilliam1959 @ 7:06 pm
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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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“I’m high on the chart, I’m a tip for the top” March 24, 2015


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Back in the olden days a.k.a when I was somewhat younger than I am now the UK chart rundown show was on a Sunday. This is where it has remained for years. However now that there will be a unified release date for all music (presumably from all the major labels at least) the UK Chart Show on BBC Radio 1 will shortly be moving to the Friday drive time slot; 4pm to 6pm.

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That’s progress I suppose and that also raises the chance that I might listen to it again. I have fond memories of chart shows in the distant past. Sitting next to the radio taping your favourite songs and hoping that the first generation Smashie and Nicey characters didn’t talk over the intro or the fadeout. But one of my favourite things was the official announcement of the new chart on Radio 1 when it was on a Tuesday lunchtime. I always made sure that I had my transistor radio with me so that me and my mates at Bishopshalt School in Hillingdon could find out whether David Cassidy and the Osmonds were still clogging up the UK charts (they were), whether Slade had gone straight in at the top (they had) or whether Bowie would get his first number one single (yes but not until 1975 with a reissue of “Space Oddity“). Johnnie Walker was the bloke who usually read out the new chart on Tuesdays and he has always been one of my favourite broadcasters. He spoke over a chart music bed of the excellent “Time Is Tight” from Booker T and the MGs. Enjoy that tune now along with my favourite song about the charts; Pete Wingfield‘s superb “Eighteen With A Bullet” and a favourite of mine by the magnificent Mael Brothers a.k.a Sparks.

 

“When you turn pro you know she’ll let you know” April 1, 2014

Filed under: Trivia — justwilliam1959 @ 10:43 pm
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queenImagine how different music history might have been if Brian May had left Queen in 1974 just a short while before things really began to take off for them. It might have happened, during 1974 Queen were supporting Sparks in London and Ron Mael took the opportunity to ask Brian to become guitarist for Sparks. I wonder what direction each band would have taken had Mr May said yes? What do you think?

 

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