Saturday, September 15, 2018

Sparks are Gonna Fly

Everyone's got one. We all have our favorite great underrated band we love to ramble on about, fuming over the injustice of their omission, angered at their absence from the grand narrative of rock history, outraged at their exclusion from the hall of fame. I’m inclined to choose The Tubes or Nick Drake, yet Sparks, surely, are the ultimate. Oh, the Mael brothers had their moment. One huge hit, a couple of follow-ups, and - thanks to Russell’s pretty-boy looks, if not Ron's unsettling Victorian serial killer demeanor - the fickle fluttering hearts of the Jackie generation (including a young Steven Morrissey, who famously stalked the brothers to the extent of collecting uneaten toast from their hotel breakfast plates). Which is why, to the masses, Sparks - if the name triggers any recognition whatsoever - will always be the band who sang "This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us." 

Those who are a little more in-the-know, however, will be aware that in the early 1970s, Sparks were neck and neck with Roxy as art-glam pioneers, and right up there with Queen for rock operatics. What few people other than hardcore adherents of Sparxism recognize, though, is that over the last four decades, Ron and Russell Mael have been superior even to Bowie in terms of long-term consistency. Their current record-breaking London residency, the 21-date Sparks Spectacular (in which they play every album from their career, one per night), is presumably intended to go some way towards redressing that injustice. It seems to be working. Suddenly - while they still remain underrated in relation to the true level of their genius - the Mael brothers are right back on the agenda.