Disco Sunday #6: Sparks’ Moroder Phase

29 08 2007


My man Disaster from Missingtoof knows *everything* about our disco planet, so I was shocked, SHOCKED to learn that he hadn’t heard of Ron and Russel Mael, aka Sparks. So this post is for him!

The bros. Mael formed their first band, Halfnelson, in 1968, and were discovered by Todd Rundgren. Their first record, produced by Rundgren, did poorly, but after renaming themselves Sparks (as a nod to the Marx brothers), tweaking their sound and touring the UK they began to blow up in the burgeoning glam scene. After placing an ad in Melody Maker which read: “Wanted bass player for Sparks. Must be beard free and exciting”, the band released the album “Kimono My House.” The album spawned their first big UK single, “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”, and has been covered by bands like Siouxsie and The Banshees as well as The Darkness. It’s not terribly disco but it’s definitely bizarro, and worth a listen to help get yer musical edumacation straight:

MP3: Sparks – “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”

America continued to ignore Sparks, while their popularity in the UK continued to grow. This was in no small part based on their appearance on shows like “Old Grey Whistle Test”, in which viewers learned that the band’s bizarro pop melodies were being made by this guy:


Ron plays it totally stone faced, cold and creepy, in sharp contrast to the bouncy hooks and Freddy-esque falsettos of vocalist Russell. And then there’s the Chaplin…ok, fine: Hitler mustache (I’m pretty sure they’re Jewish, so it’s, you know, OK). The overall effect is fantastically off-putting, in that “are they kidding? Of course they are! I think!” kinda way. And it makes for pretty compelling TV, as you can see in this clip from Top of The Pops for their song “The Number One Song in Heaven” from their 1979 album of that name produced by Giorgio Moroder:

MP3: Sparks – “The Number One Song in Heaven”

Here’s a second song from that same Moroder-produced album, which is my favorite and certainly the most relevant to Disco Sunday. The track is called “Beat the Clock”, and is probably their most enduring dancefloor track. I even saw it on a Sasha comp around ’99 (so sue me, I have a Sasha comp!)

MP3: Sparks – “Beat The Clock (Remix)”


Sparks finally made a splash in the U.S. in 1983 with a new, uber-synthpoppy sound. Their album “Sparks in Outer Space” featured a hit single, “Cool Places”, that featuring the Go-Gos’ Jane Wiedlin on vocals. The whole album is infectious, in a simplistic, minimal kinda way, with the as-always-characteristic sardonic lyrics. I love this track for many things, not the least of which is the line “Think of all the places/we’ve had our little fun/In the church at Christmas/Busted by that nun.”

MP3: Sparks – “All You Ever Think About is Sex”

Baron von Luxxury

MP3: Sparks – “The Number One Song in Heaven”
MP3: Sparks – “Beat The Clock (Remix)”
MP3: Sparks – “All You Ever Think About is Sex”
MP3: Sparks – “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”

Buy Sparks on Amazon
Sparks Webby Web
Sparks Fan Site


P.S. Rumor has it that Disaster is taking his DJ gear outta the closet and back from R. Kelly for a big gig in SF on Friday…check Missingtoof dot commmm for deets!




8 responses

29 08 2007

Downloadin’ as we speak! thanks for the shouts also! 😀

29 08 2007
Baron von Luxxury

yer welkies!

30 08 2007

“Angst In My Pants”, from the album of the same name, was on the “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” soundtrack. There’s a melancholy streak in there with the chuckles, which makes both more intense.

It’s one of my favorites, as is “Funny Face” about a guy so good-looking he wishes he wasn’t, with surprising results. This track takes on added weight when you realize the brothers Mael were themselves child models.

And don’t forget “I Predict”, a more-than-novelty synth-rocker featuring these Nostradamus-beating prophecies:
“You’re gonna take a walk in the rain and you’re gonna get wet…
You’re gonna eat a bowl of chow main and be hungry real soon…”
…followed by the more disturbing…

“They’re gonna stop Saturday night so you better have fun now…
They’re gonna stop having the Sun so you better get tan now…”

Their recent albums (they’re still cranking ’em out) haven’t captivated me nearly so much.

9 12 2007
Disco Workout

[…] Kano #11: Steely Dan #10: Public Image Limited #9: Belle Epoque #8: Cerrone #7: Robots in Disguise #6: Sparks #5: Baron von Luxxury #4: Sugar and Gold #3: Simian Mobile Disco #2: Italians Do It Better […]

22 12 2007
Disco Workout

[…] that is Goth, the awesomeness of Moroder’s “The Chase” and his work with Sparks, and […]

8 02 2012
Shaquita Breger

When someone writes an post he/she maintains the idea of a user in his/her brain that how a user can be aware of it. Therefore that’s why this post is outstdanding. Thanks!

27 04 2012
Happy Birthday Giorgio!

[…] Besides his famed collaboration with Donna Summer and seminal soundtrack work, Moroder also wrote and produced with Blondie, David Bowie, and two fantastic and groundbreaking albums with Sparks. […]

27 12 2014

Very good Webpage, Preserve the wonderful job. Thank you.

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