Sparks


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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The Sparks were among the founders of glam-rock. They were formed by brothers Ron and Russell Mael in Los Angeles in 1971. Initially the band was called Halfnelson. Unlike their British counter-parts, whose emphasis was on eccentric and outrageous behavior, the Sparks focused on eccentric and outrageous musical style. Halfnelson (Bearsville, 1971), reissued as Sparks (Bearsville, 1972 - Wounded Bird, 2006), is more influenced by Todd Rundgren (Wonder Girl) and early Brian Eno than by Marc Bolan or David Bowie. Sparks' music is a futuristic music-hall that borrows from pop, soul, hard-rock and progressive-rock. Their dadaistic sense of humour reached maturity on A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing (Bearsville, 1972 - Wounded Bird, 2006) Russell's ghastly falsetto, the trivial melodies and the grotesque arrangements gave it the air of a rock opera in disguise.
The brothers relocated to London and reformed Sparks with a new line-up. Kimono My House (Island, 1974) borrows elements from hard-rock and techno-rock, but, mostly, focuses on the melodies (and one is truly memorable, This Town Ain't Big Enough), as does Propaganda (1975), that contains Something For The Girls With Everything.

The line-up kept changing on Indiscreet (1975), Big Beat (Columbia, 1976), which boasts a heavier guitar sound, Introducing (1977).

Disco-music guru Giorgio Moroder gave them a second life with Nunber One Song In Heaven and Beat The Clock, both from N. 1 In Heaven (Elektra, 1979). When I'm With You, from Terminal Jive (Durium, 1980), closed the disco chapter.

Sparks returned to hard-rock and pop (with a touch of synth-pop) on Angst In My Pants (Atlantic, 1982), that contains Eaten By The Monster Of Love. The influence of Blondie and Cars permeates the disco-rock of Sparks In Outer Space (Atlantic, 1983), with Cool Places, and Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat (Atlantic, 1984). Music That You Can Dance To (MCA, 1986) adopts the production style of synth-pop. Interior Design (Logic, 1988) marked the end of this derivative phase.

Profile (Rhino, 1991) is a career retrospective.

After a six-year hiatus, Sparks released The Gratuitous Sax And Senseless Violins (BMG, 1994), that contains mildly entertaining dance-pop ditties such as When Do I Get To Sing, and is probably the best work in a decade.

Another six-year interval followed. Then Balls (Oglio, 2000), a rather mediocre album, surfaced.

Sparks reinvented themselves with Lil' Beethoven (2003), a semi-classical album whose songs maintained the old sense of humor while adding an edgy and even cartoonish element (notably the seven-minute Ugly Guys With Beautiful Girls). Hello Young Lovers (2006) built on those operatic and bombastic foundations while reaching back to Sparks' original ditty-oriented cabaret (Waterproof).

Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (2008) offered a more austere version of their sound.

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Gli Sparks sono il progetto di due fratelli di Los Angeles, Ron e Russell Mael, i quali, suggestionati dall'art-rock e dal glitter-rock inglesi, confezionarono un music-hall nevrotico e futurista. Il falsetto agghiacciante di Russell, le melodie corrive e un senso dello humour dadaista fecero di Sparks (1971) e A Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing (1972) due pietre miliardi del glam-rock. Trasferitisi a Londra, perfezionarono il sound rendendolo piu` aggressivo (con chitarre da hard-rock e l'organo da flash-rock di Ron) e ancor piu` melodico (This Town Ain't Big Enough, 1974, Something For The Girls With Everything, 1974). Sfruttato fino in fondo il filone e tornati in America, annasparono in cerca di una nuova identita` finche' Giorgio Moroder li trasformo` in una classica catena di montaggio per hit di disco-music (N. 1 In Heaven, 1979, When I'm With You, 1980).

Gli Sparks furono il trait d'union fra l'estinta civilta` dei freak e la nascente civilta` della discoteca, entrambe facce diverse del decadentismo rock.

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