“Kimono My House” by Sparks - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1974Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die external-link.png

TJR says

“Kimono My House”? Groan. I guess with the bona-fide front-cover Geisha randoms – who were plucked by chance from the confines of a touring Japanese dance company – they just about get away with it. The skinny-flints creating these sparks (hee-hee, two can play at their game) were Ron Mael (28) chief-songwriter and keyboardist, famously inanimate with an Adolf Hitler moustache, and his younger brother Russell Mael (25) a hyperactive showman and expressive singer who spends a great deal of the time in dramatic falsetto. The two broke-up their American band as they looked to progress their vision – this LP was wholly conceived, recorded and presented in an English environment, with new English musicians, and was pooling from the glam-well, seemingly a world-famous attraction. On paper, the whole thing could have been a cheese-fest disaster-zone, but the end-results show them to be ten-times cleverer than Sweet and twice-as-cool as Queen. The lyrics are as clever as they are funny, the music’s smart, and the hooks catchy.

The new Sparks were presented as a quintet on the lead single, “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us”, which was launched upon an unsuspecting British public in April, 1974. A pseudo-camp, but slightly edgy, spaghetti-western drama was just what we’ve been waiting for said they, and the single shot to No.2 in the hit parade. Sparks were immediately in vogue – highly successful and hip, a nice artistic combo if you can get it. The stomping “Amateur Hour” is next up; this was the follow-up single to “This Town” and kept the chart momentum going – a summertime UK Top 10 pop-pickers. Alright? Not arf! Sigh, if only all pop hits could be this gutsy and vital. Improbably, the bar is raised again on the third track, “Falling In Love With Myself Again”, a wonky selfish-sod waltz with the immortal lines: “I bring home the bacon and eat it myself, Here's to my health, Hope that I am feeling well”. Another fave on side 2 is “Talent Is An Asset”, a xylophone-led rock n roll paen-to-Einstein with great lyrics such as “Talent is relative, that's hypothetical, we are his relatives, that's parenthetical, spare your superlatives, there's the receptacle” and a highly catchy 50 seconds ending where Russell repeats a high-end refrain over and over, leaving an irresistible melody floating around your head for at least, well, a minute or two anyway. “Equator” leaves the album on a wonderful high octavely and spiritually; Russell is boiling-mad that his girlfriend has failed to show up on the Equator where he had arranged to meet her. Don’t you just hate when that happens? It’s high-time these burning issues were being properly addressed. Well played Sparks.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:05] 7.2.png Sparks - This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us (Ron Mael) New Wave
A2 [03:37] 7.6.png Sparks - Amateur Hour (Ron Mael) New Wave
A3 [03:03] 8.2.png Sparks - Falling In Love With Myself Again (Ron Mael) Cerebral Pop
A4 [02:48] 6.0.png Sparks - Here In Heaven (Ron Mael) Cerebral Pop
A5 [05:07] 5.8.png Sparks - Thank God It’s Not Christmas (Ron Mael) Cerebral Pop
B1 [03:52] 5.5.png Sparks - Hasta Mañana, Monsieur (Ron Mael, Russell Mael) Cerebral Pop
B2 [03:21] 6.9.png Sparks - Talent Is An Asset (Ron Mael) Pop
B3 [02:50] 5.9.png Sparks - Complaints (Ron Mael) Pop
B4 [03:48] 6.2.png Sparks - In My Family (Ron Mael, Russell Mael) New Wave
B5 [04:42] 7.7.png Sparks - Equator (Ron Mael) Cerebral Pop

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