Exposé Online banner

Sparks — Sparks (AKA Halfnelson)
(Wounded Bird WOU2048, 1971/2006, CD)

Sparks — A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing
(Wounded Bird WOU110, 1972/2006, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2007-03-01

Sparks (AKA Halfnelson) Cover artA Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing Cover artMost probably know Sparks from their later work, but these two are where it all began for this LA based five-piece led by brothers Ron and Russel Mael (keyboards and vocals, respectively). On these earliest records, the band was rounded out by another set of brothers, Earle and Jim Mankey (guitar and bass) and drummer Harley Feinstein. The band had been together a couple years and their witty tongue-in-cheek lyrics and quirky yet highly melodic musical approach quickly caught the ear of Todd Rundgren, who produced their first album. Both of these sport a definite 'British' sound, meaning that they don't sound like something an American band would typically come up with, which may explain why in the 70s they found greater success across the pond than at home. What's particularly interesting is that as one listens to the debut album, and even more so on the second, one hears what seems to be the influence of 10cc circa Sheet Music, or traces of early Queen, yet neither of those bands would release their first albums for at least another year; could Sparks have been a defining influence on the sound of those bands? The debut encompasses a slightly more raw and new-wavey edge on many of the cuts, while Woofer ratchets up the hook-laden artsiness, falsetto vocals and overall off-center quirkiness, although there is no mistaking these are both by the same band. While Sparks' best efforts were still to come in the form of their next two albums (Kimono My House and Propaganda), the strength of the material on these first two albums make them just too good to ignore. Both are recommended.

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 34, 2006 releases, 1971 recordings, 1972 recordings

Related artist(s): Sparks

Latest news

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Rebekka - Phoenix – Phoenix was the first release by the German band Rebekka, whose brand of progressive music featured tablas and tamboura besides the standard guitar, flute, sax, keyboards, bass, and percussion. This...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues