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Monday, May 22, 2017

Sparks - "The Rest of Sparks" (Sparks The Island Years) LP, Vinyl, Album, 2015 (Island Records)


For the first fifteen minutes or so at the record store I thought I was carrying around "The Best of Sparks" - but alas, I was wrong.  It's the same cover as "The Best Of..."  but it's actually "The Rest of Sparks."   This album is part of the vinyl box set "Sparks The Island Years."    Someone at the store separated the albums within the box, and here I'm with this new purchase of an essential Sparks' vinyl album.   "The Rest of Sparks"  is a collection of all the b-sides during their years at Island Records.  Like the A-Sides and albums, they never put out a bad recording.   So, for the first time, you have Sparks classics like "Barbecutie," "Lost and Found," and the totally absurd "The Wedding of Jacqueline Kennedy to Russell Mael."   From 1974 to 1976, Sparks couldn't fail.  Well, to this day, they never failed.  But for many, the Island Records era for this band was like catching lightning in a glass jar. 

I have always had a fond taste for b-sides. My favorite habit (of many) is when I get a 45 rpm single, to play the B-side first.   For many, it's usually a throw-away song to make one focus on the A-side, but alas, I would argue that the masterpieces are usually on the flip side.   "The Rest of Sparks" is one of my favorite Sparks' albums.  If there is a weak cut, it's probably "I Want To Hold Your Hand," which is oddly enough my least favorite Beatles song.  Still, "Lost and Found,"England," and others here are essential Sparks' recordings.  To have these songs on one piece of vinyl is something that makes me extremely happy.   

One of the rare cuts here is "Tearing The Place Apart," which is brilliant songcraft writing.  One would think that Cole Porter or Noel Coward wrote the song, but alas, Ron Mael is one of the great songwriters of not only his generation but in the history of the American Song Book.   Which I know from me sounds like over-loving a songwriter's work, but he's clearly on the same genius mode as Porter.  

A1Lost And Found
A2Barbecutie
A3Alambamy Right
A4Marry Me
A5Profile
A6The Wedding of Jacqueline Kennedy to Russell Mael
B1I Want To Hold Your Hand
B2England
B3Gone With The Wind
B4Intrusion/Confusion
B5Looks Aren't Everything
B6Tearing The Place Apart