Greetings and Happy Everything! This will be the only November post, but it's jampacked for sure... just make sure that you read all the way through, OK?
Today we're gonna pull one of my classic stealth moves and use the anniversary of a concert to slide you something special, on top of that 60 minutes of mayhem.
For today we mark the 45th birthday of this show to celebrate one of the greatest bands of this or any other lifetime, no lie.
Way more harmonious than Oasis and way more hilarious than the Everly Brothers, these two siblings have been at it a real long time, and form what is firmly one of the tiny handful of groups about whom you could legitimately say that they've gotten better over the course of time.
Not that the music they started making 55 years ago is not astounding, mind you. Their initial song they ever recorded is possibly the first track ever to talk about computers, in fact. Maybe only Bruce Haack preceded them, I dunno.
I've known about them and loved their music since I was 12. Or rather, I discovered them at 12, but for the first few years I thought they were a band made up for the purposes of a silly 1970s disaster movie.
I wonder how many people out there know them from Rollercoaster. They claim to have hated being associated with it and I can see why, but it probably, in the long run, has helped their career. In this year's big documentary about them, one of the celebrity fans of theirs that are interviewed (can't recall which, I'm bad at celebrities) says he too found them through that (admittedly godawful) film.
The movies are an obsessional theme with these guys, and over the decades they've been a part of a few film projects that got scratched just as they were about to happen. Which makes what went on this year for them all the more satisfyingly sweet.
First they had the biggest streaming sensation of 2021, the musical they wrote called "Annette," which blew up Amazon Prime and I think is on Mubi now. It will hit the theaters next year and if you haven't seen it you're truly missing out.
Then the aforementioned Edgar Wright doc hit the theaters and a few streaming services, and the wider world finally got to understand why The Sparks Brothers -- real names: Ron and Russell Mael -- form the nucleus of everyone's favorite band's favorite band.
That band, you must know, is called Sparks, and it's no overstatement to say that they're the sincere equal of everyone you might throw out there, from The Beatles on down through Neil Young, or Prince, or whomever.
How did they avoid wider public recognition for our whole lifetimes? Well, you'll have to watch the documentary for the full story, but in a nutshell if I had to say why I'd simply say because they're too smart and sophisticated for America to get!
Maybe that's why they had to go to England to get anywhere at first. Heck, a lot of people probably still think they're British! I know I did at age 12 anyway.
Now, about that concert. I think this comes from the soundtrack of a black-and-white, semi-pro video that's been around, but it may have also gone out over FM radio. It's a little rough around the edges soundwise, but well worth the while.
01 Nothing to Do
02 I Want to Be Like Everybody Else
03 Something for the Girl With Everything
04 White Women
05 Talent Is an Asset
06 I Bought the Mississippi River
07 Everybody's Stupid
10 This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us
11 Amateur Hour
12 I Like Girls
13 Big Boy
14 Fill 'Er Up
15 Throw Her Away (And Get a New One)
Total time: 1:03:55
Russell Mael - vocals
Ron Mael - keyboards
Jim McAlister - guitar & vocals
Luke Zamperini - guitar & vocals
David Swanson - bass
Hilly Boy Michaels - drums
soundtrack of a semi-pro-shot video
sourced from the bootleg CD "Big Beat Live 1976"; this show may have also been broadcast on FM radio
Track 15 is a bonus track from the same concert, taped from the audience and included for completeness' sake
287 MB FLAC/November 2021 archive link
287 MB FLAC/November 2021 archive link
Now for the main course. I'm not gonna say too much, except that while I've been away one of the main things I've been working on -- really solidly for the last 4 months especially -- has been to do something some folks said couldn't be done.
If you click on this link right here, you'll be taken to a 10 1/2 hour, 8CD, totally lossless collection of (almost) every outtake and non-album track of Sparks, covering their entire career since 1967. There's crazy, vinyl-only remixes, collaborations with other artists, weird cover versions and a whole disc of demos. Some of it's never been released anywhere, but over these last 12 weeks I have put it together to make everyone's Sparksgiving a little more filling.
I hope everyone's holidays shape up to be stellar, and I hope everyone enjoys this show and the bonkers rarities compilation I've snuck in to Easter your Eggs. And what's not to enjoy? Sparks are flying high as ever, so I wanted to finish out their big year with an imaginary boxset, made real through gargantuan effort, that's been a long time coming and which tells their story in a novel and necessary way. Bon appetit, Big Boy!--J.