Monday, May 26, 2014

kimono my house

Sparks regrouped to record the theatrical glam of this buoyantly bizarre baroque bubblegum breakthrough.  Brothers Ron and Russell Mael formed the group with Harley Feinstein and brothers James and Earle Mankey in  Los Angeles as Halfnelson.  They were signed to Bearsville Records to record their eponymous debut with producer Todd Rundgren.  They soon changed their name to Sparks and moved to Colombia to record their second album 'A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing' with singer from The Electric Prunes Thaddeus James Lowe.  After a successful tour of the UK, (including an appearance on 'The Old Grey Whistle Test') the Maels decided to stay there and put out an advertisement for new band members, leading to the recruitment of Martin Gordon on bass, Adrian Fisher on guitar, and Dinky Diamond on drums.  They signed a deal with Island Records and recorded 'Kimono My House' with producer Muff Winwood.  The album became a sensation in England as part of the glam craze with the the Mael brothers different stage personas gave the group their own dynamic:  Russell's falsetto and flamboyance contrasting with Ron's laid back cool on keyboards.  

Ron says:  "It comes naturally. It’s accentuated when we go on stage but I don’t think either of us could really switch roles for very long. Because it’s pretty much how we are, but maybe exaggerated. When we first started I tried to fit in with everybody else in the band, jumping around, but it didn’t sit right. So I just kind of went more stoic and it attracted attention in this weird way where I was getting as much attention as those who were flailing about on stage, so I thought, 'well, why not?'   But we didn’t have a band meeting to decide which individual personas we were going to be. It was just natural. Also it doesn’t feel like 'here we go again', every time we go on stage. To be honest, doing the show this way I have to concentrate a little more on actually playing than I would normally do. So there might be less eye contact but that’s kind of the only real difference. I’m not used to having to be so exposed. It’s pretty nerve-wracking in some ways, to be that naked, at least from my end. The singing is always exposed anyway but I kind of fit in with the other instruments so maybe it loses some of that aspect. It’s natural now and it’s not painful."

Russell reflects:  "We like putting ourselves and putting our audience in situations where things are hopefully not fitting in with everything else that’s surrounding it. To fit in seems like it’s the absolute kiss of death to us. That’s what’s going on now, is everybody fitting in nicely, you know? And it makes for a homogenous sort of predictability and a blandness to things.  When something does pop out and goes against the grain, I think it’s an asset. It’s a positive thing. And sure, you’ll have people that maybe won’t understand it because it’s not fitting in with what’s expected of a festival situation, but we win converts to the Sparks cause by doing things that are really special and unique.  Worrying about things like whether or not it fits in with a festival crowd: that’s not the responsibility of the band. We present what we think is interesting, and whoever wants to come for the ride with us, we’re welcoming them with open arms."

'Kimono My House'  charted at number one hundred and one in the US, fifty-eight in Canada, ten in the Netherlands, and number four in the UK, where it went gold.

'This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us' went to number twelve in Germany, seven in Switzerland, four in the Netherlands, and number two in the UK.  

Zoo time is she and you time
The mammals are your favourite type, and you want her tonight
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
You hear the thunder of stampeding rhinos, elephants and tacky tigers
This town ain't big enough for the both of us
And it ain't me who's gonna leave

Flying, domestic flying
And when the stewardess is near do not show any fear
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
You are a khaki-coloured bombadier, it's Hiroshima that you're nearing
This town ain't big enough for both of us
And it ain't me who's gonna leave

Daily, except for Sunday
You dawdle in to the cafe where you meet her each day
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
As 20 cannibals have hold of you, they need their protein just like you do
This town ain't big enough for the both of us
And it ain't me who's gonna leave

Shower, another shower
You got to look your best for her, and be clean everywhere
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
The rain is pouring on the foreign town, the bullets cannot cut you down
This town ain't big enough for the both of us
And it ain't me who's gonna leave

Census, the latest census
There'll be more girls who live in town though not enough to go round
Heartbeat, increasing heartbeat
You know that this town isn't big enough, not big enough for both of us
This town isn't big enough, not big enough for both of us
I ain't gonna leave!

'Amateur Hour' hit nineteen in Ireland, twelve in Germany, seven in the UK, and six in the Netherlands.  

'Kimono My House' 

full album: 

All tracks written by Ron Mael, except where noted.

Side one

1. "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us"   3:05
2. "Amateur Hour"   3:37
3. "Falling In Love With Myself Again"   3:03
4. "Here In Heaven"   2:48
5. "Thank God It's Not Christmas"   5:07
Side two
6. "Hasta Ma├▒ana, Monsieur"  (Russell Mael, Ron Mael) 3:52
7. "Talent Is An Asset"   3:21
8. "Complaints"   2:50
9. "In My Family"     (Russell Mael, Ron Mael) 3:48
10. "Equator"   4:42

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