Best music news in years

From the official Sparks website:

Presenting: F F S

FFS: Franz Ferdinand and Sparks Team Up !

10 years after the initial seed was planted by these two iconic bands to join forces in a bold, new creative endeavour, the fruits of this seemingly unlikely musical idea have finally been born. FFS. Franz Ferdinand and Sparks.

The mutual admiration society between Alex Kapranos, Nick McCarthy, Bob Hardy, Paul Thomson, Ron Mael and Russell Mael has manifested itself in a striking new album. And without further ado, FFS is upping the ante with the announcement that they will be performing live. FFS: Franz Ferdinand and Sparks together in concert. It’s true.

Check out the teaser trailer here: FFS – The Domino Effect

Ironically, the world tour kicks off in Glasgow. I’ll miss that, but I won’t miss out on the album, for sure.

Sparks’ histrionic humbug

Sparks in London, November 1972; Ron Mael, Jim Mankey, Harley Feinstein, Russell Mael, Earle Mankey

Sparks in London, November 1972; Ron Mael, Jim Mankey, Harley Feinstein, Russell Mael, Earle Mankey. Source: Wikimedia

From the comments below this slightly up itself Guardian review of a Sparks plus orchestra concert, we have this

If a kid today should ask you ‘what does originality in pop music sound like?’ you could always point them to Sparks. Marvellously witty and tuneful and always entertaining, yet sounding unlike any band before them. ‘Kimono my house’ should be up there in any classic album list.

I could not agree more with the commenter. Sparks are my heroes. I hope the concert recording makes it to a commercial release. It sounds, er, different:

If the orchestra enhances the glam pomp of This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of Us, it turns the rest of the record into cinematic set pieces. Here in Heaven reeks of international espionage, Talent Is an Asset becomes an Oktoberfest oom-pah, and Falling in Love With Myself Again could be Julie Andrews at her most narcissistic. And if Thank God It’s Not Christmas was once a rock anthem of histrionic humbug, it’s now a lost theme to The Muppet Christmas Carol, sleighbells, symphonic snowfall and all.

Great turning points in musical history

The current issue (June 2013) of Q magazine, has an interview with my heroes, Sparks. It includes the following snippet of modern musical history:

Question: Is it true that in 1974 you approached Brian May to be your touring guitarist?

Russell Mael: It’s absolutely true. We met with him and it was a period where I assume he wasn’t sure where Queen was headed. I remember something about their American tour having not lived up to their expectations. We met with Brian and proposed he join Sparks and for a short spell it was being bandied about. But he obviously decided to stick with Queen.

Wow. What could have been? What would have been?


I fell in love with the music of Sparks (Ron and Russell Mael) the minute I saw and heard them on the legendary BBC show Top of the Pops in 1974, performing This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us. Almost 40 years later, I still love their music and regularly listen to it. Why? Continue reading