17 Songs, 54 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Following Propaganda and Indiscreet, Sparks ended their sojourn in England and returned to their hometown of Los Angeles, where they started to concoct what would become Big Beat. Russell and Ron Mael were intent on recording a more “American-sounding” album—which to them meant less of the opera and classical influences that had permeated their previous albums and more guitar-driven blues-oriented rock. With a minimum of keyboards and the overall fanciness that had been integral to the early Sparks sound, “Big Boy,” “Nothing to Do," and “I Bought the Mississippi River” are swaggering, blustery rock tunes that portray the boys more as lusty alpha males than European dandies. In searching for a new identity, Sparks accidentally presaged the sound of punk with “Fill-Er-Up” and “Throw Her Away (And Get a New One),” both of which have the primitive immediacy and youthful lunacy that would define underground rock in the years to come. While this edition contains a slew of delicious outtakes, the key song is still “Confusion”: an agitated rhumba originally written for a scrapped collaboration with legendary French comedian Jacques Tati.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Following Propaganda and Indiscreet, Sparks ended their sojourn in England and returned to their hometown of Los Angeles, where they started to concoct what would become Big Beat. Russell and Ron Mael were intent on recording a more “American-sounding” album—which to them meant less of the opera and classical influences that had permeated their previous albums and more guitar-driven blues-oriented rock. With a minimum of keyboards and the overall fanciness that had been integral to the early Sparks sound, “Big Boy,” “Nothing to Do," and “I Bought the Mississippi River” are swaggering, blustery rock tunes that portray the boys more as lusty alpha males than European dandies. In searching for a new identity, Sparks accidentally presaged the sound of punk with “Fill-Er-Up” and “Throw Her Away (And Get a New One),” both of which have the primitive immediacy and youthful lunacy that would define underground rock in the years to come. While this edition contains a slew of delicious outtakes, the key song is still “Confusion”: an agitated rhumba originally written for a scrapped collaboration with legendary French comedian Jacques Tati.

TITLE TIME

More By Sparks