REVIEW BY MARTIN TRUKSA
Sparks : Introducing Sparks (Columbia) 1977 :-
Sparks have released 19 different albums over the years, yet so many of the albums are completely unique (particularly the albums from the 1970s and 1990s - the 1980s albums all seem to blend into one). 'Introducing Sparks' has a few distinguishing features that separates it from the other 18 Sparks albums:-
A) For legal reasons, it is the only album so far not to have officially been released on CD (see note below).
B) Back in 1977 it was released in bright red vinyl (limited edition). Ironically there seem to be more red vinyl versions floating around than standard black.
C) This is Sparks most American sounding album ever. In places it sounds like Californian surf music.
D) The album was recorded using exorbitantly expensive session musicians and backing vocalists (Ben Benay, Alan Broadbent, David Foster, Ed Green, David Paich, Mike Porcaro, Reinie Press, Lee Ritenour, Thom Rotella, Tom Bahler, Al Capps, Stan Farber, Jimmy Haas, and Ron Hicklin).
'Introducing Sparks' is a full-on West Coast album. Very professional, very polished, very American. To quote Russell Mael, "A&R people are paid to take what you have and smooth down the rough edges and get rid of any character that may be involved to make it palatable". But what this album lacks in character it makes up for in sheer quality.
In my opinion the fortune spent on hiring top notch session musicians and backing vocalists is money well spent. The guitar work on 'Goofing Off', for example, is electric. The 'Beach Boys' style vocals on 'Over The Summer' are ever so cool. The violins on 'I'm Not' are tantalising. And the sensational drum & guitar solo on 'Those Mysteries' will simply blow you away!
This is BIG BUDGET Sparks. This is UPBEAT, UPTEMPO, FEEL-GOOD Sparks. This is SLICK, SELF-ASSURED Sparks. "If you're a summertime believer ...", then this is the albumfor you!
Note: 'Introducing Sparks' was released for the first time ever on CD in 2007. In 2009 the Japanese record label Imperial Records re-issued the album on 'Super Audio CD' (SACD) with three bonus tracks, 'Breathe' (unreleased demo), 'Fact Or Fiction' (unreleased demo) and 'Those Mysteries' (demo version).
SPARKS : INTRODUCING ... A Big Surprise, Occupation, Ladies, I'm Not, Forever Young, Goofing Off, Girls On The Brain, Over The Summer, Those Mysteries
Introducing Sparks (Home)