Saturday, 2 June 2018
Sparks - Kimono My House (1974)
Released May 1974
A strange album from a strange band. As a David Bowie, Roxy Music and Cockney Rebel fan in 1974, it made perfect to get into the music made by these odd American brothers, one of whom looked like David Johansen of The New York Dolls and the other looked like Adolf Hitler. Backed by a band of UK musicians, the Mael brothers delivered a perplexing mix of keyboard and high pitched guitar driven “glam” rock sung in Russel Mael’s quirky falsetto. Ron Mael’s lyrics were bizarre and showed a weird sense of humour.
The first two tracks, the hit singles “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us” and “Amateur Hour” are truly excellent. The next three, “Falling In Love With Myself Again”, “Here In Heaven” and “Thank God It’s Not Christmas”, with its impressive guitar bit in the middle keep the standard relatively high.
Listening to it again, it is an adventurous piece of work. Better than I remembered it, “Hasta Manana Monsieur” starts the old ”side two” on a high. Great wailing guitar and Abba-like keyboards (before Abba, I might add).
“Talent Is An Asset” is dreadful, however. Nice bass line but ludicrous lyrics about “little Albert having talent”. Umm, ok. If you say so. Bizarrely, Steve Jones and Paul Cook later of The Sex Pistols claimed they listened to this album day after day. Toe tapping little ditties like “Complaints” helped to create “Pretty Vacant”. Hard to believe.
“In My Family” is a preposterous few minutes but strangely enjoyable and the closer “Equator” just sort of defies analysis, actually. As do Sparks. One of the oddest groups of the 1970s.
I couldn’t properly get into this in 1974 and I still can’t. Every now and again I give it a chance though. This latest listen I found myself quite liking it, so there you go.