Article: Alex Kapranos' Baker's Dozen

The Quietus (August 19, 2013)

Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Albums: Alex Kapranos' Baker's Dozen

Sparks - Kimono My House

It was difficult to choose a Sparks record. I think Sparks are unique. Even though they’ve progressed through the early seventies ‘Visconti sound’ – it’s not glam rock, it’s something else. It’s of its time because it influenced so much of what came after it. I don’t think it was really like anything before it, but then they progressed and switched to Giorgio Moroder and those early 80s records like Angst In My Pants, and then they went Eurodisco in the nineties too.

One of my favourite Sparks songs is 'When Do I Get To Sing "My Way"'. That captures again that melancholy, it’s such a wonderful, wonderful song but wry with a sense of humour too. Lyrically I think it’s an incredible record because it was at odds with what was going around at the time. You had John Lennon doing the confessional ballad songwriting about 'this is the emotion I feel' and it’s very bare. And then you have the preposterous fantasy of prog rock. Whereas to me they approached lyrics more from the perspective of writing a film script or someone writing a novel, or even more from the Cole Porter type of lyric writing. It was based around characters and there’s extremes of emotion, like the song 'Equator' which ends the record. It’s about arranging to meet someone on a particular place on the equator at a particular time and it sets up this romantic premise, and the character gets there but the other lover isn’t waiting for him. You have this heartbreak and even though Russell is singing it in the first person, it seems to be written from a third person perspective. You have these characters created by Ron for Russell to articulate, in the way a scriptwriter would write to bring a character to life. It’s one of those records I literally wore the groove out to. Ron’s arrangements too, how he got a rock band into play how an orchestra would, but not in a pretentious way at all. The melodies are really direct and cool. It’s a real joy to listen to.

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Location Tokyo, Japan
Sparks, Ron Mael and Russell Mael fan site.