Sparks

The Best of Sparks [Island LP]

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Back when LPs were music's dominant format, there were two easy ways to spot European vinyl: the jackets were often made with a softer cardboard than American LPs, and the shrink-wrap was a lot looser. And because Sparks was much more popular in England than in the U.S., it made sense to be on the lookout for their European releases if you were among their American fans. Some of Sparks' recordings, in fact, never came out in the U.S.--1980's Terminal Jive, for example, was a hit in France and England but was only available as an import in North America. Not to be confused with Island's 1990 CD Mael Intuition: The Best of Sparks or an eight-song budget CD from Curb that was also titled The Best of Sparks, this LP is a 12-song collection that Island put out in England in 1979. Had Island wanted to be more specific, it could have called this LP The Best of Sparks: The Island Years because its focus is Sparks' excellent Island output of 1974-1975. The album doesn't contain any of the work that Sparks did for Bearsville, Columbia, or Elektra in the '70s, so it isn't the last word on Sparks during that decade. But if, in 1979, you wanted an introduction to Sparks' Island work, it was a fine choice. Sparks did some of its best work at Island, and treasures from 1974's Propaganda ("Something for the Girl With Everything," "At Home, at Work, at Play," "Thanks but No Thanks"), 1974's Kimono My House ("This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us," "Amateur Hour," "Thank God It's Not Christmas"), and 1975's Indiscreet ("Get in the Swing," "Looks, Looks, Looks") are nothing to complain about.