The History of Sparks

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Until Rhino released 1991's two-CD set Profile: The Ultimate Sparks Collection, there was no such thing as a definitve Sparks anthology -- the 1981 European import The History of Sparks can hardly be called definitive. In all fairness, it's hard to assemble a definitive anthology when a band has done as much label-hopping as Sparks -- by 1981, they had recorded for Bearsville, Island, Columbia, Elektra, and RCA (and would record for Atlantic and MCA by the end of the '80s). But while this LP, which spans from 1971-1981, isn't definitive, it paints a generally attractive picture of Sparks. No, it doesn't contain "Something for the Girl With Everything," "Big Boy," "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us," or "Achoo" -- or "Don't Leave Me Alone With Her," "Amateur Hour," "Get in the Swing," or "At Home, at Work, at Play." It does include three Giorgio Moroder-produced Euro-disco/synth-pop tunes from 1979's No. 1 in Heaven ("Beat the Clock," "Tryouts for the Human Race," and "The Number One Song in Heaven"), two irresistibly goofy power pop gems from 1981's Whomp That Sucker ("Funny Face" and "Tips for Teens"), and three enjoyable Euro-pop items that Moroder and Harold Faltermeier produced for 1980's European release Terminal Jive ("Rock 'N' Roll People in a Disco World," "Young Girls," "Just Because You Love Me," and the French mega-hit "When I'm With You"). While Terminal Jive was a big seller in England and France, it never even came out in the U.S. Meanwhile, The History of Sparks takes us back to the Mael brothers' early pre-Island output of 1971-1972 with "Girl From Germany," "(No More) Mr. Nice Guys," and "Wonder Girl." Again, The History Of Sparks isn't definitive, but it's not a bad collection either.