Sparks: Performance Artists or Band?

by Paddy Johnson on March 8, 2014 · 3 comments Blurb

All of my YouTube searches lead back to art or puppies. Last night’s brief break from the fairs lead me to a rediscovery of Sparks, a group formed in Los Angeles by brothers Ron (a straight man often wearing a Hitler mustache on keyboards) and Russell Mael (the sexy lead singer). Even a brief look at their career leaves one with the impression that they’re a performance art group that accidentally got labeled a band. I’ve embedded their 1974 hit “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us,” mostly because it’s my favorite song they’ve made, but it’s by no means their best video. For that I recommend the following quirk: “Lighten Up Morrissey,” an instruction set for Morrissey that features a group of dancing women in red wearing black-and-white Morrissey masks, “Dick Around,” a 2006 cat meme ahead of its time (it’s got only 17k views, presumably because it was made before people made careers out of their cats), and “Tryouts for the Human Race” a 1979 classic where we watch the band turn into werewolves. After watching those, the 1980 video “When I’m With You” where Ron turns his brother into a ventriloquist doll should read particularly well.

One final note on the subject of Canadiana: I suspect anyone who grew up in Canada during the eighties and nineties like me will immediately notice the influence Sparks had on Canadian rock star Gowan. Also of interest: Sparks is collaborating with Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin to produce the film The Seduction of Igmar Bergman. That’s a piece I’ll seek out.



Paddy Johnson March 8, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Correction: Guy Maddin and Sparks have not yet released the film!

GiovanniGF March 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm

They’re brilliant. I highly recommend their SNL appearance:

JosephYoung March 10, 2014 at 9:57 am

the brother does the same Future Island’s guy dance everyone is talking about.

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