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A Shower of Sparks

 
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becky sharp



Joined: 01 Dec 2008
Posts: 5895

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:40 am    Post subject: A Shower of Sparks Reply with quote

Seeing these two on Top Of The Pops for the first time was a bit like a Boy George,Buster Bloodvessel moment ...you couldn't quite believe what you were seeing. Shocked Very Happy

Was it really 40 years ago?

In spring 1974, alongside the established kiddie-pop of Mud, Slade and the Wombles, a new act sidled onto Top Of The Pops who generated more playground chatter the following morning than any of the above. Brothers Ron and Russell Mael had formed Sparks three years earlier, but their breakthrough came with the hit song 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us' - three minutes of staccato glam-pop that was over almost as soon as it began, with near-indecipherable lyrics and gunshot sound effects throughout.

Even more intriguing than the song was the brothers' appearance - corkscrew-haired Russell bouncing around the stage singing falsetto, while Ron stood virtually motionless at a piano in the background with a Hitler moustache and pursed lips, his eyes moving from side to side.
No one would even have guessed that they were brothers, but the Maels' chalk-and-cheese stage personae created a visual image which won them many more Top Of The Pops appearances and many more hits.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03xf0g1

Enjoyed this!
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essexlady



Joined: 10 Dec 2006
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Location: Essex

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you listen to Stuart Maconie's programme on Radio 4 about Sparks on Tuesday at 11.30a.m. Becky? I knew almost nothing about them and found it very interesting.
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becky sharp



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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry if I didn't make that clear,essexlady Embarassed ...my post was about that programme you mentioned.. Smile
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ruddlescat



Joined: 16 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sparks were a concept far ahead of their time and a truly underrated band even to this day

Didn't hear the programme but saw them many times live in the 70's and loved them so much to the point that when I used to play keyboards in a covers band at that time we put several Sparks tracks on our set list - we had a female singer so she didn't have any problem hitting Russell's high notes - she used to wear a pretty awful black wig and I used to get lumbered for wearing this truly dreadful stick on black moustache Laughing
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becky sharp



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ruddlescat wrote:
Sparks were a concept far ahead of their time and a truly underrated band even to this day

Didn't hear the programme but saw them many times live in the 70's and loved them so much to the point that when I used to play keyboards in a covers band at that time we put several Sparks tracks on our set list - we had a female singer so she didn't have any problem hitting Russell's high notes - she used to wear a pretty awful black wig and I used to get lumbered for wearing this truly dreadful stick on black moustache Laughing

Shocked
Sounds great fun! Very Happy
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ruddlescat



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was Becky - and quite apart from that it used to be an enjoyable way of supplementing our student grants - no loans in those days - and certainly no massive debts like our unfortunate students have today Sad

At the risk of sounding old before my time 'those were the days' - and before anyone asks - no we didn't use to do Mary Hopkin covers Smile
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Colin



Joined: 26 Sep 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Student grants. Those were indeed the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end.

But they did.
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oldraver



Joined: 18 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I assume your band didn't feature Leaving On A Jet Plane in their repetoire, Rudders... Smile
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oldraver



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I listened to this yesterday. What a great pair the Mael Brothers are. When I heard the snippet from Lil Beethoven, I had to check Amazon...their albums sell for fortunes! I wish I'd gone to one of their gigs a couple of years ago now, when they played a different album live, every night.

I was heavily into early Roxy at the time Sparks came out, so apart from Kimono My House and the singles, I was blissfully ignorant of all the great music they made.

And there used to be a poster called Gigantic Lawrence, on the old R2 boards, who played bass with them, on two or three albums. I've forgotten his real name, but he did play on them.
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ruddlescat



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Certainly not raver Laughing - in actual fact I was quite a semi detached member of the band as most of the covers we played were glam rock guitar based stuff with few keyboards parts - but I did have my moments with tracks like 'Son Of My Father' and 'Fox On The Run' where they used to let me loose on a highly prized - and probably highly priced - synthesiser - luckily I never managed to break it Shocked

The Sparks stuff obviously involved a great deal of keyboards and I recall our lead singer almost always choose tracks which were extremely difficult - things like Amateur Hour and Something For The Girl With Everything where the sheer tempo made me struggle considerably - I had to practise for hours where we used to rehearse in a cold disused farm outbuilding just outside Leicester
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oldraver



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can imagine you did have to put in a fair bit of practice, Rudders. Those Ron Mael keyboard parts are devilish, to my ears.

I never did get the lyrics from Son Of My Father..."mouling I was bouling I was"...and other gobbledegook. I still hear records today from 40/50 years ago and hear the proper lyric for the first time. For instance, I've always thought, in Summertime Blues, that Eddie Cochran's "Dad" said "You can't take the car, cause you didn't work a late.." but heard it a week or so ago and realised it said "You can't take the car, cause you didn't work a lick"

You learn something every day.....
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becky sharp



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oldraver wrote:
For instance, I've always thought, in Summertime Blues, that Eddie Cochran's "Dad" said "You can't take the car, cause you didn't work a late.." but heard it a week or so ago and realised it said "You can't take the car, cause you didn't work a lick"


Up until reading your post,Raver, I thought exactly the same ...now I'm wondering what does 'work a lick' mean?
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ruddlescat



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That reminds me of a thing I used to do to entertain punters when I presented live music gigs a few years ago - I still do present gigs but have pretty much exhausted the particular feature in question

I did a thing called the 'Twisted Lyrics' slot where I used to invite members of the audience to interpret some dodgy lyrics in certain specified tracks

Regular tracks involved were things like 'Secret Lovers' by Atlantic Starr in which they appear to be singing about peeing on the lawn

Then there was Paul Young's track 'Every Time You Go Away' in which he appears to sing about 'taking a piece of meat with you'

And there's the slightly less well known track by John Fox - former singer with Ultravox - in which he appears to be singing about underpants rather than the real title 'Underpass'

Of course members of the audience always used to go on about the 'Police' track 'So Lonely' telling me that it sounded like 'Sue Lawley' but I always told them they were wrong and the track was actually about a severely understocked fishmonger - come on folks put your brains in gear Laughing

It is quite strange how we all listen to music many times over being under a complete misapprehension over what is actually being sung about Smile
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Schizoidman



Joined: 20 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sole Only, ha ha!

Raver, I always thought it was work a late as well!
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becky sharp



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ruddlescat wrote:


It is quite strange how we all listen to music many times over being under a complete misapprehension over what is actually being sung about Smile


Listening to Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve this morning I thought I'd have a look at the lyrics to determine once and for all what was actually being sung Is it "But I'm here in my mode,I am here in my mode" or more improbably is it "But I'm here in my moat, I am here in my moat" Laughing

I have sung both.

Well it's neither... it's mold!

Looking at the lyrics I found, to my surprise, that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards co-wrote it with Richard Ashcroft.
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oldraver



Joined: 18 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blimey...I gave up on that one years ago, Becky. I always sang "moan"!

Looks like the "work a late" people, are in the majority...

Oh, and what about the well known Creedence one - "There's a bathroom on the right"...or the Shania Twain, where the real lyric is "I can't believe you kiss your car goodnight" ? I'm too much of a gentleman to type the misunderstood one. Razz

...and just for you, Becky.

http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/lick_2
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oldraver



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

becky sharp wrote:
ruddlescat wrote:


It is quite strange how we all listen to music many times over being under a complete misapprehension over what is actually being sung about Smile


Listening to Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve this morning I thought I'd have a look at the lyrics to determine once and for all what was actually being sung Is it "But I'm here in my mode,I am here in my mode" or more improbably is it "But I'm here in my moat, I am here in my moat" Laughing

I have sung both.

Well it's neither... it's mold!

Looking at the lyrics I found, to my surprise, that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards co-wrote it with Richard Ashcroft.


You didn't know that? They made a fortune out of it! Not exactly a co-write, though...

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1101
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Schizoidman



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apparently The Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony was plagiarised from an obscure instrumental version of The Stones' 1965 hit The Last Time. Hence the song writing credits to Jagger/Richard.

However, I remember someone on the old Radio 2 message boards saying that Jagger/Richard did not write 'The Last Time'. One of the comments on the clip above confirms that. The Staples Singers had a gospel song of the same title in 1955 which the Stones ripped off.
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becky sharp



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oldraver wrote:
Blimey...I gave up on that one years ago, Becky. I always sang "moan"!

Looks like the "work a late" people, are in the majority...

Oh, and what about the well known Creedence one - "There's a bathroom on the right"...or the Shania Twain, where the real lyric is "I can't believe you kiss your car goodnight" ? I'm too much of a gentleman to type the misunderstood one. Razz

...and just for you, Becky.

http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/lick_2

Thanks Raver! I looked on-line for it without success ..you were obviously more thorough in the search. Very Happy
"I can't believe you kiss your car goodnight" ????
oldraver wrote:
becky sharp wrote:

Looking at the lyrics I found, to my surprise, that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards co-wrote it with Richard Ashcroft.


You didn't know that? They made a fortune out of it! Not exactly a co-write, though...

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1101

And thanks again! . ..that article said that Allen Klein made the most money from that song because he had the publishing rights to it...sheesh!
Schizoidman wrote:
Apparently The Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony was plagiarised from an obscure instrumental version of The Stones' 1965 hit The Last Time. Hence the song writing credits to Jagger/Richard.

However, I remember someone on the old Radio 2 message boards saying that Jagger/Richard did not write 'The Last Time'. One of the comments on the clip above confirms that. The Staples Singers had a gospel song of the same title in 1955 which the Stones ripped off.

You live and learn. Smile
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oldraver



Joined: 18 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's the song in question...but you won't recognise it as The Last Time. I have that Staple Singers track somewhere. And..I have touched the hand of Mavis Staples!!

The Andrew Oldham Orchestra - The Last Time

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKC5cdGBY04
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becky sharp



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oldraver wrote:
Here's the song in question...but you won't recognise it as The Last Time.

Indeed no!
oldraver wrote:

I have that Staple Singers track somewhere. And..I have touched the hand of Mavis Staples!!

The Andrew Oldham Orchestra - The Last Time

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKC5cdGBY04

There's a claim to fame right there!
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Schizoidman



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, definitely a resemblance between Andrew Oldham's orchestral and The Verve's, but no similarity to The Stones.
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