Kimono My House, Propaganda and demos
Probably the best of the demos here. An intriguing tease of what might have been. You can imagine some quite dramatic chord action going on around the ‘She don’t do nuthin’ without my approval’ bit.
Another acoustic guitar demo with an organ creeping in. Again, more flesh on the bones could’ve been fun, but probably best left alone.
Just acoustic guitar. Nice harmonies at the ‘tin ear’ bit and a bit of a grower, but not too much to it.
Nearly there, but not quite. Would have been interesting to hear a final version of this, altough there’s not much to the tune to suggest a full blown arrangement could improve it much. Contrary to the lyric, it isn’t ‘busy, busy, busy’ at all.
A little bit oompah, a little bit jerky. An everyday tale of marriage proposal. Or is it? Of course not. ‘What’s the story?’ Well, quite. There’s that desperation creeping in again, as we try to figure out what’s behind this quest for a mate.
The best bit musically is the chuggy guitar behind the ‘They’re scaling the mountains of frozen delights’ section. Appears to be about hard up types with coupons hurriedly getting the bargains before the supermarket closes.
Very literal farewell to Propoganda with what feels like a deliberately overblown dramatic and anthemic flourish. Being left behind as ‘the randomest sampling’ is chosen for the ark is the theme here, although there does seem uncertainty about whether he is sad to remain after these ‘final, futile moves.’
Jaunty drum beat, chanting and swinging guitars – what’s not to like? The sarcasm is strong in this one. Ron seems to have a thing against doting parents and, as if to emphasise the over sickly adoration dumped on offspring, there’s even kids singing on it.
Distinctly Sparksian keyboard trots through this perky romp extolling the equalising effects of ill health – ‘All winners will be also-rans.’ As well as death and taxes, sneezing affects everyone I suppose.
Yet another classic. Years before punk, it sets the glam punk standard with a breathless pace. That two note piano bit when the music stops and the sharp intake of breath gets me every time. Breathtaking.
Utterly sublime. One of the best songs ever written. It has it all, including a sumptuous piano and gorgeous guitar solo. I never tire of listening to it. As well as being environmentally friendly, it recognises the brutality of Nature.
Excellent chugging guitars and strident piano in this powerhouse of a tune. Sparks records of this period really are timeless, eh? The sound of this never ages. Quite the tirade against some woman who is a ‘De Sade who makes good tea.’
The quasi-religious ‘just keep right on walking’ organ parts give this Stranger Danger ditty a hilarious grandeur. ‘My parents say the world is cruel. I think that they prefer it cruel,’ reasons the youngster.
The speeding up of the tune and thump thump of the Dinky drums on the B.C. bits is great fun as once again that element of panic surrounds the whole torturous explication while ‘rumours spread like tumours.’
The staccato keyboard and sharp drum shots really do reinforce the sheer militaristic power of this one. Another nursery rhyme type melody and foot stompingly catchy.
Strident anthem to a very popular and busy girl. Not for the first time, Russell does an amazing job of cramming in all the words. The way he follows the guitar pattern at the ‘STOP!’ bits is particularly admirable.
Short and very sweet a cappela intro to the album of the same name. Ron having nothing to do with whovever is ‘spewing out her propaganda,’ insisting that he isn’t tempted by her charms and that anyone who is is quite welcome to vie for her fake affections.
Fairly average (by Sparks standards) b-side to Amateur Hour. The way Russell pronounces ‘all’ is quite something, though. I like how the losing of a wallet conjures up images of Robin Hood and pirates.
You suspect that the title came first in this tale of a man who ‘has forsaken his whole tan’ to live in the snow but then been warmed by Barbecutie who he then leaves (or does she leave him?).
Masterpiece. The sense of dwindling expectation is mirrored in the fact that each instrument gradually drops out note by note until only the voice is left, exhausted and pleading.
There’s a sense of desperation in there, not to mention claustrophobia, especially the line, ‘Gonna hang myself from my family tree.’ Love the ooh oohs.
A masterlass in pop inventiveness and bouncy too. The joyful sounds, as always, complimented by the poetry. ‘A sign of shoddy workmanship, of Asiatic hands that slipped’
Talking of genius, this is the absolute gold standard. The appreciation of of young Albert Einstein by his doting relatives (of course! ”That’s parenthetical’). The simplistic childish melody and too too catchy drumbeat efortlessly play around the arch wordplay.
The sweet fade in is dramatically stamped on by a stirring build up of tension between pianos and guitars. Probably the only song in the world to feature the line ‘your leading exports were textiles and iron ore.’
Oh, that descending riff. Rivetting and joyous. The often arduous art of mingling portrayed to a ‘t’ here with a hilarious twist. It might be excrutiating, but at least it isn’t Christmas ‘when there is only you and nothing else to do.’ Ouch.
The marriage of music and lyric is just sublime. The aching guitar parts are stunning as is the playful piano echoing the ‘many, many, years’ melody. It’s astounding how the arch black humour of the storytelling fits into such a perfect pop song.
Very grand, teutonic even, especially the opening. Then it mingles with a playful fairground type waltz as Russell wistfully attempts to amplify his self reliance whilst yearning for lost love. This has a dream like quality which the middle eight section tries to blast through ‘with all that music blaring, blaring!’
A tour de force both musically and lyrically. The growing pains of adolescence have never been captured so eloquently and with such imaginative flair. The magnificent opening line ‘Lawns grow plush in the hinterlands’ sets the pubescent tone.
Well, everyone knows this one, eh? Stone cold classic. Probably my favourite line is ‘…twenty cannibals have hold of you, they need their protein just like you do.’