The beginner's guide to Sparks (by the band and Edgar Wright)
Baby Driver's rock doc about the duo is now out in cinemas.
The band Sparks will likely be gaining a new wave of fans this weekend thanks to Edgar Wright's just-released documentary The Sparks Brothers. But which is the one album a Sparks virgin should buy? You can find out what Wright and sibling band founders Ron and Russell Mael had to say on the subject below (spoiler alert: they understandably think you should buy more than one album).
Ron Mael: I'll start off with an expensive box set. It's hard for me to choose any of my children. So there's a box set that gives a good overview and is a really nice package, which matters nowadays, called New Music For Amnesiacs and that's what I'd recommend as a starter. Then you can go back and pick individual periods.
Russell Mael: I suppose you have to have Kimono My House (1974), just because [of] what it meant for launching the band in a bigger way. So I'll throw that one out, but only under mild protest because you need to have another one to counter it. Can I get two?
Ron: I got a box set, so you can take a few albums!
Russell: So Lil' Beethoven (1992) as the counter piece where it's sort of miles apart from Kimono My House, but it's in a certain way a reinvention of the band's take on things.
Edgar Wright: Now Russell has opened it up for me to go right down the middle. Weirdly enough, if you'd have said to me which three albums would you pick, I'd say, well, to show the breadth, Kimono My House [and] Lil' Beethoven, but the phase II album, which is also perfect because it's the first time I heard Sparks, would be No.1 in Heaven (1978). I think with those three albums, and Ron's box set, you've got the real breadth of Sparks there. So that's perfect. So I'm going to say No.1 in Heaven, which is Sparks' kind of move into electronica and indeed I think maybe the invention of electronica. [Laughs] Way ahead of its time.
Ron: The interesting thing about all three of those albums is, all three of them were an attempt by us to reinvent ourselves. Kimono My House was done when we first moved to the UK in the middle of the '70s and in a way tried to become a British band. [On] No. 1 in Heaven we felt we'd gone as far as we could at that time as a traditional rock band and we wanted to move into some other area, and hearing Giorgio Moroder's work, that felt like a natural move for us. With Lil' Beethoven, once again we really felt we were at a place where we wanted to figure out another avenue, and so it was an attempt to kind of work without either rhythm or a band, but to have orchestral instrumentation being the driving force behind the sound.
Wright: That's what we call a good start! [Laughs]
The Sparks Brothers is now in cinemas and a four-disc vinyl set of the film's soundtrack is available to pre-order from Waxwork Records.
Watch the trailer for The Sparks Brothers above.