Sparks - s/t LP
Newly reissued, the debut album by Sparks sounds as unique now as it must have 45 years ago. Produced by Todd Rundgren for his Bearsville Record label imprint, this must be one of the strangest debut records of 1971. Apart from early Alice Cooper, we can't quite think of a record or band so out of left-field as this (check out Ron Mael on the cover looking like early Prince with a Hitler 'stache). While the dominant sound coming out of LA at the time was either mellow singer-songwriters or country inflected roots rock, Sparks arrived on the scene with art-y bombast, campy falsetto vocals and strange time changes straight out of musical theatre. Never quite fitting in the confines of glam, classic rock or power pop, Sparks infectious blend of smart, satirical song-writing and vocal theatrics would take a while to connect with mainstream audiences. However, they definitely set the stage for the likes of Queen as well as, of course, almost all of New Wave.