Make what you will of the comedy show that is Sparks. I grew up listening to their records, and their eccentric sensibilities never struck me as particularly weird. At least not more so than most of what else was floating around in the 1970’s. But watching their videos and live performances, it does strike me just how far out they were. The dynamic contrast between very opposite brothers Ron and Russel is totally lost on record, for one thing. It’s something you only get a slight hint of looking at their album covers. But you can see in in action as the nexus of the band. There is no band, per se. It’s just those two, composing an endless series of musical in-jokes.
This is more military terminology all in one place than has ever been written into a pop song. Why has Sparks been the first and only band to discover the tongue-twisting wordplay delights of that particular jargon? Who knows, but it’s right up their alley. All I know is, I wouldn’t want to play scrabble with these guys. They know how to spell potentate and subterfuge, and use them in a sentence.
Sparks. They’re big in the Netherlands. And you’re missing out, America. I guess ya’ll just not ready for this level of wit and sophistication. If anything’s held Sparks back, it’s the subtlety of their humor. Being a musical parody duo is too easy. Anybody can make fun of things that are popular. But humor without mockery is a finer art. Sometimes you wouldn’t know they were joking except for Ron’s face.