Record Review: Sparks – No. 1 In Heaven DLX RM [part 1]

Repertoire Records ‎| Euro | CD | 2013 | REP 5309

Sparks: No. 1 In Heaven DLX RM EURO CD [2013]

  1. Tryouts For The Human Race – 6:06
  2. Academy Award Performance – 4:59
  3. La Dolce Vita – 5:52
  4. Beat The Clock – 4:22
  5. My Other Voice – 4:53
  6. The Number One Song In Heaven – 7:26
  7. Tryouts For The Human Race (Single Version) – 3:17
  8. La Dolce Vita (Single Version) – 3:48
  9. Beat The Clock (Single Version) – 3:46
  10. The Number One Song In Heaven (Single Version) – 3:53
  11. Beat The Clock (Canadian Single Version) – 4:21
  12. Tryouts For The Human Race (Extended Version) – 7:56
  13. La Dolce Vita (Extended Version) – 5:57
  14. Beat The Clock (Extended Version) – 6:40
  15. Tryouts For The Human Race (12 Inch Short Version) – 3:58

I am a lame-o. I first heard Sparks in 1981 [“Tips For Teens”] and took an immediate shine to them…while not actually buying any of their records. Why this did not happen is a matter of self-conjecture. Was it because they were American? Maybe I figured “how good could they be, after all?” Their long-standing critical buzz possibly triggered my BS detector.  I should have been a huge fan from point zero, but alas, this did not happen.

In 1990, a slightly older, wiser friend gave me a mix tape of Sparks when she found out I did not own their entire oeuvre. Called “Young + Vital Sparks” it should have been the catalyst that pushed me over the edge into immediate fandom, but never underestimate the parsimonious ways of This Monk. Instead, I waited until I saw a used Sparks CD in the used bins of Tampa’s Vinyl Fever some time in 1993 during a record show trip. It was 1988’s iffy “Interior Design” album at a then low price of $4.99. Not a terrible record, but not a great one, either.

I next got a copy of Sparks “No. 1 In Heaven” on the Elektra LP some time later when another friend bought it for me at a flea market or antique mall. Thoughtful, but it really remained until another friend bought a copy of Sparks 1997 album “Plagiarism” under the misconception that it was a greatest hits album and disappointedly gave it to us, that we finally got infected with Sparks fever. Even then, it was less than a full-blown infection. I bought every Sparks album on CD taking in their 1986-current discography at a less than swift velocity.

I bought their newest albums concurrently, usually in the year of release. Often at full price! Such was my growing ardor. This brings us to today where it’s nice to own all Sparks albums from 1986-2017, except “The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman” which remains criminally difficult to purchase on CD for less than a kings ransom. However, barring a copy of “Kimono My House,” nothing recorded by them prior to 1986 was on a shiny silver disc in my Record Cell. Then a week or so ago my Discogs feed listed two Sparks DLX RMs packed with bonus tracks, so I put them in my cart, and when I did, the helpful cart showed me that the dealer had another Sparks CDs that I had not yet even put on my want list also available! All were packed with bonus tracks and priced to buy at a rare moment when I had the cash to do so. I received “No. 1 In Heaven,” “Angst In My Pants,” and “Sparks In Outer Space” in one fell swoop; besting even the day when I ordered “Hello Young Lovers” and “Exotic Creatures Of The Deep” on the same day! Needless to say, I fell deep into the Sparks rabbit hole, and this in the hours before the next Sparks opus, “Hippopotamus” is due for our ears on this Friday.

Next: …Enough back pedaling, how about the review?

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10 Responses to Record Review: Sparks – No. 1 In Heaven DLX RM [part 1]

  1. JT says:

    Oy, Monk, “Angst In My Pants,” and “Sparks In Outer Space” were my FIRST two Sparks records, which I discovered when they were current. That’s their New Wave period! How did you miss out on these for all these years? Those and “Kimono My House” are their three best, IMHO. Interested on your thoughts on those when you get around to it.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – The short form? I think that “Angst In My Pants” might be better than “Kimono My House,” but I’ve only had “Angst In My Pants” to listen to for about 10 days and not 20 years. Give me a little more time. Heaven help me, but I think I am entering a period where I finally have to have it all right now!


      • JT says:

        How have you survived without Eaten by the Monster of Love in your life all these years? A mix-tape staple for me for the past three decades! Cool Places was a college radio and MTV staple for me for quite a while in its heyday.

        And, as you probably know, the backing band on Angst and Outer Space went on to form their own project, Gleaming Spires; the drummer is David Kendrick who went on to replace Alan Myers in Devo before the almighty Josh Freise took over.


        • postpunkmonk says:

          JT – Actually, “Eaten By The Monster Of Love” was on the “Young And Vital Sparks” mix tape my friend Lee gave me in 1990, so I had heard it. And I’ve owned the “Cool Places” 12″ for about as long! I am just lame! I suppose part of it was the knowledge that Sparks had such a long and storied career by even that time, that I felt so far behind the curve it paralyzed me. Remember. In 1981, when I first heard Sparks, most bands I was deep into had two to three albums at best. Plus, I point to my not always ideal policy of buying things when I saw them used.

          And I’ve had this record for about as long as “Cool Places.”

          I never saw the Gleaming Spires album and now in 2014, the “Songs Of The Spires” album was reissued… on vinyl! Thanks for nothing, Futurismo!


  2. diskojoe says:

    Finally, something about Sparks.I first heard of them exactly 40 yrs. ago when a friend gave me a mix tape of their Island stuff. A couple of yrs. later another friend (the one I went to see Devo w/that yr.) got a copy of #1 In Heaven when it came out. All I have is the three 70s Island albums & the Rhino compilation that came out in 1991. I also enjoy watching their videos on YouTube. I’m amazed that they have lasted so long together unlike the Everly, Davies & Gallagher brothers.


  3. Joe Christ says:

    Sparks are brilliant and utterly unique. My 5 favourite Sparks albums are Angst In My Pants, No.1 In Heaven, Propaganda, Hello Young Lovers and Kimono My House.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Joe Christ – Similar to my five: “Kimono My House,” “No. 1 In Heaven,” “Balls,” L’il Beethoven,” + “Hello Young Lovers.” I still have many albums to get though.


      • Joe Christ says:

        ‘Balls’ and ‘Lil’ Beethoven’ are indeed very good too! I should have done a top ten instead of five and included ‘Big Beat’, ‘Exotic Creatures Of The Deep’ and ‘A Woofer In Tweeters Clothing’


  4. Pingback: Record Review: Noel – “Dancing Is Dangerous” US 7″ | Post-Punk Monk

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