Want List: Collecting The Sparks Power Pop Periphery – #1 Hilly Michaels

sparks promo shot 1976
The Brothers Mael in 1976 on CBS records [image from Lansure’s Musical Paraphenalia]

Sure, sure! we’ve been neck deep in Sparks appreciation the last month or so, following on the heels of their documentary and in anticipation of their upcoming musical film. But it’s not just all about the Maels. They have been working with some interesting musicians who have stories of their own to tell, even as they have come and gone in the larger Sparks tale. First we’ll look at Hilly Michaels, their American drummer on the albums “Big Beat” and “Introducing.”

Hilly Michaels

hilly michaels
This loooks like a frame from the unforgettable “Calling All Girls” video ca. 1980

After seeing Hilly Michaels in the “Sparks Brothers” documentary, I was thinking back to the heady New Wave era of 1980 when in the pre-MTV netherzone one could catch his animated music video for the infectious “Calling All Girls” on one of the weekly music video syndicated shows like “Hollywood Heartbeat” or “Rockworld.” The animated color xerox video was a classic of its time and it didn’t hurt that the song was supremely catchy as well. I really need to buy the “Calling All Girls” album since any CD will be by my own hand!

Warner Brothers Records | US | LP | 1980 | BSK 3431

Hilly Michaels – Calling All Girls – US – LP [1980]

  1. Calling All Girls
  2. Teenage Days
  3. Shake It And Dance
  4. Gemini
  5. U.S. Male
  6. Without You
  7. Turn Me On Your Radio
  8. Close Encounters
  9. Devotion
  10. Something On Your Mind

Michaels had lots of big name help on the record. Greg [“The Cars”] Hawkes played synths! But it’s true that guys like Dan Hartman wouldn’t be big until years later. But just the BVs on this album sported Ellen Foley, Karla DeVito, Lorna Luft and …Liza Minnelli?! Just who did Michaels know? The Maels didn’t have that sort of pull back then. Here’s the demo version of “Calling All Girls” if you’ve not had the pleasure, from Michaels’ Bandcamp page.

Michaels after his two album stint on WB found himself drumming for Ian Hunter on “All Of The Good Ones Were Taken” And he had drummed on Foley’s album “Nightout” which was produced by …Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson! It’s a tangled Web of Rock we weave. Speaking of which, it bears mentioning that Michaels recorded his first single in 1969; the same year that Sparks were recording the Halfnelson album, in his L.A. combo known as Joy. They were a four-piece comprised of Michaels, Fred Bova, Glen Selwitz, and Michael Bolotin.

Epic Records | US | 7″ | 1969 | 5-10528

It looks like they misspelled Michael Bolotin’s name on the writer’s credit there. They added a “k.” You might know Bolotin better by another name.

The Artist Known As Michael Bolton

<cue: stinger!>

Next: …More Girls, More Sex

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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3 Responses to Want List: Collecting The Sparks Power Pop Periphery – #1 Hilly Michaels

  1. thxdave says:

    “Calling…” was one of the earliest “Hollywood Heartbeat” videos I taped back in Dec. 1980 along with “Shake It And Dance” (https://youtu.be/HL5wcr00-Ec). Very fun stuff and I managed to find the vinyl later.

    Like

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