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A trifle premature

November 20, 2007

A small festive bundle of songs has been deposited on my myspace page, in premature celebration of Christmas: new recordings of A Kissed Mouth (by me), Thank God It’s Not Christmas (by Sparks), and a polite remix of A Kissed Mouth, to suit chaperoned dancing and similar activities.

About the first song I’ll say only this: that it’s an achronological account of my first eighteen Christmases, each of them spent in or around Eccleshill, Bradford. It’s an awfully regional kind of seasonal song.

As formy shambolic attempt at the Sparks song–well, the vocal part is wildly beyond my pathetic vocal capabilities, leading to quite a fun amount of flailing around, which I’m quite fond of. And you will notice that it’s a Christmas song, and it isn’t a Christmas song. And that’s a typical quality of Sparks, the most European band to come from America, who have an unparalleled ability to be something, and not be something, all at once. Watch this video of Sparks performing BC for German television, dressed for winter. Russell Mael is Christmas. Ron Mael isn’t.

This has been said many times before but it’s worth repeating that every single detail of Sparks’ music has it’s visual representation in the pairing of flouncing glammy Russell and stationary scary Ron. That dizzy mix of pop and intellect… or the intellect of pop, or the dizziness of intellect… Even when I indulged in a bit of pop nostalgia by seeing Sparks at the Royal Festival Hall a few years ago (Morrissey had booked them for his Meltdown festival), by which time Russell was more boyish than girly and Ron’s act had long developed into heavy-handed stage zaniness and a parody of self-parody, that quality was still there. And the show was pop nostalgia, and it wasn’t–they performed the whole of their 1974 album Kimono My House (a glam classic, and not a glam classic), followed by the whole of Li’l Beethoven, then their most recent album, an exercise in fun pop and cerebral serialism—which as repetitive musical habits are the same, but not the same.

I don’t know why I’m trying to analyse Sparks. Paul Morley does a better job in some Sparks sleevenotes, reprinted in his Words and Music pop adventure. I’ll just say that it’s of absolute importance that they were a pop band, which makes their queerness important, and makes the weak attempts at brainless zaniness of a million indie hipsters today look quite feeble in comparison. What hope for their trendy moustaches, after Ron Mael?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Viginia permalink
    November 21, 2007 12:50 am

    The mustache video comes off looking rather painful. Santa must have taken a cue and decided he’d keep his.

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