Friday, November 21, 2014

40 Year Itch : The Merry Band of How Are You's

   In November of 1974, Sparks followed up their surprise UK hit Kimono My House with Propaganda, their highest charting album in the US. After a band shake-up, and a failed attempt to recruit Brian May from Queen, the Mael brothers showed they hadn't lost a step...or become less weird.

  In 1982 Ron Mael told Trouser Press:

  [That] album was incredibly hard because there was a lot of pressure. Kimono was incredibly popular in England, and we were under the microscope. Anything we did was going to be judged. We went into the studio with a lot of songs, but a bit scared. We kept thinking about the Beatles and their constant rise. We tried to make Propaganda a little more complex than Kimono My House.

  Among the highlights are the UK #13 single "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth", the short a cappella over-dubbing exercise "Propaganda",   the poppish "Thanks But No Thanks" and Russell's favorite,  a twisted love song called  "Don't Leave Me Alone With Her".
   Most critics swooned but Propaganda failed to pull away American record buyers from their America, Bachman Turner Overdrive and Alice Cooper albums.

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