Sparks Live Bottom Line Greenwich Village - New York

Sparks Live At The Bottom Line - Big Beat Tour - 1976
Sparks "Live At The Bottom Line" Cd cover
artist interpretation by Xavier Lorente-Darracq
After the release of the "Big Beat" album Sparks toured North America with a slightly change of the line-up : bassist David Swanson replaced Sal Maida (althought Maida played some gigs), Luke Zamperini & Jimmy McAllister were on guitars and Hilly "Boy" Michaels still on drums. - read more...
Several weeks before the band had been shot at Magic Mountain amusement park, Valencia, California, USA performing two songs "live" for the "Rollercoaster" motion picture. In fact The Maels & the boys mimed to their studio recordings of "Big Boy" & "Fill'er Up" and applauses were added in the mix.

During winter '76 Sparks played at "The Bottom Line" club, NYC (with Sal Maida on bass guitar). The band played two evenings at Greenwitch Village and on the 21st of December the performance was recorded. Later this tape from the sound board turned up on a scarce live bootleg. Eleven songs were recorded, mainly tracks from "Big Beat", so on this album "real" live versions of "Big Boy" & "Fill'er Up" can be heard.

Here are the songs Sparks performed at the Bottom Line which can be found on the bootleg Cd : “Nothing To Do” - “I Want To Be Like Everybody Else” - “Something For the Girl With Everything” - “White Women” - “Everybody's Stupid” - “B.C” - “Equator" (Poisoned Roses) - “This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us” - “Amateur Hour” - “I Like Girls” - “Big Boy" and as bonus track an extremely enthralling interview of Russell Mael by journalist Rodney Bingenheimer.
Sal Maida : "During the Bottom Line show Ron Mael put the piano bench to his chest and slide across the front table knocking over Columbia Record executives food and drink ! Nice touch."
Mary Jane Pimont : "On "Live at the Bottom Line" unofficial release Sparks' die-hard fans can find the mythical version of “Equator with the Roses”. The anecdote has to be told : While Russell Mael was singing “Equator”, a fan thrown a rose bunch to him (the song tells the story of a guy who's mad at his girl). So holding up the bunch Russell suddenly changed the lyrics of the tune and sang “poisoned roses”. At the end of the song, Russell however apologized to the girl for having qualified her roses “of poisoned”.
Sparks live gig at the Bottom Line - Big Beat - 1976
Sparks 1976 Big Beat US Tour
Luke Zamperini and The Maels
During the 1976 US Tour Sparks' concerts consisted mainly of material from their debut album for Columbia. . Most of the songs from "Big Beat" rocked, and provided fantastic live material. Sparks' music was basically heavy and powerful ditties with emphasis on ringing guitars courtesy by guitarists Luke Zamperini and Jimmy McAllister. The arrangements were obviously mostly just guitar/bass/drums.
Ron Mael who had abandoned his RMI Electra-piano for a grand piano on the album and tour spent his time fiddling around on his instrument, staring out at the audience with the same darn blank expression the whole show. He appeared to be completely disinterested in the concert, which obviously was part of the act.

Regenerated and revamped Sparks hit audiences with the new tunes and scored with "Big Boy", "I Bought The Mississippi River" and "I Like Girls". However, it was the older material, especially from "Kimono My House" and "Propaganda" albums which brought down the rafters : "Amateur Hour", "Something For The Girl With Everything", "Talent Is An Asset", "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" were all performed with a zealous verve while "Equator" was performed in a more bluesy arrangement.

The band put on great shows. On the 31st of December 1976 Sparks played at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium with none other than Van Halen (pre-debut release) and Flo and Eddie (Frank Zappa's friends) as the openers. The top moments of the gigs came during "Everybody's Stupid" where keyboardist Ron Mael came out from behind his piano. Also, on the last tune of the setlist, "Big Boy", Ron Mael again, this time terribly frustrated from the lack of attention, bashed his piano bench - which paralleled the Who's destruction of their instruments on stage - and then raced over table tops flailing a broken leg or two, much to the gleeful and confused delight of the women up front.
Karl Kuenning : "Before the show a band roadie took a roll black gaffer's tape and started to rebuild a piano stool that was in five or six pieces. I remember asking him, "Why not just buy a new one, or borrow one from the stage crew ?" The guy laughed and said keyboardist Ron Mael is a little hard on stools, this one will do fine. During the show Ron would fuss and fidget with the stool from time to time. Near the end of their final song, he stood up and smashed the stool on the stage for effect. The tape let loose and the stool separated into it’s five or six component pieces on cue. To this day it was the most cost efficient special effect I had witnessed."
Sparks Olympia Theatre Paris
Jim McAllister
guitar player
James "Jimmy" McAllister joined Chesmann Square from Kansas City in the fall of '67. The band released one single and split up in the summer of '74. Jimmy McAllister moved to New York and played with Michael Brown (Left Banke), with the Beckies and Mick Ronson's band. Jim McAllister joined Sparks in October '76 for the "Big Beat" US tour. Then he played or toured with Ronnie Spector, Desmond Child and Rouge in '78. He got into the jingle circuit in NYC in '79 as a session guitarist and recorded with Hilly Michaels. In 1982 Jimmy McAllister did a Left Banke reunion album and recorded with The Beds. He did his last tour in '86 with English band Belouis Some and moved to Connecticut in '88-'89 as part of a production company with Hilly Michaels. James McAllister passed away in Summer of 2006.
Sparks Olympia Theatre Paris
David Swanson
bass player
David Swanson joined Sparks for the "Big Beat" US tour. After that bassist David Swanson formed The Pop. The band started out in the mid-70’s with Roger Prescott on guitar and vocals and David Robinson (formerly with the Modern Lovers and later with the Cars), on drums. During the recording of the first Lp, the band added Tim Henderson on bass guitar and David Swanson moved to rhythm guitar. Tim McGovern replaced David Robinson on drums and the band recorded a second album, "Go" (Arista Records), which was produced by Earle Mankey (formerly with Sparks). The Pop were regulars at The Whisky and The Starwood and played shows at these legendary venues with everyone from Johnny Thunders to Devo. The Pop split in 1981 and David Swanson renewed his interest in roots and country influences with the band Route 66.
Sparks became a British band
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Sparks Propaganda album

Most informations regarding Sparks at the Bottom Line
were obtained from Rock Around The World site :

Additional infos from Christophe Horlin and Marie-Jeanne "LadyMael" Pimont

©2006 by XAVIER LORENTE-DARRACQ / GRAPHIK DESIGNS - FRANCE duplication strictly prohibited