Sparks Propaganda album lp pic cover

Sparks "Propaganda" album front cover
Sparks "Propaganda" album front cover
Welcome on board ! - Photography by Monty Coles

Sparks' "Propaganda" album was a worthy follow-up to "Kimono My House" with similar themes and virtues but japanese geishas women were gone from the cover. The sleeve of Sparks' fourth Lp - the second one on Island Records - was the first album cover starring Ron Mael & Russell Mael on the front. There were obviously photos of them on the Bearsville Lp covers but the Maels were among the whole band.

Sparks' "Propaganda" foreign pressings were slightly different from the original UK release. The later had an inner sleeve containing the record but French and Italian pressings got gatefold covers. Some pressings had a small black and white repro of the inner shot including the band name and album title on the right top of the front, some had none.
The album concept launched a succession of photos depicting Ron Mael and Russell Mael in numerous very embarrassing situations. The front cover shows the Maels abducted, bound and gagged at the back of a speeding boat running across the waves.

Sparks "Propaganda" back cover

On the back cover, Ron & Russell Mael are still tied up and gagged on the back seat of a car looking for help through the rear windshield. This car is stopped at a Heron petrol station. Drummer Norman "Dinky Diamond", bassist Ian Han Hampton and guitarist Trevor White - the kidnappers ? - are standing by the gas pumps while a man - the driver ? a gas station employee ? - is checking the motor of the vehicule.
A popular British brand car was used for the photo session. The model seems to be a Humber "New Super Snipe" from the late fifties (maybe 1959 model).

According singer Russell Mael the photography on the boat was shot during a gale somewhere near Bournemouth on the south coast of England and that look in their eyes is not acting, they were freezing !
The back cover photo was shot by night at a gas station near Notting Hill Gate as a last-minute alternative to more coastal shots that where ruined by bad weather. In the 90s' this pic was grabbed by bootleggers as front cover of a "One And A Half-Nelson" Cd reissue.

Sparks "Propaganda" inner sleeve shot
Sparks "Propaganda" inner sleeve shot
In bed with the Maels - Photography by Monty Coles

The inner sleeve pic finds Ron Mael & Russell Mael lyed on a king size bed trying to break their ties. Ron Mael is still gagged and tied up but Russell has taken off the handkerchief and is attempting to telephone for help. This shot, originally printed in black and white, was used as front cover of the single "Achoo", a 7" which looked to conquer the North American market.

Photographies and design concept of Sparks' "Propaganda" sleeve were by Monty Coles. Monty Coles was a skilled Australian photographer who worked in England at the time.
In 1977 the photographer was involved with the Bryan Ferry's "In Your Mind" album on Island records. The design of the Bryan Ferry's Lp was signed by Nicholas Deville who also worked on Sparks' "Kimono My House" Lp concept.
Later Monty Coles went back to Australia and became a very renowned fashion photographer. A Monty Coles' website does exist on the web but is currently under construction -

Sparks Propaganda lp - Alternative photo
an alternative shot of the Sparks' "Propaganda" album back cover
Sparks became a British band
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