Sparks Propaganda Lp story - Part Two

Sparks Propaganda British TV shows
Sparks waiting for their first appearance on French TV - 1974
Guitarist Adrian Fisher was still in the lineup but not in the pic

Sparks' "Propaganda" retained the same producer, Muff Winwood. The album was recorded during August and September of 1974 and featured 11 new songs. "Propaganda" was a really worthy follow-up to "Kimono My House". It charted instantly and peaked in the UK at #9. One month later, the single “Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth” jumped to #13.

The song displayed a slight change of pace, which won approval from all Sparks fans and devotees. “Never Turn Your Back...” was the nearest thing to a ballad that Sparks had ever done. The b-side of this single was the non-album track "Alabamy Right", a song which had been recorded one year before with session-men John Porter and Paul Rudolph.

Russell Mael : "After the series of uptempo singles, “Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth” was our interpretation of a change of pace. On a BBC Radio 1 record review broadcast, Ray Davies from the Kinks inaccurately accused the lyrics of relating to some sort of hippy, earth-child theme. Yeah, right, Ray... stick to writing about transvestites..." - Russell's allusion to the Kinks' well-known song "Lola".
A second single from the album, “Something For The Girl With Everything”, reached #17. The flip-side of this late was the fantastic non-album track "Marry Me". "Something For The Girl With Everything", beside a bezerk hoover, featured Russell's tembling falsetto and breakneck pace. It was in complete contrast to his tear jerking rendition on "Never Turn Your Back On Mother's Earth".
So 1974 brought Sparks four hits in the UK Top Twenty within nine months. Due to the huge success of the band in Europe Sparks’ American debut Bearsville LP was reissued, as well as the single “Girl From Germany” from their second album, "A Woofer In Tweeter’s Clothing".

Sparks "Propaganda" album front cover
Sparks' Propaganda Album - 1974
a worthy follow-up to "Kimono My House

The Maels brand of warmth and affection was in high evidence, while Dinky Diamond established himself as one of rock music's finest drummer. Ian Hampton let his bass lines flow about, then curved into urgent twists while Ron Mael's keyboards ability could be proven faultless. Adrian Fisher's heavy riffs and howling solos still rocked throughout the album. Trevor White added guitar which at time was understated and tasteful, and then flashed into jerking burst of chord extravaganzas.
"Propaganda" was packaged under one of the strangest covers to come along in a long while and the sleeve of Sparks' fourth Lp was the first album cover starring Ron Mael & Russell Mael on the front.
The album concept launched a succession of photos depicting them in numerous very embarrassing situations. The front cover showed the Maels abducted, bound and gagged at the back of a speeding boat and on the back cover, they were still tied up on the back seat of a car.
- read more about the cover...

Despite at time Sparks was uncomfortably wedged somewhere between Glam and Rock although it was neither one entirely, both in concert and on record, the band was one of the half-dozen most inventive and entertaining bands to arrive in the seventies. Sparks truly was musically innovative and was producing fantastic critically-acclaimed albums. "Kimono My House" and "Propaganda" Lps were giving the band an art-house reputation and the Maels looked as if they might be intellectually dangerous; on the other hand, Sparks was becoming an established chart act. Russell Mael : "As a result of numerous "Top of The Pops" appearances we were now experts on the menu choices of the BBC canteen..."

Sparks "Propaganda" press
Sparks - "Mirabelle"

In a pop landscape dominated by the boys-will-be-girls glamour of Marc Bolan (T-Rex) and David Bowie, and the glam-rock stompings of Gary Glitter, Mud, Slade and Sweet, Sparks seemed exotically weird. The Mael brothers were camp in the extreme and the British loved their behaviour. The band was attracting a live audience that included large numbers of teenyboppers. Soon Russell & Ron became centerfold pinups for all the British teen magazines.
Despite being terribly serious about music, the Maels played the game and Russ, the "pin up boy", even wrote a weekly column in the girls’ magazine, "Mirabelle" : “Heady stuff. Favourite sweets. The pros and cons of pies. Colours - do you like them ?”
Ron Mael : "One of the group's main goal was to have all the little ten-year-old boys in England slicking back their hair and pencilling tiny moustaches before they come to our concerts..."

Sparks' "Propaganda" tour began at York on the 8th of November 1974, at Reading University. The following dates in the UK were : Exeter University (9), Conventry Theatre (10), Hammersmith Odeon (11), Swansey Brangwyn Hall (13), Oxford New Theater (14), Blackburn St George's Hall (15), Lancaster University (16), Smoke-on-Trend Victoria Hall (17), Southport Theatre (18), Edinburgh Odeon (19), Dundee Caird Hall (20), Glasgow ApolloTheatre (21), Manchester Free Trade Hall (22), Hastings Pier Pavillion (23), Croydon Fairfield Hall (24), Torquay Princess Theatre (25), Bornemouth Winter Gardens (26), Birmingham Town Hall (27), Dunstable California Balroom (28).

Sparks became a British band
go back to the main page
SPARKS 1969-1973
the early years of the Maels

Informations regarding Sparks tour dates
were obtained from Sparks' fan :
Patrick McNamee

Additional infos from Ian Hampton, Leslie Hanagan and Madeline Bocaro

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