Sparks This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" at Top Of The Pops video

Sparks video - This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us
This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us
Video "promo film" directed by Rosie Samwell Smith
The first single from "Kimono My House" Lp was the song "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us". Music videos hadn’t been invented at the time, but Sparks and Island Records nevertheless decided to make one. In 1974 such a thing was called a ”promo film”, but they were rarely made and rarely seen. A unique notion in pre-MTV times, the film is never shown on TV during the life of the single.

”This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us” video had been released on the 22nd of March so by today’s standards the ”video” was slightly late, but it was probably never shown anywhere, anyway.
So Sparks and a filming crew motor down to the South Coast of England. Lord Montague of Beaulieu has lent his fine country home as the setting.
On a cold and wet day this short movie was directed by former Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith's splendid wife, Rosy. Sparks do various band-things for the benefit of the cameras. Adrian Fisher and Martin Gordon get a bit pissed on cheap sparkling wine but a pleasant time was had by all as if at a party...

In this video, a favourite shot is the one where Russell Mael dashes out of the house toward the camera in slow motion, the others gathering behind him on the porch of the wooden house. Martin Gordon, to the fore, is laughing - it’s all somehow idyllic. On the other hand, it’s Martin Gordon firing the famous gunshots at Russell Mael - perhaps more telling... Yet it was one of the happier moments during Martin Gordon’s spell with Sparks.

"This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" launched the band and was an enormous hit, but it could have been even bigger : The single was climbing up the charts and an appearance on Top Of The Pops was asked for. When they were first offered the Top Of The Pops, Sparks turned up at the studios only to be told that, the Maels not being members of the Musicians' Union and their work permits were not in order, they wouldn't be allowed on the show. - read more about the Maels...

This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us - Sparks Video Russ Mael
Russell Mael
This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us - Sparks Dinky Diamond
Norman Dinky Diamond
This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us - Sparks Adrian Fisher
Adrian Fisher
This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us - Sparks
Gordon, Fisher & Ron Mael
This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us - Sparks videos
The All Band
This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us - Sparks Ron Mael
Ronald Mael

Russell Mael : "We were with Island and there was this real big push to try to make "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both of Us" work. There was resistance initially because it's a pretty unique song, but they were making a bit of headway and by a few lucky breaks the song got into the charts and we were offered Top of the Pops. And all of a sudden Island Records were rejoicing that they'd done it finally and this was going to be the massive break for Sparks in the UK.
So we went to re-record the song and the producer of the show, a guy named Robin Nash, came down to meet us. A very British gentleman, and he says with a perfect BBC accent : "Hullo, Robin Nash, Top of the Pops" and I went, "Hi, I'm Russell from Sparks" with my best American twang. And he said, "Oh. Oh... excuse me, I must make a telephone call". And they pulled us off of the show, because they'd assumed we were British and we weren't part of the Musicians' Union here. So Sparks was removed from Top of the Pops that week and replaced by The Rubettes".

Few days later Sparks turn up at Top of the Pops for a second time. Manager John Hewlett and Island Records had this time done his preparation and the band manage to perform.

Russell Mael : "A week or two weeks later they allowed us back on Top of the Pops and then the song was amazingly well received. But because "Sugar Baby Love" by The Rubettes was so popular also, Sparks got to #2 instead of #1. Because of that snafu, that's why we didn't have a #1 at that time..."

Island Company and John Hewlett had went through all the proper things that apparently they were supposed to have done before. They later applied and Ron & Russell Mael were allowed into the British Musicians' Union. They applied a number of times and were constantly rejected. Each time, the reason for being rejected was that they had been rejected the time before. And then finally, for some reason, the Mael brothers were graciously allowed to be members. The Rubettes were instead given their first TV break, and by the time that Sparks did make the show, the momentum was against them : "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us" peaked at #2 in Britain, behind "Sugar Baby Love" by The Rubettes. - read more about the single...

This first Top of the Pops gig seems to be lost as the one in circulation is a later version with Ian Hampton on bass. The original version with bassist Martin Gordon still might be somewhere in the vaults... Doing Top of the Pops had a tremendous effect. Suddenly there were screaming girls... Sparks had become top stars in England and the boys were very much in demand. But the chemistry between the Maels and Martin Gordon wasn’t working very well and after the Top of the Pops show had been broad-cast, Martin Gordon was replaced in the band by Jook's bassist Ian Hampton. - read more about Martin Gordon...

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SPARKS 1969-1973
the early years of the Maels

Most of informations and the main pic regarding Sparks' first video on this webpage were obtained from Martin Gordon. Complementary infos from Petteri Aro. Informations about Top Of The Pops appearance were obtained from "Glitter Suits & Platform Boots", a website dedicated to British pop in the early- and mid-1970s ran by Alwyn W. Turner. Check out the site at Screen captures of Sparks video from Christophe "Dr Outer Space" Horlin, Belgium, Europe. Check out his website :

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