Whoa, let’s start with the negatives, er, one, there is a moment where Wright is talking about Sparks’ 88 album not selling and he pans with a probable stock footage seen including W.A.S.P.’s The Headless Children, released in 1989. Aaaand that is the only thing I can say bad about this beautiful musical adventure.
I remember seeing Sparks on MTV, the video for This Town and thinking “Whaaaa” and instantly going out and getting Mael Intuition, a sort of Best Of collection, which my sister instantly stole also, as we were both loving these show tunes mixed with lyrical genius. We did not have the Internet yet, so Ron and Russell were still a mystery. A beautiful guy and one who looked like Hitler. We did not know yet that the Hitler guy was writing all these genius songs, but once the internet and other bands started telling us about them, Sparks were your other favourite band, the one you did not talk about but you know would come up.
Edgar Wright is an amazing film maker and a huge Sparks fan. Other directors would put themselves on screen and tell us all about how much they loved the band. Not Wright, sure he pops up but he lets less predictable fans do their best to spell the magic, you might not think that Red Hot Chili Peppers would cross over with Sparks, but Flea is one of the biggest fans here and there are early flyers where RHCP were supporting Sparks. so he is not just blowing smoke.
The other difference between this and other band’s documentaries is that you often sit around, waiting for your favourite bit, Manic’s The Holy Bible, Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, but with Sparks, they have 25 albums each with songs you love, as I said, I came into the band through a best of, but also there are a few albums discussed here that I had never heard of – it’s not a doc about “success”, it covers the entire career. It’s thrilling. We all know about Kimono My House, but this was the first time I heard of ‘Introducing’, a failure perhaps, but one we can now all go back and discover thanks to Edgar.
The film also works because both Russell and Ron are beautiful screen icons. Sure Russell is the one that the girls swooned over, but Ron’s cold stare is what made us all shocked/confused. Both Mael’s give us everything, we learn so much from both which is a surprise, I expected Ron to stay quiet. Again, Sparks do not nod to your expectations.
This is an amazing look at an amazing band, you’ll see Duran Duran, Franz Ferdinand, New Order, Erasure and others nodding to the kings and by god, it is time for Sparks to get the respect they deserve. Although I’m sure they would be prouder of my younger sister blasting This Town whilst I was upstairs wondering where my CD was. Ron. Russell. Edgar. Genius.