Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ron and Russell's high water mark

Playing right now: Sparks - Propaganda

This is the second night in a row I've sat at the computer with my big honkin' headphones on me head, with Propaganda shooting into the ears. What a masterpiece.
A couple weeks ago I had to review Sparks' latest album, Exotic Creatures of the Deep for Blurt. I really wanted to like it, but it was lacking a lot of the things that made Propaganda great. Not that I was using that criteria alone when reviewing the album. But the new disc made my pull out this 1974 classic. Listening to it again reminds me of what was so great about them. The lyrics on this album really shoot out fast and furious like bullets. If you miss them, the melodies still grab on to you and say, "Follow the lyric sheet the next time."
And when you do, it's easy to see that nobody was twisting classic lyrical scenarios like the Maels - military metaphors ("Reinforcements"), a song about those who didn't make it onto Noah's Ark ("Bon Voyage," which is funny just thinking about the subject and title), a kid conflicted between his overprotective parents and wanting to take candy and rides from strangers ("Thanks But No Thanks"). The latter song is also interesting in the fact that the real story is left a little vague: are his parents really overprotective, or is it that little Russell is too naive to realize that the people to whom he's apologizing are really child abusers? It's like a John Vanderslice song.
"Thanks..." also has a lyric that's both pithy and simplistic: "My parents think the world is cruel/ I think that they prefer it cruel." I love how vulnerable Russell sounds in this song too.


nevermore said...

agreed. a masterpiece. the album art on prop and kimono and indiscreet was something to behold. predesessor to the modern huge photographer (can't think of his name) who sets up those intricate scenes that stymie. not many have come close to the maels over the years. those 70s albums have totally held up.


shanleymusic said...

Thanks. Good points about the cover art too.