The artists who would come to be known for posterity as Sparks commenced inventing their often-copied, seldom-equaled brand of music back around 1970, when pop was young and brash and the Southern California airwaves awash with a contingent of post-British invasion inspirations like The Kinks, Barretts Floyd, and The Seeds. The purchase of countless shiny-sleeved import LPs convinced young Ron and Russell Mael that this enticingly provocative presentation would be the ideal means by which to impress upon the public their idiosyncratic take on life, art, and everything.
Their efforts crystallized in 1971, with the addition of another pair of brothers, Earle and Jim Mankey, and drummer Harley Feinstein, incorporated under the uncommon name of Halfnelson. Produced by wonderboy and kindred spirit Todd Rundgren, the groups startlingly original debut yielded a local hit (local being Montgomery, Alabama); then vanished from view. Their label, with the mysterious logic that only record companies possess, decided that their sportcentric moniker was responsible for the albums less-than-stellar performance, and suggested a Marx Bros-inspired name change: thus Sparks was born.
A Woofer In Tweeters Clothing, was released as a follow-up, with high psychedelia-cred coming from helmer James Lowe of The Electric Prunes. Once again, clever nomenclature didnt translate to runaway revenues; and the group found itself at an impasse. The icebreaker came from across the pond, where the band had been welcomed enthusiastically by Continental types on a brief 1972 transatlantic jaunt. In quick succession the Maels parted ways with their LA compatriots; hopped a plane to Heathrow; recruited a group of London players-about-town to back them; and in 1974 began recording (with producer Muff Winwood) the album that would make Sparks a Kimono-My-House-hold name in the UK. Within 8 months of emigrating, the group had infected the Isles with the melodic diabolism of the #2 hit This Town Aint Big Enough For Both of Us, regularly frightening the nations children with their Top of the Pops appearances. Propaganda, released mere months later, pushed pops margins yet further and saw more Sparks in the charts. By all appearances, the band was well and truly on its way.
Fast foward to 2008...
When faced with the challenge of what to do next, Ron and Russell have, in the past, not just risen to the challenge but surpassed any expectations. So when asked what plans they had for their 21st album ‘Exotic Creatures Of The Deep’ their answer was typically audacious: “How do we best unveil our new album? How about playing in concert every single song off of every album that preceded it, all 20 albums on 20 consecutive nights, culminating in the premiere of our latest? Thats approximately 250 songs, or for you musicians, 4 million, 825 thousand, 273 notes.
In June 2012 Ron and Russell premiered their Two Hands One Mouth show at Bush Hall in London. In October 2012 the ‘Two Hands One Mouth’ European tour saw the American brothers tour as a duo for the first time. With no band & no computers, Ron (two hands…on keyboards) and Russell (one mouth…on vocals) presented the very essence of Sparks and their extensive catalogue in a show of impact, energy and aggression. The tour was recorded and will be released in spring 2013 as Sparks' first ever live recording.