Sparks, No.1 In Heaven

Andy Beta

By Andy Beta

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Hot pop stars wooing mercenary hit producers goes back to the dawn of the studio itself. LA's Sparks, from their debut on through Indiscreet, settled for nothing less than top-tier producers — Todd Rundgren, Tony Visconti. That they were only pop stars in Europe rather than in their homeland (while a crime) is beside the point.

The brothers Mael enlist Giorgio Moroder for a disco pop masterpiece.

Like any good gambler at the dog tracks, the brothers Mael (Ron and Russell, the only two constants in Sparks four-decade career) always went with the hot hand. By 1979, the zeitgeist of pop music was wholly ensconced in the studios of Giorgio Moroder. The man-machine behind Donna Summer's roborgasmic “I Feel Love,” Moroder was not the most natural choice for the always-game and ever-quirky Mael Brothers, but from the first analog bloops that announce “Tryouts for the Human Race,” it's a match made in heaven. That the rapscallion Maels capsize that beatific yet salacious sound so as to sing about sperm remains their master…uh stroke. Never before have Moroder's components and circuits been so hellbent on soaring up to Nirvana (check the divine vocodered exhalations wafting upwards on “My Other Voice”). The collaboration between the Maels and Moroder not only aims high, but hits higher. Who else could name a song “The No. 1 Song in Heaven” and have it be both cocky and absolutely correct?