Sparks – No.1 Song In Heaven (1979) (US Elektra 6E-186)

Sparks – No. 1 In Heaven
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192 kHz | FLAC |  300 dpi scans | Synth-pop, Electronic, Disco
1.35 GB (24/192) + 806 MB (24/96)
1979 Elektra 6E-186

This is Sparks’ world and we’re all just living in it.  Their catalog is an embarrassment of riches. A group that continually reinvents itself but always remains unmistakably Sparks.

This time, with Giorgio Moroder producing as well as playing  some synthesizers. Every track on this record is a winner winner chicken dinner. And by the end of it, if you still haven’t tripped down the rabbit hole of Ron Mael’s brilliant lyrics. if you’re still put off by brother Russell Mael’s falsetto approximation of Tiny Tim with some swagger, well then, the title cut gives you one last chance at, um, redemption. It’s the kind of song that puts Sparks in a class all their own, apart from other musical artists in popular music who flirted with the absurd in ways that often relied on smart aleck sarcasm and mockery. This isn’t to say their humor has no bite or sharp edges – Mael has some wonderfully cynical takes on romance and what I’ll call ‘rituals of courtship,’ and his writing can also be quite dark (their latest, brilliant album “The Girls Is Crying In Her Latte” has a lots of that) – but there’s always a humanism to it. With “No.1 Song In Heaven,” they take an idea that would just be goofy in anybody else’s hands, and spin that silliness into something beautiful. Like haunting-you-in-the-ethereal-afterlife beautiful, which is only appropriate. Also, during live shows this is the one time Ron Mael comes out from behind his keyboard, and does a little dance —


Also on board for this record is drummer Keith Forsey, who lends a dash of rock urgency to the majestic synths.  Forsey, by the way, later wrote the hit single “Don’t You Forget About Me” for the otherwise forgettable group Simple Minds.

In the same year of 1979, the Mael brothers would produce an extended single by the somewhat mysterious artist Nöel, “Is There More To Life Than Dancing?”, which got Record Store Day release as a bonus with the original LP this year.  Apparently there were rumors that Nöel was actually Russell Mael in drag, which is absurd, although there’s room to debate just how much the “L.A-based model- turned-singer” was involved in that endeavor.

I bought that RSD release, a 45th Anniversary edition (so, expect another one in five years?).  I haven’t even taken it out of the wrapper yet so I can’t comment on how it sounds.  I will probably, inevitably do a needledrop of it and share it here.   That “expanded” edition of the original LP plus the Noel record is also being sold together on their store in which, alas, everything is priced in Euros and I assume anything bought there is being shipped from overseas.  Even after all this time, Sparks still have an audience outside of their home turf!

Sparks – No. 1 In Heaven

Label/Cat#: Elektra – 6E-186
Country: US
Year: 1979
Genre: Electronic
Style: Synth-pop, Disco
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Specialty Pressing

A1 – Tryouts For The Human Race (06:06)
A2 – Academy Award Performance (05:01)
A3 – La Dolce Vita (05:55)
B1 – Beat The Clock (04:22)
B2 – My Other Voice (04:55)
B3 – The No. 1 Song In Heaven (07:27)

Total length: 33:46

More information:

Pressed By – Specialty Records Corporation
Recorded At – Musicland Studios
Recorded At – Sound Arts Recording Studio, Los Angeles
Recorded At – Westlake Studios

Backing Vocals – Chris Bennett, Dennis Young (2), Jack Moran
Design – Steven Bartel
Drums – Keith Forsey
Engineer – Giorgio Moroder, Juergen Koppers*
Engineer [Assistant] – Jim Cypherd, Steve Smith*
Engineer [Mix-down Engineer] – Giorgio Moroder
Photography By – Moshe Brakha
Producer – Giorgio Moroder
Programmed By [Synthesizer Programmer] – Dan Wyman
Synthesizer – Giorgio Moroder, Ron Mael
Vocals – Russell Mael

This pressing has Elektra “Butterfly” labels.

Issued with Custom Printed Inner-Sleeve with Lyrics, Credits and Additional Photo.

Recorded at: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany
Sound Arts, Los Angeles
Westlake Studio, Los Angeles

Pressing Plant ID (Label Matrix Suffix): SP
Matrix / Runout (Label Side A): 6E-186-A SP
Matrix / Runout (Label Side B): 6E-186-B SP
Matrix / Runout (Side A -Etched): 6E-186-AS SP 1-1 AZ CB
Matrix / Runout (Side B – Etched): 6E-186-BS SP 1-1 AZ CB


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