6E-186 No. 1 In Heaven
Produced by Giorgio Moroder
Released on 1979
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
6E-186 cover  

E urope was singing its siren’s song in 1979: primal beats couched in robotic trappings that became known as Eurodisco. The international success of its native sons (Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream) and the attraction of high-profile emigres like David Bowie proved strong enough to lure Sparks, who weren’t having much success in their homeland anyway. Teaming with Eurodisco’s primary proponent, Giorgio Moroder, the Mael boys subverted their musical hijinx to Eurodisco’s rigid template of pulsing rhythms and cold arrangements. The result was one of Sparks’ most successful records in Europe, spawning hits in “The No. 1 Song In Heaven,” “Beat The Clock” and “Tryouts For The Human Race.” No. 1 In Heaven was in the right place at the right time, cashing in on the novelty factor of synthesizers and Sparks’ own strangeness. Today, the novelty factor is lost, the synthetic arrangements sound standoffishly mechanical, the groundbreaking production dated and somewhat stale. The robotic vocals of Kraftwerk and Yello meshed better with electronic music than Russell’s masked falsetto, which seems out of place here. If you dig beneath the mechanical mush, you’ll find the old Sparks underneath: “Academy Award Performance” and “Beat The Clock” especially sound like earlier triumphs. And Russell nearly rises above the machines on “La Dolce Vita” when he sings “Goldiggers arise.” But the machines ultimately win this one, which at only six songs seems to further curb their usual enthusiasm. The shift from power pop to Eurodisco is disappointing, but it’s important to note that No. 1 In Heaven is not a commercial sell-out. “Tryouts For The Human Race” is sung from the perspective of sperm, while “The No. 1 Song In Heaven” is transcendently silly. Years from now, this album may claim its share of historical significance as a shining example of Giorgio Moroder’s trademark sound, but among Sparks records this is a damp match.

6E-186 back cover 6E-186 lyric sleeve
6E-186 back cover 6E-186 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. TRYOUTS FOR THE HUMAN RACE    (Ron Mael/Giorgio Moroder/Russell Mael)    6:06
  2. ACADEMY AWARD PERFORMANCE    (Ron Mael)    5:01
  3. LA DOLCE VITA    (Ron Mael/Giorgio Moroder/Russell Mael)    5:55
  4. BEAT THE CLOCK    (Ron Mael/Russell Mael)    4:22
  5. MY OTHER VOICE    (Giorgio Moroder/Ron Mael/Russell Mael)    4:55
  6. THE NO. 1 SONG IN HEAVEN    (Ron Mael/Giorgio Moroder/Russell Mael)    7:27

CREDITS

KEITH FORSEY -- drums
RON MAEL -- synthesizers
RUSSELL MAEL -- vocals
GIORGIO MORODER -- synthesizers, engineer, mix-down engineer
Chris Bennett -- background vocals
Jack Moran -- background vocals
Dennis Young -- background vocals
Dan Wyman -- synthesizer programmer
Juergen Koppers -- engineer
Moshe Brakha -- photography
Steven Bartel -- design

return to SPARKS discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US 1979 Elektra LP/CS 6E-186 lyric sleeve
UK 1979 Virgin LP/CS V2115 inner sleeve
GER 1979 Ariola LP 200 353 320 inner sleeve
UK   Virgin LP OVED 137  
UK/GER   Repertoire CD 4768  

 

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