80160-1 Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat
Produced by Ian Little
Released on 1984
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
80160-1 cover
[high resolution scan]
 

T hey pulled something out of somewhere, but ‘tweren’t no rabbit outta no hat. Listening to their last couple of singles, you could have predicted that Sparks would end up making mechanical pop music like this. As with Devo, the unpredictable panoply of subversive hyperpop slowly yielded to smartalecky synthesizer music, much of it quickly repackaged for its ultimate destination on the dancefloor. And so you’ll find extended mixes of “Pretending To Be Drunk” and “Progress” in lieu of proper singles. Not since No. 1 In Heaven had Sparks placed so much emphasis on synthesizers, leaving Russell’s falsetto to play second fiddle to Ron’s symphony of cartoonish sounds. There’s usually one romantic, lump-in-the-throat number on a Sparks album, and here “With All My Might” would get the nod. If you wanted to make a hat trick out of it, score “A Song That Sings Itself” and “Sisters” as winners too, but you really don’t need to hare the rest of it. In their pursuit of complete man-machine fusion, most electronic bands went too far, subverting everything (guitar, drums, vocals) to the synthetic aesthetic. The happy accidents of human manipulation and cooperation were replaced with cold, precalculated keystrokes, a digital dumbing-down of soundwaves into ones and zeros. Sparks has been a synthesizer band for some time, you might say, but it was always balanced with an analog strangeness (“Sextown U.S.A.,” “Rockin’ Girls”) that charmed you into its electronic camp. Those expecting the old magic would do well to consider the disappearing act that followed, effectively ending the band’s major-label career.

80160-1 back cover 80160-1 lyric sleeve
80160-1 back cover 80160-1 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. PULLING RABBITS OUT OF A HAT    4:07
  2. LOVE SCENES    4:20
  3. PRETENDING TO BE DRUNK    3:38
  4. PROGRESS    4:43
  5. WITH ALL MY MIGHT    4:06
  6. SPARKS IN THE DARK (PART ONE)    0:28
  7. EVERYBODY MOVE    2:58
  8. A SONG THAT SINGS ITSELF    4:29
  9. SISTERS    3:53
  10. KISS ME QUICK    4:07
  11. SPARKS IN THE DARK (PART TWO)    2:58

    All songs written by Ron Mael and Russell Mael

CREDITS

LESLIE BOHEM -- bass guitar, background vocals
BOB HAAG -- Endodyne guitars, Roland guitar synthesizers, background vocals
DAVID KENDRICK -- drums
RON MAEL -- all synthesizers (Roland JP-8, Yamaha DX-7, Fairlight), cover concept
RUSSELL MAEL -- vocals
JOHN THOMAS -- additional concert keyboards
Steve Bates -- engineer
Brian Reeves -- mixing
Dave Bianco -- mixing
Mick Guzauski -- mixing
Stan Watts -- cover illustration
Larry Vigon -- art direction and design
Jim Shea -- photography

return to SPARKS discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US 1984 Atlantic LP/CS 80160 lyric sleeve
UK/CAN 1984 Atlantic LP/CS 78 01601/4 lyric sleeve
ARG 1984 Atlantic LP 83828  
POR 1984 Edisom LP 627903  
US November 17, 1998 Oglio CD 81604  

 

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