AFL1-4901 Whomp That Sucker
Produced by Mack
Released on 1981
US CHART POSITION #182
Find it at GEMM
AFL1-4091 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

G iorgio Moroder protégé Mack, who had engineered some immaculate-sounding albums for ELO, fails to deliver the Maels into the same promised land for Whomp That Sucker. The songs themselves are a return to the loopy confections of old, but the production sound is brittle and cranky, and the sum effect similar to the disappointing Oh No, It’s Devo! Also surprising is how little the backing band factors into the final product, providing a fraction of the warmth that the Maels’ mid ‘70s mates mustered. Sparks fans will find plenty to light their imagination but little to burn a torch for: an extraterrestrial affair gone wrong, a safe but smothering girl named Suzie, and a wiggly case of The Willys are only some of Sparks’ concerns. Cowritten by Ron and Russell Mael, Russell wins the battle with the machines this time, his falsetto true to form on “Wacky Women,” “The Willys” and “Funny Face.” At times the subject matter seems unduly dark -- a big game hunter gets bagged by an unfaithful wife on “Don’t Shoot Me,” a model defaces his own mug on “Funny Face” -- but they’re simply dark patches on a lighthearted album that pokes fun at everything from celebrity (the delirious “That’s Not Nastassia”) to teenage angst (“Tips for Teens”). No doubt digital remastering would bring more of the music to light, but Whomp That Sucker would still lack the punchy production of Angst In My Pants (which features almost the exact same lineup). Perhaps Sparks was slow to shake off the robotic sleep of Eurodisco, as this does feel like a transitional album between the Moroder-by-clockwork No. 1 in Heaven and the re-energized Angst. Unfortunately, Sparks slipped back into synthetic music after Angst, the likes of which make Whomp seem inspired by comparison.

AFL1-4091 back cover AFL1-4091 lyric sleeve
AFL1-4091 back cover AFL1-4091 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. TIPS FOR TEENS    3:33
  2. FUNNY FACE    3:24
  3. WHERE'S MY GIRL    3:14
  4. UPSTAIRS    3:40
  5. I MARRIED A MARTIAN    5:12
  6. THE WILLYS    3:58
  7. DON'T SHOOT ME    3:56
  8. SUZIE SAFETY    3:57
  9. THAT'S NOT NASTASSIA    4:57
  10. WACKY WOMEN    2:47

    All songs written by Ron Mael and Russell Mael

CREDITS

LESLIE BOHEM -- bass guitar and additional background vocals
BOB HAAG -- guitar and additional background vocals
DAVID KENDRICK -- drums
MACK -- synthesizer programming and glass shattering, engineer
RON MAEL -- keyboards and synthesizers (Yamaha CS80, Polymoog, Roland JP4, Yamaha Grand, Wurlitzer Electric), cover concept
RUSSELL MAEL -- vocals
Larry Vigon -- art direction and design
Liz Sowers -- photography

return to SPARKS discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
FRA 1981 Underdog LP 67677 inner sleeve
UK 1981 Why-Fi LP/CS WHO1 lyric sleeve
US 1981 RCA Victor LP/CS AFL1-4091 lyric sleeve
GER 1981 Ariola LP 203.355.320  
ITA 1981 Durium LP DA-1-30374  
JPN 1981 RCA LP RPL-8080 picture sleeve, lyric insert
US November 17, 1998 Oglio CD 81601  

 

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