Album review: SPARKS – Past Tense: The Best Of Sparks

SPARKS – Past Tense The Best Of Sparks

BMG [Release date 08.11.19]

For many people of a certain age Sparks are famed for the high vocals and scary looking bloke on the keyboards, yet there is so much more to their music aside from the big hits ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us’, ‘Beat The Clock’ and ‘ The Number One Song in Heaven’. They have influenced many artists through the years (the Darkness, Pulp, Depeche Mode and Faith No More to name but a few) and even did an album with one, Franz Ferdinand under the FFS name (‘Johnny Delusional’ represents that album on this collection).

There was a comprehensive Sparks collection ‘New Music for Amnesiacs: The Essential Collection’ released back in 2013, however this one comes in a 3CD or 2CD set, or a triple LP and the songs have all been hand-picked by the Mael brothers to best epitomise the Sparks from the era they are drawn from.

It is set out in chronological order starting off in 1967 with ‘Computer Girl’, which they recorded as the Urban Renewal Project, through to their latest album 2017’s ‘Hippopotamus’. There are a few rare gems included like ‘Check Out Time 11am’, which was released as a 7” in the US for 2017’s Black Friday Record Store Day and ‘Piss Off’, which is a previously unreleased version of the Sparks doing an FFS song.

There are so many great songs on here be it the cheeky pop of ‘Missionary Position’, ‘Suburban Homeboy’ or the frantic power pop of ‘Tips For Teens’. If you are already a fan this is worth having for the unreleased/different edits of some songs and those new to the band, or only really know Sparks for the ‘big three’ hits, you have a real treat ahead listening to these songs. The 3CD set comes highly recommended of the versions available. ****1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

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