Kimono My House / Sparks

Kimono My House

Kimono My House

Vocals: Russel Mael; keyboards: Ron Mael;  guitar: Adrian Fisher; bass: Martin Gordon; drums: Dinky Diamond

You like Moles? Well, you’re in the right place, there are hundreds of the buggers hereabouts. Well, two. Kimono My House was recorded in 1973. It’s unearthly beauty remains undimmed with the assistance of wigs and other prosthetic devices. Take a bit of butch guitar, add some helium vocals and one-finger cabaret piano, douse liberally in opinionatedness, light the touch-paper and retire (but not literally). When this proves successful, replace non-compliant components in an effort to stem the tidal hit-wave. When this also proves successful, go back down your burrow for four decades. Emerge fortified with assiduous essayists and masterful mastering technicians and celebrate the 40th birthday of KMH. Credit the other musicians in the UK, but not in Murica where nobody is listening anyway.

You see? It’s so simple really. Essential Mole details are here.

  • This Town Ain’t Big Enough promo video with helpful subtitles:

137 thoughts on “Kimono My House / Sparks

  1. Molly

    Well, they did fix it and sehr schnell after you got in touch. You underestimate the power and reach of KMH. My neighbour’s offspring is 19 and he loves it.

    If it happens again just let me know. I live in Amsterdam, I can nip over the border and play them “Introducing Sparks” on a loop until they give in and fix it. Shouldn’t take long.

    Reply
    1. Molly

      Said neighbour’s kid is a Brit music fanatic. I gave him about 20 copies of albums (legal copies, I think, but sans royalties what do you care). Everything from Kinks to Specials. He told me favs in order. Have forgotten most already but I remember top 3.

      1. Kimono
      2. Hunky Dory
      3. The Clash/London’s Calling.

      Smart kid denk ik.

      Reply
          1. Molly

            Can’t reply to your reply (your link is hiding the wee reply thingy) so will reply to mine. Jeez, kraut technology sure went downhill since the Messerschmitt and the VW beetle.

            Yes, I do, something that stops something getting through……so to speak.

            I thought you were implying I was forcing my music tastes on him. Mea culpa. The one doesn’t expect kind words from the WWW.

            I would come out of the cupboard but it appears to be stuck.

          1. MG

            And in fact I miss the gatekeepers, who kept the tsunamis of crap, whether musical or media, at bay. Today, unmoderated, the crap deluge is unabated and omnipresent.

          2. Molly

            I simply don’t listen to or watch the crap. I am woefully and blissfully ignorant of today’s “music”. Couldn’t name a single song by any of the people who are considered superstars today. I am the Jethro Tull of music.

          3. MG

            Ah, I understand. You are the Gentle Giant of being able to publish your reply under the appropriate heading, or not. I also find this to be the case, despite at least nominally having set the entire thing up.

          4. Molly

            Had to look up Gentle Giant. Wasn’t big on prog rock so they passed me by.

            The responses appear to come up where they please. Well done on setting up a site with AI.

          5. MG

            Despite referencing Jethro Tull, you disclaim all knowledge of prog music. Therefore you are an agronomist and I claim my five pounds.

          6. Molly

            Never said I had no knowledge of prog rock, just that I wasn’t big on it. Seemed to me to be self indulgent and like “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” had too many notes.

            Perhaps I am just not arty enough to appreciate it. As a certain curly haired one said of Indiscreet “Of course it is self indulgent, we are artists, we are meant to be self indulgent.” Gawd bless his humble socks.

            I will happily give you a fiver. Cheap for all the pleasure KMH has given me over the years. I will even round it up to 6 euros.

          7. Molly

            Lordy. I was directed to a site called “All You Ever Think About Is Sparks” Your 2020 podcast is there.

            Site too weird to comment on off the cuff.

            And I mean weird. Fanatics gibbering on about Urban Renewal Project, tracking down early acetates of 4 songs, what songs Russell played bass on, Japan has an pink copy of a single while the rest of the world has blue, all said with the reverential tones of historians pondering the last hours of Herculaneum. FFS dudes, they are still alive and well….why not just ask them?

            This hitherto untapped minefield of the absurd means, alas, you won’t quite get rid of me.

            Your podcast deserves more than to be grouped into such nonsense so I will respond to it…when I can string a coherent thingy together although given the peccadilloes of this site it could well end up under the privacy policy.

          8. MG

            Finally I understand that (maybe) the reply is connected to the first entry in the sequence. Let me see…

          9. MG

            Plus you can’t ‘just ask them’ as if they were regular ol’ humans! Moles are not to be soiled by mortal hand, didn’t you know? Do keep up!

          10. Molly

            “Plus you can’t just ask them as ‘tho they were regular ‘ol humans…”

            Ha! It would appear to be the case. Some Dutch guy that has spent the best part of his life Sherlock Holming the early incarnations of the Maels got to meet them eventually. He didn’t ask a single question, just waffled incoherently for a few minutes before the objects of his obsession were gone from his life forever.

            Sad, weird and utterly hilarious.

  2. Molly

    Right Captcha, let’s try this again. Bear in mind if you try to upstage me (by, for example, posting this plus my original reply) you will be summarily dismissed.

    Shame, I liked the idea of you and Ron arguing over the scale of the Stonehenge prop. I would, of course, have used that counter reference earlier but, having contacted you while a bit too full of the milk of human Pinot, I determined to make up for earlier folly by playing it straight.

    I don’t suppose you would care to elaborate with a couple of examples of “self-aggrandisement”? Probably not or you would have done so. Yet, one can ask.

    I do not doubt your custard pie recollections yet simply find it hard to imagine the Maels putting unrefined sugar in their mouths. To me it seems that the image (more than the lyrics) was, indeed, “the thing”. The only pic I have seen of the young ‘uns on the net shows (if you will forgive the un PC terminology) two wee, rather chubby brothers.

    I cannot imagine what it must have been like for you, as a kid barely out of his teens, to go from TOTP to “thanks but no thanks anyway” and the way it was done is doubly shameful. It is to your credit that you can talk about this time at all, albeit if only to slag them off. I doubt I could be so mature.

    Your description, “the singer” is not lost on me.

    Reply
    1. Martin Gordon Post author

      Re: custard pies – the walking to the custard pie shop was communal, but the actual consumption was not undertaken by all band members. So your heroes are off the sugar-hook there.

      As for your Q2: yes, I remember thinking during rehearsals that the results, with the exception of a couple of dud tunes, were pretty spectacular. Hewlett also referred to his impression of rehearsal visits in an interview he gave, which is somewhere on the Sparks bit of this labyrinthine site. But it being my first band, I assumed that this was how things usually were. I’m not sure that Adrian was particularly enamoured of it, except for the outros where he could dig out some widdly-widdly. Dinky was of course all things to all men.

      Reply
      1. Molly

        Shocked re the custard pies. I assumed you had people who had people to fetch them for you. Walking too, no limo. You sound just like normal people, how sad.

        Doesn’t sound like it was Adrian’s style of music. Maybe that’s why he got the chop?

        It is my favourite album of all time. It still sounds fresh today. I like some tracks more than others but no duds imho, nothing I want to skip. I know you and Adrian have said that your ideas were not accepted but to me it is perfect. It is their only album where the guitars don’t sound as ‘tho they snuck in by accident particularly the bass. Your playing on Kimono is superb. What idiots they were.

        Just think if your ideas had been accepted. It could have gone all the way to 11 maybe even 12.

        Reply
        1. Martin Gordon Post author

          Just to clarify, I must say that most of my ideas were accepted, it’s just that a few fell by the wayside. ‘Complaints’, for example, fell prey to Removed-Coda Syndrome, but most other suggestions made it through. The TTABEFBOU riff and middle section, for example, were snapped up, and many others besides. How, indeed, could they not be? With the exception of ‘In My Family’, which remained firmly stuck in its arrangement by the earlier band, and from which it could not be prised loose, despite my best efforts.

          But, on the downside, we had to fetch our own custard tarts. Life is very unfair, sometimes.

          I will address the sexy issue of Q3 shortly.

          Reply
          1. Molly

            Weird, In My Family is my least favourite track. Thank you for clarification. You are spared reading a long reply as your site on my puter has gone all 127.0.0.1 error on me and my phone keyboard is tiny.

            Hum, yours is only website doing this…….perhaps R&R have cottoned on to me.

  3. Molly

    I have 4 questions none of which, alas , are particularly intelligent. Nevertheless as I want to know the answers they do have some merit for me.

    1. Was there any point in your time with Sparks that it actually felt like a band i.e. a group of chaps having fun, going for a pint together after rehearsals…that sort of stuff? Of course, never having been in a band, I am only guessing at what may be considered “normal” for bands to do.

    2. Did you know at the time that you were making something brilliant?

    3. How did Island records manage to legally weasel out of paying you royalties? Was it something in the small print on page 327, para 2, clause 4?

    4. Have you been asked to participate in this up and coming documentary about Sparks? That will say a lot about whether it will actually “document” or merely flatter.

    Reply
    1. MG

      On the contrary, all of these questions I would classify as ‘intelligent’, and so I will prepare suitable answers. Derek Smalls would be proud of such an interrogatory. Stay tuned!

      Reply
    2. MG

      1: No. There were some communal dinners, but always with an agenda, and that agenda was one of self-aggrandisement, as I would now describe it. We once ate custard tarts during a rehearsal break, does that count? But I also had never been in a band, and so I was unaware of what I was missing. All that ‘band fun’ stuff came along much later, with Jet and Radio Stars.

      I did actually meet up with the singer a couple of years later in a Kings Road pub, and I presented him with a copy of the latest Radio Stars album. No idea why – I was probably looking for some kind of reaffirmation. At this point the issues of Q3 had not yet arisen.

      Reply
      1. Molly

        Testing…..I did indeed stay tuned and replied within hours of your reply. My reply did not show up yet, when I tried to repost my said reply, Capita told me I had already made that comment and I would I kindly do one.

        Shame, as I thought my spontaneous reply not without humour and merit. I will avidly watch the teeny, tiny, temper tantrums of Capita and when I think they have been rescued from the cupboard will set out my reply all over again.

        Reply
    3. MG

      So anyway… “Q3. How did Island records manage to legally weasel out of paying you royalties? Was it something in the small print on page 327, para 2, clause 4?”

      Since you ask, the band’s manager John Hewlett (q.v., although whether this is A Good Thing or otherwise is still unresolved) told me some choice lies about MCPS payment schedules, indicating that I might receive any payments that “might be” due from the sales of KMH in “about ten year’s time”. He then helpfully offered an alternative scenario, whereby I would just sign over all my artist royalties in perpetuity to Island Records in return for an immediate buy-out, and he produced such a document which he just happened to have in his pocket. Since Hewlett was my manager as an individual as well as a band member, there was some conflict of interest here.

      I signed the doc and received the proffered pay-off, some 3.5K pounds. Ironically (but not in the Alanis Morrissette sense) I later discovered from accounts helpfully provided to me by (later band member) Trevor White that, even when I signed the waiver, my account was significantly in credit. I later discovered, fortunately for Hewlett and unfortunately for me, that fraud was protected by a statute of limitations (12 years in the case of so-called aggravated fraud) and that legal action was, by that time, no longer possible.

      It remains unclear whether this ingenious notion was the brainchild of Californians, Hewlett, the record company in the person of MD David Betteridge, or an unholy combination of all. Gold records for KMH were presented to all (ok, most) interested parties, and also to some who who were less involved. Oddly, my gold record never made it across London to me. However, 45 years later, I found myself in London collecting my gold disc. The speeches at the acceptance ceremony went as follows: (BPI rep): “Have you brought your credit card?”. (Me): “Yes”.

      And we all lived (more or less) happily ever after. You are no doubt familiar with this: https://martingordon.de/sparks/kimono-gold/.

      Reply
      1. Molly

        Thank you for responding. That was a cheap trick, cheap in the sense that your share of royalties would hardly have impoverished anyone else. There must have been tons of money swirling around off the back of KMH and presumably R&R as co-writers would have received the bulk of the royalties anyway……. after the record company of course.

        My wild guess is that it was a record company lawyer that thought up the scheme to buy you out. They are all sharks. Such a pity you were too young to think to get your own lawyer before signing anything. Sorry, I am sure you have told yourself that all too often.

        From reading that book and your site it seems John Hewlett did not see himself as the band’s manager so much as R&R’s personal manager/fanboy. Ironic because if he had been a better manager Sparks would have been/remained a massive band. He screwed you and the other non compliants but, in the long run, he also screwed R&R by being such a patsy. Still, his loyalty was kindly repaid when they later sacked him. Karma seems to follow the Maels around like the fifth horseman of the apocalypse.

        Yes, I read the gold disc saga. I can’t believe folk have to pay for them, funny and tragic at the same time.

        Interestingly (well, not to you obviously) Russell cites Indiscreet as his favourite album of their 70’s period yet the predominant artwork in his living room is a framed poster advertising KMH. It is one of the many “pretentious” versus “reality” contradictions of R&R. Also predominant is a gold disc, presumably for KMH. Maybe he hasn’t been told it went platinum or maybe he is too cheap to pay again.

        I don’t think they have given a concert or tv/radio appearance in the following 47 years where they have not played This Town. You said somewhere on here that without KMH they could not have continued to have a career (well, somebody said something like that.) I agree, without KMH as the bedrock they would never have been given the dosh to make Propaganda much less the very expensive Indiscreet. They would, long since, have had to go and get proper jobs…..no offence!

        You just have to keep reminding yourself that you were 1/5 responsible for one of the best (imo THEE best) albums of all time. It says so, right there, on the sleeve.

        Reply
      2. Molly

        Damn. When I first got the redirect site 3 days ago I thought it was me so I Googled then embarked on all manner of “fix my puter stuff” using “cmd”. I emptied caches, history, god knows what I did but HAL got all effed up. He does not appreciate this!

        Still, at least I now know not to touch “cmd” and “prompt” ever again and I have a shiny new Facebook account.

        And all it needed was one word from you to your service provider.

        Reply
        1. MG

          Yes, but my service providers are not so impressed by my bass playing on a 46-year-old album that they will interrupt their weekend to fix my possible tech issues, especially when the unwashed hordes are storming the Reichstag. They (not the unwashed hordes, but the other lot) are probably right now nude bathing in leather underwear while drinking steins of lager. Honestly, some people…

          Reply
    4. MG

      And finally, and probably completely randomly in terms of site architecture, my response to the famous Q4, which went:

      4. Have you been asked to participate in this up and coming documentary about Sparks? That will say a lot about whether it will actually “document” or merely flatter.

      I was asked. I responded affirmatively and we discussed dates, but I also asked for the director’s perspective, indicating that a documentary-style thing would be right up my street but a misty-eyed fan-boy thing would probably not. To throw some light on my probable stance, I pointed them at this website. Well, guess what happened next…

      Reply
      1. Molly

        Ah! I am pleased they even asked you, didn’t think they would.

        As I suspected, it will be a fluff piece. Video clips in all their glory interspersed with celebs gushing about them. I doubt R&R would have agreed to participate if it had been anything else. Director is obviously coming at it from the point of view of a fanboy and not a documentary maker.
        Such a shame as the warts ‘n all story would have been far more interesting. A missed opportunity given neither they (nor us) will be around forever. I hope you have documented your time with Sparks…for posterity.

        They must be one of the few “bands” if not the only band to have top 10 albums 46 years apart and with all new stuff, not the “Best of….” compilations bands trot out when they need a new swimming pool. I think ASDDD (with the exception of the last slightly nauseating track) is the best thing thing they have done since KMH. Remarkable for guys in their 70’s.

        I have never understood if their famous “give only name, rank and serial number” is a carefully constructed image or if they are just plain weird (even by Californian standards). Maybe a bit of both? As they seem to have spent their entire lives making albums they can’t have much of a private life to be secretive about anyway.

        Thank you, as always, for replying.

        PS I wonder if R&R have read your site……probably. That must have brought on an attack of the vapours to eclipse the cupboard incident.

        Reply
        1. MG

          I have always found people who are professionally enigmatic, without one single exception, to have made the right choice… (he said enigmatically).

          Reply
          1. MG

            Well, admiration depends upon how firmly the auto-enigmat sticks to his (or indeed her) strategy. Screeds of tedious waffle tend to diminish admiration, of course.

      2. Molly

        Anyway, about your podcast. I loved it. Didn’t know most of it.

        End of waffle.

        Probably not true, I will get pissed one night and waffle on about your podcast ad tedium.

        Reply
        1. Molly

          Have to now do my replies in Word and copy and paste ’em here. They either appear 3 times or not at all.

          It’s like the Battle of Britain all over again but with a different outcome.

          So much in your podcast thingy. My first thought was…is that Richard Branson? My second, he reads the Guardian? The rest, God knows. My humour, like yours, is caustic as in soda.

          Reply
      3. Molly

        This site is definitely a non benign gatekeeper, more a reverse Maginot line.

        As I said, I enjoyed listening to your podcast, something of a trip down memory lane for me. I begin to slightly understand why some folk get so obsessed with trying to track down obscure facts about the subjects of their obsession. Not understand per se, more like the door opened a crack and one can see a certain sanity behind the insanity. Having started with a book I found myself disappearing down all sorts of rabbit holes as link begat link. Hours pass before you manage to shake yourself out of your quite enjoyable stupor and tell yourself, “Get off the effin net”.

        One such rabbit hole was you. First your site then interviews then the podcast. I admit, since I bought KMH in 1974, I have looked at the sleeve once or twice and I cannot square the pic of you with your voice. Not that I consciously spent 46 years determining band member’s accents, more that you get an impression and that impression sticks. I would have categorically stated that you had a Wessex accent and here you are on the wrong side of the country and not even in a fictional county. After all these years of certainty I am quite prepared to believe it is you that is wrong, not I. Speaking of sleeves, I disagree with you, I think the pic they used, while not your choice, is very cute.

        Odd that I should decry prog rock because you reminded me that, like you, I was also listening to Yes at the time. I still occasionally listen to Fragile and Close to the Edge. Some tracks have stood the test of time, most have not. You said you don’t listen to KMH. Is that in the same way some actors won’t watch themselves on screen or more because of “events dear boy”? It’s a shame because I find that even my early hero, Bowie, sounds dated now while KMH sounds as fresh as a daisy.

        I had forgotten the work of Radio Stars until I heard you again on the podcast then I remembered Immediately. At the time I grouped you with the Buzzcocks as I thought the sound similar. That may be an insult, I don’t know, but in my defence I liked both bands. They actually sacked you from your own band? Lady Bracknell would have something to say about that.

        I agree with your younger self regarding politics and the arts. Yes, there have always been protest songs, Vietnam, the Corn Laws etc. but I do not like the increasing trend of artists in all mediums dishing up their art with a side helping of their world view. I can barely tolerate the views of actual politicians and I have never understood why any artist would wish to alienate half their potential audience. Maybe I just don’t find my political views earth shattering enough to assume the rest of the world gives a feck.

        Had no idea we were near neighbours, just thought you used a .de site for convenience (convenience…..ha!). I agree with you, one expects people who look the same to be the same. While The Dutch are not as different as the Germans they are still very different although my biggest shock was the time I spent in the US. Individually nice people, collectively from a different planet.

        Which brings us to the S word. Interesting tale re Chris Townson versus the curly one. Another example of the contradiction. Just about everyone gushes at how polite the bewigged ones are yet that anecdote……who does that? Even if John’s Children were a crock of shit (I don’t know, never listened to them) you don’t say that to the founder’s face, just plain arrogant and rude. Imagine it said the other way round, the hissy fit would have been off the scale. I presume John Hewlett was happy to sit there being insulted. Strange boy.

        It is interesting to hear you being interviewed by Spark’s fans. They ask you straight up questions about your time with them but then almost always interrupt with a secondary question/comment as ‘tho subconsciously they really don’t want to hear anything too awful. Not that you would, for all your sarcasm on your site you have never said anything awful about the Maels. You say they wanted complete control of the process and that Russell was more than a little enamoured of his own looks. Well, those aren’t exactly awful (or untrue) things to say. It is well known (by now) they want complete control of their output and frankly if I had been a bloke that looked the way Russell did in the 70’s I would have wanted a mirror too. That is why I think it odd that the documentary makers did not pursue you even after looking at your site. They must surely know that R&R are not your favourite humans but you do not dish up awful anecdotes about them and have also given them credit where you think it is due.

        You say that it was good to meet up with Adrian years later, he being the other serious musician. Is that “guitarist’s conceit” or did you really not consider R, R and Dinky as serious musicians? I know Adrian has been scathing of his whole time with them saying he never took it seriously and went out of his way to annoy R&R but I don’t doubt they were serious. Plus, I think Dinky’s drumming on KMH was perfect and pretty damn good on the two follow ups.

        Thank you for being a very entertaining rabbit hole. I have learned a lot since I opened that book a few short weeks ago and not just about Sparks. On the one hand it’s very interesting, on the other, (as someone who just liked the music and didn’t delve too deeply into events) I feel a bit like Sinatra………And then I go and spoil it all by reading something stupid like……

        Reading the comments below podcast, did you really go onto a Sparks fansite and troll them? You little tinker you.

        Reply
        1. MG

          OK, step by step. Wessex accent, sleeve pic:

          Wessex accent: you think I should have been a sort of yokel-type person? Sucking a piece of straw, wearing a battered deer-stalker, sawing moodily on a violin, hind legs of a sheep stuck down the Wellington boots sort of thing? I admit I did briefly flirt with the possibilities of the retarded village-idiot image but decided, some may think wisely, against it. The fans don’t go for that sort of thing very much, I was advised by career professionals.

          Choice of pic: whilst I am not on the topic of sound professional advice, I admit I have in later years (46 of them) come around to your way of thinking about the selected pic. However, and it is a big however, why present someone with the notion of choice if , when push comes to shove, no choice is offered? In this, as in so much else, efficient handling of human resources played almost no role. But I suppose, as a music-biz beginner, it was my mistake to take anybody’s expressed opinion at face value, whether offered by people from the colonies or closer to home.

          Reply
          1. Molly

            Hardy is full of intelligent, educated and witty people. You’re thinking of Last of the Summer Wine.

            They probably just thought the retarded, straw sucking, country bumpkin will be too dumb to notice we swapped the pic.

        2. Martin Gordon Post author

          As for Yes/Radio Stars: Close to the Edge certainly still does the business for me, in fact all 3 tunes from that rockin’ opus. I don’t listen to my own old stuff as I know it too well. And the only Lady-Bracknell-related insight I gained from all this is there aren’t half some bloody idiots stumbling around the place. But this is no great revelation, of course.

          Reply
          1. Molly

            I like both albums although can’t really class myself as a Yes fan. I skip too many bits, like the long intro to Heart of the Sunrise, to get to the main tune. As I said, too many notes. Btw, what is the technical term for “main tune”?

            We are as one on the subject of idiots. Sadly with the invention of the WWW their presence is even more noticeable. The quantity of garbage spouted seems to be indirectly proportional to intellect. I can only assume that, as a species, we are devolving. Soon it will be cave dwellings, kipper ties and the Rubettes.

          2. Molly

            Yeah, I just looked up “neo-Hegelian” (not being an artiste darling, one doesn’t keep up)……but, yeah, you’re right….ish.

        3. Martin Gordon Post author

          Politics vs. the arts:

          To be frank, and I am, I have no time today for those who say ‘Let’s keep politics out of pop music’. If you (i.e. they) are so deluded as to imagine that these are two discrete categories, then I will file you (i.e. them) under cabaret and probably never inflict your (i.e. their) shrill caterwauling on my synapses ever again.

          JC and Hewlett’s failure to rise to the bait:

          He was, despite the name, merely a passenger in the band, and I imagine he knew it, hence his passivity when JC were being abused.

          Mole-fan-trolling:

          Actually it was via some ‘official’ forum, and I imagine it’s all still there for excavation. I declared, under my alter ego, that I was a proper bastard, having once met me and experienced the bastardness first hand whereupon, unpredictably, all those people who were previously attacking now changed their position and began to repel the upstart. It all got rather complicated, so I outed myself and trolled off back to the non-Mole world where things were much more straightforward. This was well before Brexit, of course, so I use the term advisedly.

          Reply
          1. Molly

            Thank you very much for the time you have taken to reply to me. It’s very interesting to hear these things from one who actually knows.

            I never said “let’s keep politics out of music” merely that I am not interested. I used to be quite active politically until I realised it was only damaging my well being……being angry all the time.

            And I never caterwaul, shrilly or otherwise. Unlike some, I just can’t reach the high notes.

          2. Molly

            I had “flu”, which was annoying yet not, as I am told, life threatening like “man flu” is.

            I finished the second book. More later but just wanted to say your description of the warm atmosphere during rehearsals is hilarious. I laughed out loud.

          3. Molly

            I have a confession to make. When I said you replying to me was the equivalent of Joe Strummer liking my Doc Martins it was very true but I missed a wee bit. Firstly, when I was 14, I went on a date (one time only) with a wee guy I met at a Radio One roadshow with Kid Jensen. His name was Jim, or as he later styled himself, Midge. I even remember the film. It was a godawful movie called “Willard” about a rat. Still, he knows what it is like to be No.2 to a fecking awful No.1.

            Second, when young I favoured a nearby watering hole as it did not give a flying feck what age you were. When I look back I think that smoking weed in the grounds of said watering hole with Pete Capaldi and Craig Ferguson is not entirely normal yet it is to me. Glasgow is a big city but a very small community.

            I posted this simply as a test (bollocks, Molly, it is a boast) to see in what weird and wonderful place it ends up.

          4. MG

            Sorry to hear the thing about the wee thing. There’s just no telling with some people, I suppose. And I imagine he was wearing a kilt, just to add insult to injury. What a carry-on.

            In terms of where these things end up, believe me, I’m as baffled as you are. And I’m even a German. Sort of.

          5. Molly

            Re Midge, I was 14/15……..get your filthy mind gone.

            Re book……Oy Vey!!

            Re you, funny as hell.

            I now have to write a witty riposte. Just think, 8 weeks ago I thought Sparks where just some guys whose music I liked….

            ……that land of lost content.

          6. Molly

            I just wondered, assuming you ever see this post in all the spaghetti (mostly mine I grant you) I have been listening to the Tindersticks again.

            What are your favourite bands?

        4. Martin Gordon Post author

          And as for ‘serious musicians’, I suppose I mean those to whom content is as important as style. Adrian was one of those. Dinky tended towards competence and ensuring that his wages would paid, and the Moles were, or so I felt, slaves to style, even though it was of their own definition.

          In a Hewlett-inspired inspired piece of manipulation, Adrian, Chris Townson, Andy Ellison and myself were persuaded to rehearse for a few days to see if ‘John’s Children 1976’ might have legs. It turned out to be legless, in more ways than one, but that was OK as the repertoire only had one chord anyway. As this was pretty much the Radio Stars line-up of a few months later with a different guitarist, it no doubt helped me to firm up my opinions about the next step.

          Reply
          1. Molly

            Adrian said something similar about Dinky, that he was just sort of there. I think he sounded great and I noticed on clips of early performances (apart from Ron’s posed smile/leer) Dinky was the only one that ever smiled. Like he was actually enjoying himself. The rest, including Russell, look as though they are being slowly tortured. How much of that was image and how much of it was actual torture (i.e. having to perform together) you would know better than I. Dinky must have been gutted when they dispensed with him too.

            I think Adrian was in the wrong band from the start. I even felt a bit sorry for Russell on one of the clips. He does that thing I see a lot of front men doing, going from band member to band member and singing beside them for a bit. I presume that is so they get a bit of camera time? He gets to Adrian sort of smiles at him and Adrian just completely ignores him, even turns away. Russell has no choice but to quickly “dance” away from him trying not to look embarrassed. Must have been such fun times. Yet, as you allude to yourself, despite the tensions…or because of them…. the 5 of you created something truly special.

            I get the impression that R&R are deadly serious about the music, so much so that they suck all the fun out of the room for everyone else. Plus they seem to have spent their whole adult lives making one album after another. They even say that is pretty much the only important thing in life for them. Women, cars and other earthly trappings are way down the list.

            I do agree about the image. They seem to have always been unduly (obsessively) concerned about that, that they are perceived in a certain way. They say they don’t talk about themselves because they want the music to speak for them….well, let it in…..stop wittering on with one whopper after another and continually contradicting yourselves. Only recently Ron said that Russell was the “sex symbol” of the band although Russell would hate him saying that implying he was a reluctant one. Yeah right, that would be why he is barely a minute into This Town on TOTP before he sneakily flicks open his jacket belt to allow us to ogle his bare chest. Plus the cover of Big Beat just screams “I’m a serious musician not a sex symbol”. I think it’s actually okay to be both but to hear them speak the 14 year old girls that bought their albums and paid to see them live were just annoyances preventing them from reaching a more “intellectual” audience. Cheek! Those wee girls paid for your houses and your cars you ungrateful sods.

            I was really surprised to see that about you, John Hewlett and Radio Stars. I would have thought after Sparks sacked you that you would never want to see or hear from him again except to, perhaps, do as your JC friend did to the curly one. Didn’t like to ask but now you have mentioned it…why did you?

          2. Martin Gordon Post author

            Well, Hewlett was always very plausible, for one thing, and secondly, in 1976, I was still gaining an understanding of performance royalties, artist royalties, collecting societies, payment schedules and the like. It was still a work in progress, which took another couple of years to fully figure out. Had the rehearsal happened two years later, I would have adopted the CT strategy.

          3. Molly

            Why didn’t you pursue Island/Hewlett while still within the statute of limitations? Never mind, I will answer my own question….because they had much deeper pockets for lawyers. If the answer is more interesting than that I will, of course, be delighted to hear it.

            Seems to me the Sparks juggernaut has been very lucky trundling on with very little resistance from those it mowed down in it’s wake. I never understood why 3/5 of the original band did not object to the continued use of the name by the 2/5, especially as they only found out they were no longer a band when their so called friends were half way across the Atlantic. I would have done it just for the hell of it but maybe that says more about me than them.

            When I ordered that book I also ordered its “companion piece”. Having read the first I was determined not to compound my error but, what have you, I have already started it. No doubt you will be treated to a further wittering when I have finished. Bet you can’t wait (although as a statement of good intent I have already broken the spine in an effort to read your ridiculously placed mini bio.)

            Loving this German game of hunt the comment.

          4. Molly

            Oh…. re the trolling of Sparkies, or whatever they call themselves, I will never look for that.

            The comments below YouTube clips are bad enough and make me despair of the future of mankind. Plus, having liked Sparks since 1973, I hate all the “also rans” declaring they first heard them and were wowed in the 1980’s.

            See? I can out snob R&R any day of the week.

          5. Molly

            Yes, I am fully aware I am now replying to myself. Nevertheless, I thought your words worthy of more response. I have just listened to some of my fav YouTube clips and now I see your comment of style versus substance in another light. (If indeed you said that).
            I just watched (for the nth time) the Small Faces “Tin Soldier” with PP Arnold.

            Serious, substance, style, brilliant, beautiful, fucking perfect.
            (Yes, the cuss word is courtesy of the Pinot Valley and it is effin proud of it.)

          6. Martin Gordon Post author

            Not to get all neo-Hegelian on yo ass but you could say that the Small Faces reached synthesis, whereas some get stuck on antithesis (or even never make it past thesis).

  4. MG

    Well, if you ask an intelligent question, I will attempt to provide an intelligent response. If you ask a silly question, I will respond in similar vein. As Derek Smalls perceptively noted, there is a fine line between clever and stupid.

    Reply
  5. Molly

    Martin, this (Sparks) sub forum site leads me to think it is now so much tumblewood yet I hope you read this. I was a fan before Kimono. At 14 my friend’s brother had got hold of a copy of Woofer. I could not stop playing Moon Over Kentucky, Russell’s vocals may have been helium but what helium. Two years later we had Kimono. I thought it brilliance. It was so tight I thought the band has rehearsed for a 100 years. When they brought out the “Big Boy” stuff I died inside. I had no idea about the history. In fairness to R and R I could say having lived and died over success before Kimono they were, at that point, desperate, yet for a duo capable of near genius they were incapable of seeing the “big picture”. They sacked their biggest strength and went off to Rollercoaster and Russell singing like Mick Jagger in his “wife beater” shirt (thanks, to a guy on YouTube for that description) and a 1/4 full stadiums and…oblivion.

    It is so sad, doubly sad because Ronnie and Russ will never admit they put a foot wrong. Their fanatical fan club has rewritten history. I was there. I know.

    You were “Sparks” as much as R and R the rest of the “throw aways” I hear it ever time I play KM. I love Sparks but I also love the anecdote of Russell in the cupboard. It is (to quote their favourite band (depending on who they speak with)) ….instant karma.

    Reply
    1. MG

      Tumblewood? Isn’t that somewhere on the Circle line? Whatever. ‘Throwaway’ – now there was an interesting Radio Stars tune. But for a witness to the cupboard event, you would have to dig out some other old Sparks throwaway, I’m afraid.

      Tumble on!

      Reply
      1. Molly

        OMG.

        I honestly thought you had killed this forum. The idea that anyone who played on Kimono actually replied to me is just orgasmic. Also, you write so well. You are like Ron Mael…caustic, funny and intelligent………………… if that comparison does not make you weep.

        Let’s get back to the orgasmic. I would ask you a million questions but I fear if I do you will disappear and I will have imagined the bass player from Sparks actually talked to me.

        Please don’t tell me the cupboard thing is one of those urban legends. I can visualise it too much for it not to be true. He was beautiful but I always suspected he was a crier.

        I am going to take a whole day to think up a reasonably intelligent question so you won’t think I am a twat and not reply.

        In 1980 I got Joe Strummer’s autograph outside the Glasgow Apollo and he said he liked my boots. This is right up there man!!

        Reply
        1. MG

          Well, it’s not a forum, dear, it’s just a bunch of comments. But feel free to ask away!

          The Cupboard Incident was true, according to my old pal Adrian, but unfortunately I was not around to witness the teeny tiny temper tantrum: https://martingordon.de/sparks/adrian-fisher-1/

          If you would like my opinion of your boots, you will of course have to describe them.

          Reply
          1. Molly

            Did I say “OMG the bass player on Kimono?”…..yeah, I think we did that. Now I will have to think of a really intelligent question to ask you.

            Fucking pressure man.

            Still…..the bass player on Kimono………

      2. Molly

        OMG.

        I honestly thought you had killed this forum. The idea that anyone who played on Kimono actually replied to me is just orgasmic. Also, you write so well. You are like Ron Mael…caustic, funny and intelligent………………… if that comparison does not make you weep.

        Let’s get back to the orgasmic. I would ask you a million questions but I fear if I do you will disappear and I will have imagined the bass player from Sparks actually talked to me.

        Please don’t tell me the cupboard thing is one of those urban legends. I can visualise it too much for it not to be true. He was beautiful but I always suspected he was a crier.

        I am going to take a whole day to think up a reasonably intelligent question so you won’t think I am a twat and not reply.

        In 1980 I got Joe Strummer’s autograph outside the Glasgow Apollo and he said he liked my boots. This is right up there man!!

        Reply
      3. Molly

        I just looked back at the old pics and watched the vid where you got your own back on the younger Mael (how perceptive of you) by shooting him. I have read on various sources that John Hewlett said R&R were intimidated by you. I can see now what I had no idea of when I was 16. You nearly out prettied the pretty boy and certainly out cooled him.

        Have I saved myself from rookie double post hell? Will you reply if I ask you a serious question about the music?

        Reply
        1. Martin Gordon Post author

          I have often found that getting your own back on people by shooting them is quite effective, if drastic. But sometimes there’s just no other option, you know what I mean?

          Reply
          1. Molly

            While I think of my “intelligent” question this will stay with me forever….

            “Their 1974 performance of ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us’ gave the British public permission to adore them…..”

            Sublime. Just sublime.

        1. Molly

          I see that even the site owner’s posts show up in unintended places. So much for “voorsprog door techniek”.

          It makes the already somewhat bizarre thread completely incomprehensible.

          Love it!

          Reply

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