THE SPARKS BROTHERS
UNLIKELY bedfellows they may be, but Steve Jones, Bjork, Mike Myers, Bernard Butler and Andy Bell among many others all make important and relevant contributions to Edgar Wright’s music documentary, ‘The Sparks Brothers,’ currently on general release.
Ignore the sneering, borderline patronising reviews from certain UK broadsheets where the brothers Mael have been lazily dismissed as a, “relatively obscure beat combo,” and enjoy the beautiful glimpse into the world of two of music’s most loveable, humble mavericks.
The film is exactly what I’ve been telling anyone within earshot for the past 20 years, that Ron and Russell deserve to be remembered for more than just ‘that’ song.
Forever inventive and musically diverse, resolutely avoiding any mainstream trend – and thus perhaps becoming trendsetters in their own right – Sparks have released 25 albums and written well over 300 songs.
The documentary is long overdue and I’m overjoyed to be able to share in the celebrations marking the bands 50th anniversary. Let’s be brutally honest here, any band that retains the ability to attract and fascinate new fans after five decades fully deserves to find a space in our collective hearts.
Their ambivalence towards fame, fortune and hitching themselves to whichever bandwagon appeared the most popular was apparent early on and it took the foresight of Todd Rundgren to assist in changing their reputation amongst the more conservative music industry moguls.
Their stock rose and whether an apocryphal tale or not, it was around this time during a performance on ‘Top Of The Pops,’ John Lennon rang Ringo Starr to inform him, “You won’t believe what’s on the television, Marc Bolan is doing a song with Adolf Hitler!” And they’ve been mischievously confusing listeners around the globe ever since.
Ask what their niche is and you’ll soon discover even they don’t know. It’s ‘multi-genre’ if such a thing exists. And if that doesn’t make sense, it’s probably an explanation they’d appreciate anyway.
With rapid fire cuts and a mix of archive footage, stills and talking heads, the film powers along at breakneck speed despite clocking in at over two hours. But don’t worry, it’s the quickest two hours I’ve ever spent in a cinema.
I love the brothers, what they stand for, what they have produced, their sheer volume of work, their longevity. They deserved to be thanked and cherished.
They’ve suffered heartbreak for their music, they’ve shed tears, and yet they haven’t buckled or sought another route – and it’s been fifty years or more. Genius.
Reviewing a film and deciding to award ‘stars out of five’ is ridiculous.
If a film makes you happy, takes you away from the nine to five and brings a smile to your face when you remember it weeks later, then it’s a film worth having seen.
And believe me, I’ll be smiling for years to come.