Big Beat (album)

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Big Beat
Studio album by Sparks
Released October 1976
Recorded August 1976, Mediasound, New York
Genre Glam rock
Length 43:06
Label Columbia (US), Island (UK)
Producer Rupert Holmes
Jeffrey Lesser for Widescreen Productions
Sparks chronology
Indiscreet
(1975)
Big Beat
(1976)
Introducing Sparks
(1977)
Singles from Big Beat
  1. "Big Boy" b/w "Fill-er-up"
    Released: October 1976
  2. "I Like Girls" b/w "England"
    Released: December 1976
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]

Big Beat is the sixth album by American rock band Sparks, released in 1976.

History[edit]

Big Beat was recorded at Mediasound studios, New York in August 1976. The album was the group's first album after breaking away from their English backing band. Instead the Mael Brothers used session musicians and hired Roxy Music contributor (Viva!) Sal Maida on bass, Tuff Darts guitarist Jeffrey Salen and Hilly Boy Michaels on drums. The release was their first for Columbia Records in the US. The album employed a much heavier and harder rock sound. Initially the Mael brothers had returned to work with the early Sparks member Earle Mankey. Together, they recorded the song "England," a song which bore much in common with the jaunty home-made and unusual sound that the three musicians had made together in the early seventies. Conversely, Rupert Holmes and Jeffrey Lesser's production on the album was slicker and more direct and the resulting album displayed a more "American" AOR sound. This new "West Coast" sound was deemed a failure as Sparks felt the results were "bereft of personality".[2]

The final track on the album was a rerecording of "I Like Girls." The song had been a live favourite from their pre-1974 days. Versions of the song had previously been recorded in 1973 and again in 1974, but both takes were deemed unsatisfactory.[3] The 1973 recording of "I Like Girls" was later included on the 1991 Rhino Entertainment compilation Profile: The Ultimate Sparks Collection.

The lead single, "Big Boy," and its b-side, "Fill-er-up," were performed for a cameo appearance in the 1976 disaster film Rollercoaster, after Kiss turned down the role.[4]

Release[edit]

Big Beat was not a success in terms of chart performance and failed to match the performance of the group's previous three albums. It did not chart in the UK or US.

"Big Boy" and "I Like Girls" were released as singles but neither picked up any significant sales or radio play.

Re-release[edit]

Big Beat was re-issued by Island in 1994 and remastered in 2006. The first issue by the Island Masters subsidiary added "Tearing The Place Apart" and Russell Mael's "Gone With The Wind," both of which were recorded during the sessions for the Indiscreet album. The '21st Century Edition' added the non album single "I Want to Hold Your Hand", its b-side, "England", and two previously unreleased tracks; "Looks Aren't Everything" and "Intrusion/Confusion". The latter is an early recording of "Confusion". The remastered edition is generally considered sonically superior to the earlier 1994 UK CD and the 1988 Japanese CD, but accidentally extends the track "Throw Her Away (And Get A New One)" by about twenty seconds leading to a cold end, rather than the intended fade out present on every other edition.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Ron Mael except as indicated. 

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Big Boy"     3:30
2. "I Want to Be Like Everybody Else"     2:57
3. "Nothing to Do"     3:09
4. "I Bought the Mississippi River"     2:29
5. "Fill-er-up"     2:20
6. "Everybody's Stupid"     3:41
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. "Throw Her Away (and Get a New One)"     3:15
8. "Confusion"     3:27
9. "Screwed Up"     4:20
10. "White Women"     3:24
11. "I Like Girls"     2:58
21st Century Edition bonus tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Length
12. "I Want to Hold Your Hand"   John Lennon and Paul McCartney 2:56
13. "England"     3:18
14. "Gone with the Wind"   Russell Mael 3:07
15. "Intrusion/Confusion"     2:47
16. "Looks Aren't Everything"     3:28
17. "Tearing the Place Apart"     3:38

Personnel[edit]

  • Russell Mael - Vocals
  • Ron Mael - Keyboards
  • Sal Maida - Bass
  • Jeffrey Salen - Guitar
  • Hilly Boy Michaels - Drums

~

  • Rupert Holmes - Production
  • Jeffrey Lesser (for Widescreen Productions) - Production
  • Godfrey Diamond - Engineering, Re-mix
  • Bob Clearmountain - Additional engineering
  • Harvey Goldberg - Additional engineering
  • Michael Barbiero - Additional engineering

References[edit]

  1. ^ James A. Gardner. "Big Beat - Sparks | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  2. ^ Easlea, Daryl (July 2003). "Sparks Interview". Record Collector Magazine Issue 287. 
  3. ^ "Russell Mael : "The song was written at the time of the original L.A. band. On returning to America, after our 1972 European tour, we jetted to Bearsville studios in up-state New York (Woodstock) to record the stage favourite "I Like Girls". Nick James produced the song but it didn't come as well as expected". Graphikdesigns.free.fr. Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  4. ^ Black, Johnny (September 2006). "Sparks Interview". Mojo Magazine Issue 154. 

External links[edit]