Kimono My House

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Not to be confused with Come on-a My House.
Kimono My House
Studio album by Sparks
Released May 1974
Recorded December 1973 - February 1974
Genre Glam rock, pop rock
Length 36:19
Label Island
Producer Muff Winwood
Sparks chronology
A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing
(1972)
Kimono My House
(1974)
Propaganda
(1974)
Singles from Kimono My House
  1. "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" b/w "Barbecutie"
    Released: April 1974
  2. "Amateur Hour" b/w "Lost and Found"
    Released: July 1974
  3. "Talent Is An Asset" b/w "Lost and Found"
    Released: November 1974 (US)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone (mixed)[2]

Kimono My House is the third album by American rock band Sparks. The album was released in May 1974 and is considered to be their commercial breakthrough album. Its title is a pun on the song "Come on-a My House," made famous by Rosemary Clooney.

History[edit]

In 1973, prior to the recording of the album, the brothers Ron and Russell Mael had accepted an offer to relocate to the United Kingdom in order to participate in the glam rock scene. The previous lineup consisting of Earle Mankey, Jim Mankey and Harley Feinstein were replaced with British musicians: Martin Gordon, Adrian Fisher and Norman "Dinky" Diamond were hired to play bass, guitar and drums respectively. The group signed a record contract with Island Records and recorded Kimono My House in 1974. Although the Mael brothers had wanted Roy Wood to produce the album, he was unavailable, so Muff Winwood was hired as producer. Winwood remained with the group to produce the follow-up album Propaganda later in 1974.

Sound[edit]

Musically, Kimono My House represented a shift in sound and a focusing of Ron Mael's songwriting (now the indisputable lead songwriter). Sparks' two albums with the Mankey brothers had been diverse albums that featured a number of different styles, such as a cover of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Do-Re-Mi," "Here Comes Bob," which was performed by a small string section, and "The Louvre," which mixed both English and French lyrics.

The new album embraced the more pop oriented side of the Mael brothers' songwriting, which had previously been evident in songs such as "Wonder Girl" and "High C." Now, backed by the new British line-up and boosted by Muff Winwood's simpler production, the songs were more focused. The album slotted in with the current popularity of glam rock—which was dominating the charts—in particular, the more experimental and electronic sound of Roxy Music and David Bowie. Lyrically, the songs remained unusual and humorous. The great number of words filled with pop-culture references, puns and peculiar sexual content sung often in falsetto by Russell Mael set Sparks apart from other groups.

The particularity of their sound, which matched pop songwriting with complex lyrics, defined the group to their UK audience. Integral to the sound was Adrian Fisher's bluesy guitar playing and Martin Gordon's sonorous Rickenbacker bass. This was aided and abetted by the physical presence of the group. Ron and Russell milked their peculiar image: Ron's toothbrush moustache, reserved wardrobe and usually silent demeanor sat in diametrical opposition to his younger brother's long curly hair and energetic and flamboyant stage manner. Taken together, the sound and look of the group caused a sensation, producing what seemed to the mass audience to be an "overnight success."

Release[edit]

Kimono My House became a popular release, reaching #4 on the UK Albums Chart.[3] The single "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" was a surprise hit and reached #2 in the UK Singles Chart.[3] It was held off the top spot by The Rubettes' bubblegum pop song "Sugar Baby Love," which remained at #1 for four weeks. Sparks' second Island era single, "Amateur Hour," reached the top ten in the UK later that summer.

Outside the UK, Kimono My House and its singles made a significant impact across Europe, notably in Germany, where both singles reached #12. In the US, the album reached #101 on the Billboard 200.[4] The group's two Bearsville albums had garnered critical praise but few sales. The only significant chart performance had been for "Wonder Girl," which had been a minor regional hit and had crept into the lower reaches of the Cashbox chart at #92.[5]

UK singer and Smiths frontman Morrissey has frequently cited Kimono My House as one of his favorite albums and famously wrote a letter to the NME at age 15 extolling its virtues. He later told the Mael brothers that it had been a key influence on him deciding to embark upon a music career.[6] In 2010, Morrissey included it on a formal list of his 13 favorite albums of all-time for The Quietus.[7]

Kurt Cobain also cited Kimono My House as one of his favourite albums of all time.[8] The British filly racehorse (b. 2004 - d. 2008) took its name from the album.[9]

In 1980 cover star Michi Hirota (pictured on the right side, the winking geisha) would add vocals to David Bowie's "It's No Game."[10][11]

Re-release[edit]

Kimono My House was re-issued and remastered by Island in 1994 and 2006. The first issue by the Island Masters subsidiary added the non-album b-sides "Barbecutie" and "Lost and Found." The '21st Century Edition' added a live recording of "Amateur Hour" recorded by a subsequent (1975) line-up of the group and sleeve notes by Paul Lester, the Deputy Editor of Uncut magazine.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Ron Mael; except where indicated. 

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us"     3:05
2. "Amateur Hour"     3:37
3. "Falling In Love With Myself Again"     3:03
4. "Here In Heaven"     2:48
5. "Thank God It's Not Christmas"     5:07
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "Hasta Mañana, Monsieur"   Russell Mael and Ron Mael 3:52
7. "Talent Is An Asset"     3:21
8. "Complaints"     2:50
9. "In My Family"   Russell Mael and Ron Mael 3:48
10. "Equator"     4:42
21st Century Edition bonus tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Length
11. "Barbecutie"     3:07
12. "Lost and Found"     3:19
13. "Amateur Hour (live at Fairfield Halls 09/11/1975)" (Features the Indiscreet line-up of Sparks)   4:44

Personnel[edit]

Other credits[edit]

  • Recording engineers - Richard Digby-Smith, Tony Platt
  • Mixdown engineer - Bill Price
  • Art Direction - Nicholas de Ville
  • Cover concept - Ron Mael, Nicholas de Ville
  • Photography - Karl Stoeker
  • Artwork - Bob Bowkett, CCS

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Rolling Stone review
  3. ^ a b "Chart Stats - Sparks". chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-23. Retrieved 2008-07-22. 
  4. ^ "Allmusic - Billboard Albums - Sparks". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-12-04. 
  5. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Wonder Girl". Allmusic. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Kimono My House - Sparks' Third Album". 
  7. ^ "Morrissey Reveals His Favourite LPs of All Time". Retrieved 2013-03-03. 
  8. ^ "A List Obligatory. The Top Glam Rock Albums". earbuddy.net. Retrieved 2013-01-17. 
  9. ^ "Kimono My House Racehorse Profile & Recent Form". gambling-guru.com. Retrieved 2013-01-17. 
  10. ^ "Michi Hirota". discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-01-17. 
  11. ^ "It's No Game by David Bowie". songfacts.com. Retrieved 2013-01-17.