It's a live album circa 1982/1983
I bought this album as a completist but I have to warn people that this is essentially a bootleg. This is a vinyl rip and you can hear surface noise, clicks and pops throughout the CD. Also if you are one of those people who feel a sense of guilt about pirating albums because you are not supporting your favourite artist, I also know that Sparks aren't getting a single cent from this album as well as this is a unauthorised release.
Their manager Sue Harris posted this on the Amazon listing for the CD:
"Common courtesy goes a long way
Please note this release has nothing to do with Sparks - Ron and Russell Mael. They have not been consulted and have not given their approval.
Note to any record labels wishing to cash in - please have the decency to contact the band involved. They are usually quite easy to find - just try Google.
Specifically for Sparks - come on over to www.facebook.com/sparksofficial for starters."
So it contains 11 songs from 1982 from the Angst In My Pants tour and 4 songs from 1983 in the In outer Space tour.
For the Angst In My Pants gig was quite disappointing. THe sound quality was quite murky and tinny even taking in consideration the vinyl rip. Also the mix balance kinda sucked with the guitar being turn down in the mix. Also Ron Mael synths sound far more cheesy than it does in the studio version. Honestly most youtube clips of live performance during this era sounds better than the CD. To their credit thoguht they do make alterations to the songs when playing live often extending instrumental parts that makes it subtlely different to the original version. However for the first set a lot of time it does is pad out the song. I just don't think I Predict deserves to be extended to 6 minutes although I will say that probably reason why it was extended was because part of hte live performance was a strip show from Ron Mael and so the visual element was missing in understanding the context on why they extended the song arrangement. The highlights of hte performance was Eaten By The Monster Of Love which seems to have additional energy and the extended version of Upstairs which for some strange reason seems better audio quality than the rest of the song in the gig. Overall the first 11 songs were only worth a curiosity listen for the Sparks fanatic and not worth your time.
However the 4 songs from the In Outer Space tour is absolutely AMAZING. Hell I would have thought much hgiher of that album if it sounds like this
Seriously if you are a fan of In Outer Space than you like that album than you would love these performances. For one thing the sound quality is far more clearer than the rest of the gig (even if the vinyl background noise is audible)
I remember Russell Mael going on about how No. 1 In Heaven was using electronic instrumentation with rock and roll energy and drive.
The live performance of the fours songs, "I Wish I Looked A Little better", "All You Ever Think About Is Sex", "Modesty Plays" and "Cool Places" seems to symbolises that perfectly and all are superior than the studio version that seems to sound sterile in comparison.
The drums are more prominent adding more drive to the piece and htey were played in a quicker and more frantic tempo that brings up memory of Keith Forsey effort in No. 1 In Heaven.It's synth pop that kicks arse. Also the guitarist that was virtually inaudible in the studio version is now slightly audible in the live version and that slight different in the mix adds to the synth pop that kicks arse mentality.
Not only that the pinnacle performance of the gig was their brilliant version of "All You EVer Think About Is Sex"where during the keyboard solos, Ron Mael started to make distorted swirling chaotic noise from his synthesizer that seems to mimic how guitarist feedback their guitars during guitar solo and it sounded absolutely cool. Damn that song totally rules now where before I thought it was just a pretty good but overlong song on the studio album.
Modesty Plays also rules with Ron Mael doing a little bit of improvising in his keyboard solo and there is a very nice instrumental break where the songs become percussion heavy with the "ma, ma ma plays" which was a very nice variation on the song. This version kicks arse both the single version from the Shortcut and Extended Cut compilation as well as their version in MTYCDT.
Also Cool places and I Wish I lookaed a Little better is cool as well. Jane Weidlin appears and give a pretty good duet with Mael.
The only disappointment is that it was clear that this is only a small snippet from the gig. I want to hear the complete setlist of Sparks Live in Magic Mountain 23rd April 1983 dammit not just 4 songs What was most shocking was that after Modesty Play, you hear Ron Mael doing a speech reminiscent of the Saturday Night Live speech introducing the song Mickey Mouse to the audience and then Cool PLaces abruptly is played instead of Mickey Mouse. This is clear that Mickey Mouse was cut off from the CD version of the album but they were too lazy to edit out the speech and try to find a way to seamlessly transition one track to another.
Overall I'll give this live Cd a Hex 8 or 10/15. The first 11 songs were a disappointing Hex 6 but the last 4 songs were brilliant Hex D quality performance.
Best Song: All You Ever Think About Is Sex
Worst Song: Funny Face
My recommendation is for any Sparks fan who likes In Outer Space to just pirate this live album.
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