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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Beat the Clock"

Sparks - "Beat the Clock" (1979)

Odd band, interesting story, song that doesn't stand the test of time but is historically significant.

Sparks started life as two brothers from LA who write music that no one else really seemed to get. They eventually got traction in England, and took up residency in London, writing operatic pop music like their big hit "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both of Us". The vocals were high pitched, the songs were piano driven, and after a few albums with a full band, they still hadn't had any real success outside of England. As the 70s were drawing to a close, they became enamored with Disco, and their new angle was born.

Producer Giogio Moroder had just finished working with Donna Summer and got put together with the Mael brothers who had just ditched the rest of the band. They kept the high pitched vocals and the keyboard driven, but switched to synthesizers. Moroder's disco beats hung the whole thing together and the hit upon the synth duo; a musical style that would burn through England, Europe, and shape the 80s in America as well.

It is a perfect example of a mid 80s New Wave sound, so while it doesn't really sound great to me, you have to respect the fact that this was released in July of 1979. The vocals are impressive, but the song is ultimately a drum loop and a synth player who might as well be looped for most of the track.

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