Sparks: The Island Years Boxset

The Island Years Boxset


  • US $124.99  

  • Release Date 27 November 2015
  • Sorry Sold Out
Product code
Vinyl Box Set

USM are pleased to announce the release of Sparks: The Island Years, a collection of the band’s four Island studio albums along with a bonus disc of other tracks from the same era.

Sparks is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1971 by brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals), formed in 1968. Known for their quirky approach to songwriting, Sparks' music is often accompanied by intelligent, sophisticated, and acerbic lyrics, and an idiosyncratic, theatrical stage presence, typified in the contrast between Russell's wide-eyed hyperactive frontman antics and Ron's sedentary scowling. They are also noted for Russell Mael's falsetto voice and Ron Mael's keyboard style. In March of this year, it was announced that the band had formed a supergroup with Franz Ferdinand under the name FFS. The self-titled debut album FFS was released on June 8, 2015 under Domino Records. The album was recorded in a 15-day period in late 2014 and was produced by Grammy Award-winning record producer John Congleton. Although the album itself was recorded in 2014, the two bands have been recording with each other since the mid-2000s. Upon release, the album received positive reviews from music critics.

Kimono My House was released in May 1974 and is considered to be their commercial breakthrough album, featuring their most popular single “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us”. Its title is a pun on the song "Come On-a My House", made famous by Rosemary Clooney. Musically, this album represented a shift in sound and a focusing of Ron Mael's songwriting (now the indisputable lead songwriter). It embraced the more pop-oriented side of the Mael brothers' song-writing, which had previously been evident in songs such as "Wonder Girl" and "High C". Now, backed by a 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.

Propaganda is the fourth album by Sparks. The title track is a short a cappella song with multiple overdubs from Russell Mael. The album followed its predecessor Kimono My House by half a year and was a successful album in the UK and US. It reached #9 on the UK Album Chart and #63 on the Billboard 200 (and remains their highest peak in that country). The singles "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth" and "Something for the Girl with Everything", while not as successful as those from Kimono My House, both reached the top twenty in the UK reaching number 13 and number 17 respectively. In France, "At Home, At Work, At Play" together with "Propaganda" was released as a single instead of "Something for the Girl with Everything". In the US, "Achoo" was released as the album's only single.

The band’s fifth album Indiscreet was released in 1975 and was produced by Tony Visconti, with whom the group reunited in 1997 to produce several tracks for their retrospective album Plagiarism. The song "How Are You Getting Home?" was used in Leos Carax's critically acclaimed film Holy Motors.

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 1970s. 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".

This set will also include a new collection of tracks, The Rest Of Sparks; featuring b-sides and other relevant audio from the same time period.



Side 1

  1. This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us
  2. Amateur Hour
  3. Falling In Love With Myself Again
  4. Here In Heaven
  5. Thank God It’s Not Christmas

Side 2

  1. Hasta Manana, Monsieur
  2. Talent Is An Asset
  3. Complaints
  4. In mY Family
  5. Equator


Side 1

  1. Propaganda
  2. At Home At Work At Play
  3. Reinforcements
  4. B.C
  5. Thanks But No Thanks
  6. Don't Leave Me Alone With Her

Side 2

  1. Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth
  2. Something For The Girl With Everything
  3. Achoo
  4. Who Don't Like Kids
  5. Bon Voyage


Side 1

  1. Hospitality On Parade
  2. Happy Hunting Ground
  3. Without Using Hands
  4. Get In The Swing
  5. Under The Table With Her
  6. How You Getting Home?

Side 2

  1. Pineapple
  2. T*ts
  3. It Ain't 1918
  4. The Lady Is Lingering
  5. In The Future
  6. Looks, Looks, Looks
  7. Miss The Start, Miss The End


Side 1

  1. Big Boy
  2. I Want To Be Like Everybody Else
  3. Nothing To Do
  4. I Bought The Mississippi River
  5. Fill-er-Up
  6. Everybody's Stupid

Side 2

  1. Throw Her Away (And Get A New One)
  2. Confusion
  3. Screwed Up
  4. White Women
  5. I Like Girls


Side 1

  1. Lost And Found
  2. Barbecutie
  3. Alambamy Right
  4. Marry Me
  5. Profile
  6. The Wedding of Jacqueline Kennedy to Russell Mael

Side 2

  1. I Want To Hold You r Hand
  2. England
  3. Gone With The Wind
  4. Intrusion/Confusion
  5. Looks Aren't Everything
  6. Tearing The Place Apart

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