Let Mase turn you on to Sparks!

July 7th, 2020


I have mentioned several times since our beloved Mase died last month that last year, he turned me on to the band Sparks. What happened was, there was some song on our playlist (I don't even remember what it was) that reminded him of Sparks, and he came up to me after a staff meeting one time and asked me if I was a Sparks fan. I got really excited!


I said "no, but I've been really wanting to get into them for several years now! They just have so many albums that I have no idea where to start. Can you help me?"


He said "oh, I'll make you a fan. I'll make you a Spotify playlist," which he did. Well, not only did he make me a fan, but in the month after he sent me the playlist, I went out and bought every Sparks LP I could get my hands on. Two months after he made me the playlist, Mase told me "I've never turned anyone on to a band who so quickly became a bigger fan than I was!" We continued to geek out together about Sparks (second only to Prince) for the rest of his life.


The title of this post is "Let Mase turn you on to Sparks!," and that is exactly what I am hoping will happen here. Below are audio or video for every song (in order) that he put on the playlist he made for me. (Plus, I notice, he added one additional song more recently, that I will tack on to the end, along with a song or two from their brand new album.) The most amazing thing about Sparks is how frequently and skillfully they reinvent themselves. In this playlist, much like in their discography, you'll find everything from glam rock to disco, from new wave and synth pop to EDM, and even some classically influenced pop tunes. There is something for everyone in Ron Mael's quirky lyrics and keyboard playing and his brother Russell's brilliantly affected vocal style, the only constants throughout their 24 albums (not counting their collaboration with Franz Ferdinand called FFS). Without further ado, here is what Mase thought you should listen to to become a Sparks fan:


"Angst in My Pants" from Angst in My Pants, 1982


"Cool Places" featuring Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Gos, from In Outer Space, 1983


"This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" from Kimono My House, 1974

Side note: both Morrissey and Björk cite this song as the impetus for their respective choices to pursue music as a career.


"Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)" from Hippopotamus, 2017


"Eaten by the Monster of Love" from Angst in My Pants, 1982


"Tryouts for the Human Race" from No 1 in Heaven, 1979


"Music That You Can Dance To" from Music That You Can Dance To, 1986


"I Predict" from Angst in My Pants, 1982


"All You Ever Think About Is Sex" from In Outer Space, 1983


"Tips for Teens" from Whomp that Sucker, 1981


"Perfume" from Hello Young Lovers, 2006



That is the end of the playlist as Mase originally gave it to me. Subsequently, I see that he added on one of Sparks's biggest hits, presumably after he found out that it had been covered by one of his favorite bands, Redd Kross:

"When Do I Get to Sing 'My Way'" from Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins, 1994



I wanted to add a track for you from their terrific new album, too. It never made the playlist, as Mase never got to hear it:

"Lawnmower" from A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip, 2020