Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sparks - Whomp That Sucker

This month marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Whomp That Sucker, the tenth studio album from Sparks. This 1981 record, which was the group's return to their rock roots after two disco efforts, peaked at number 182 on the US Billboard Album chart.

Side one opens with "Tips for Teens", which was also the first single. This guidance song for adolescents on the verge of puberty starts with piano but is soon joined by synths. The verses are quirky and the chorus is catchy.

The second single was "Funny Face", a new-wave swipe at the model culture that ends with a bit of an ironic tragedy.

"Where's My Girl" features two tempos - an ominous plodding one for the verses and then a frantic whirling one of the chorus. It gives the song a rather manic and unhinged mood.

"Upstairs", a bouncy ode to bedroom banishment, reminds me a lot of early Devo.

"I Married a Martian" closes out the first half. With the big and bold pianos and percussion, it brings to mind the sound of Electric Light Orchestra.

Side two begins with "The Willys", a rousing rocker about a mysterious malady.

"Don't Shoot Me", the B-side to the first single, is sung from the viewpoint of endangered animals.

I like the layers of piano and various keyboards on the dreamy melody of "Suzie Safety".

"That's Not Nastassia" is another song about an interesting woman that inhabits the world of Sparks. I have to wonder if this song is in reference to the German actress Nastassja Kinski who rose to fame in the late 70's and early 80's.

The record closes with "Wacky Women", a wildly energetic and wide-slam open dance track.

I did not own any Sparks albums back in the 80's; I added Whomp That Sucker to my digital library within the last decade along with a few of their other early 80's releases. When I'm looking for a break from the norm and those songs you've heard hundreds of times before over the decades, songs like these from Sparks really cleanse the musical palette.

For more from Sparks, click here.

1 comment:

HERC said...

Sparks songs are indeed like a breath of fresh air or "a palette cleanser" like you said.

My first exposure to the Sparks sound was the wry and dry "I Predict" on K-Tel's The Beat though I did go back and discover the delightful "disco" phase you mentioned as well as their entire back catalogue. (My CLZ Music app tells me I have 18 Sparks albums in the collection now.)

It's a shame they never really achieved even a small level of fame (unless you count "cult favorite") here in their homeland after an incredible 45 years of recording and performing music, inspiring and influencing favorite acts of mine like Nirvana, Ramones, ABBA, Human League, Depeche Mode, New Order, Def Leppard and even Sir Paul McCartney along the way.