When you bring this record to the party, it clears the room in less than three songs. Effective, yes, but not what you had in mind.

(Ron and Russell Mael, aka Sparks/Courtesy of Island Records)
(Ron and Russell Mael, aka Sparks/Courtesy of Island Records)

We've all got one (or two..or three..), an album that speaks to you so deeply you just have to share it with friends. Turns out, they all hate it and think you're nuts. (In her teen years, my wife used to play Neil Young constantly in what can only be described as a tactical maneuver to drive her Mom batty. Worked like a charm.)

Well, one thing we can agree on is that we all love Neil Young. No, I'm talking about those fringe, cult-like groups that made an album and you were the only one to get it. You'd play it over and over again. Didn't matter what anyone else thought.

Enter Sparks and "Indiscreet" (Island, 1975). Their trademark kookiness was established long before this fifth album of theirs (produced by Tony Visconti, most famous for his work on early Bowie LP's), but keep in mind: in '75, you had "Born To Run", "A Night At The Opera", "Blood On The Tracks" and "Physical Graffiti" (and yes, unbelievably, we're only naming a few).

Sparks were in there, too!  The arrangements and instrumentation were unlike anything else at the time and the variety of sounds from song to song was either breath-taking or confusing as hell. There was 1920's swing, C&W-hoedown fiddling, the phased-out voice of God looking down on us, along with odes to pets eating scraps under the table and mammary glands.

Maybe it was the falsetto vocals. Whatever. "Indiscreet" remains one of the most intriguing records ever made, one that belongs to no particular time at all. If you can't take it, understood. But if you choose to go down the Sparks rabbit hole, the wonders are waiting for you...


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