….I probably first set my eyes on the then scariest looking man in pop music.
The singles chart of 11 May 1974 had a new entry by a new band at #27.
mp3 : Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us
I’d be not far short of my 11th birthday. Pop music on the telly was more or less restricted to Top of The Pops and given that Sparks were just one of two new entries that week (the other being Alvin Stardust singing Red Dress) then I’m assuming they got on the show a few days later. If so, then that was the first time I saw the really creep, scary man with the staring eyes and the Adolf Hitler moustache sitting behind the piano. He gave me more nightmares than any monster brought to life by the writers of Dr Who.
There’s no doubt that Sparks first appearance on telly got the nation talking. Most of the talk would have been about the keyboard weirdo, but then again I’m sure that much of the female population were equally as wowed by the good-looking man in the tight trousers with the high-pitched voice.
The effect of this incredible appearance can be seen from the following week’s chart. Sparks were the biggest climbers up 18 places to #9 – compare and contrast with poor old Alvin whose efforts saw a rise of just one spot to #10. In those days, you didn’t get on the show two weeks running unless you were #1, but that didn’t stop the momentum of This Town…which hit #3.
Another TV performance saw even more people buy the single and in its fourth week on the charts it hit #2, which is also where it stayed on week 5, sadly kept off the top spot by Sugar Baby Love by The Rubettes.
By the sixth week it had fallen down to #5….and the Top of The Pop rules were that no song falling down the chart would feature.
There’s many who at the time predicted Sparks would be one-hit wonders and remembered as a novelty act. That they were back in the charts a few months later came as a shock to those who hated them:-
mp3 : Sparks – Amateur Hour
But even their biggest fans would have laughed out loud if you’d said they’s still be making critically acclaimed music 40 years on……..
As I was too young to really appreciate and understand Bowie, then it’s fair to say that Sparks were the first weird and different sounding band that I ever fell for (once I realised that Ron Mael wasn’t really the bogeyman). And I’m happy to argue all day and all night that the two singles which first brought them fame and fortune are timeless classics.