Song Of The Day 10/16/2014: Sparks - "The Rhythm Thief"

You Pick The Artist II: Mare Wagar Hilchey gave me Sparks, the greatest European band ever to hail from America. The Mael Brothers, Russell and Ron, have been releasing music under various aggregations for over 40 years. Almost all of it has gone unnoticed in America. There was a moment in the '80s when it felt like modern rock had finally caught up with them and they were about to cash in, but it was not to be.

Sparks was the toughest group for me to decide which of their songs I like best. Honestly I have not yet reached the depths of Sparks' incredibly varied work. They dwell in this comic operatic netherland from the '70s, funnier than Queen but not as crass as The Tubes. Finally I had to go with a song from the album that, in 40+ years of unpredictable and odd music changes, is probably the weirdest Sparks album of all: Lil' Beethoven from 2002.

How does one describe it? Well, it's kind of a hyper-extension of the principles of Philip Glass across a giant orchestral sound, featuring a lot of spoken word, cathedral-sized choruses, and songs typical of Sparks' area of coverage: "What Are All These Bands So Angry About?" "Your Call's Very Important To Us. Please Hold." There's even a song that does nothing but retell the old music joke "How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?" That's it. It just tells that joke. In fact, courtesy again of Mare, I've featured a Lil' Beethoven track before. Over time it's ascended to become one of my favorite albums of this millennium's first decade. I'm thinking of suing.

But every week, at some random and unforeseen time and place, "The Rhythm Thief" steals into my head and there's nothing I can do about it. Now it's your turn. We also have these on special:

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