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There aren't many bands who arrive at their 50th anniversary on a creative roll, still luring in new generations of fans, making Top 10 albums, and doing so by releasing music every bit as challenging and inventive as their earliest recordings. In fact, there is precisely one: Sparks.
Ron and Russell Mael are rock's original Odd Couple, as inscrutable as they are fascinating. Never content to rest on their laurels or follow musical trends, they have achieved commercial success only intermittently, and almost despite themselves. Edgar Wright's music documentary 'The Sparks Brothers' captures the art-pop pioneers at an improbable late career high, as well as recounting the story of how they got there, asking why they are not as celebrated as they deserve to be, and finding out how they became your favourite band's favourite band.
Featured in the documentary are noted Sparks admirers and collaborators such as Beck, Vince Clarke and Andy Bell of Erasure, Chris Difford of Squeeze, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Nick Rhodes and John Taylor of Duran Duran, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert of New Order, Nick Heyward, Bjork, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bernard Butler, Martyn Ware of The Human League/Heaven 17, Roddy Bottum of Faith No More, Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Gos, Steve Jones of Sex Pistols, 'Weird Al' Yankovic, Mike Myers, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, as well as producers such as Todd Rundgren, Muff Winwood, Tony Visconti, Giorgio Moroder and James Lowe, and several Sparks band members past and present.
The archival material unearths many seldom-seen, or never-seen treasures, from childhood home movies to a Mother's Day card written by Russell, to a glimpse of the Maels in the audience at “The Big TNT Show” in 1966, to Ron falling off his stool during the recording of “Something for The Girl with Everything.”
Perhaps the most touching section though is Wright's own footage of the modern-day Mael brothers, going about their repetitive and mundane daily routines, recalling the famous Gustave Flaubert dictum, “Be ordinary and bourgeois in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
That violently original work is mirrored immaculately by 'The Sparks Brothers'.