Sparks - Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing LP


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Like Sparks' debut, A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing starts with a killer opening track, musically and lyrically -- "Girl from Germany" is a chugging number detailing the problems the narrator has with his parents over his girlfriend, given their lingering wartime attitudes. The album builds upon the strengths of the debut to create an even better experience all around. The same five-person lineup offers more sharp performances. Engineering veteran James Lowe takes over production reins from Todd Rundgren, with, happily, no audible sense of trying to make the album more commercial. If anything, things are even wiggier this time around, from the naughtily titled sea shanty "Beaver O'Lindy" that turns into a full-on rocker and the strings-plus-piano "Here Comes Bob" to the album's completely wacked-out, dramatic centerpiece "Moon Over Kentucky." Melodies start approaching the hyperactive level that flowered completely on the band's subsequent releases. Ron Mael and Earle Mankey trade off or play against each other, while the rhythm section of Jim Mankey and Harley Feinstein executes the kind of sharp tempo changes that would become de rigueur for thrash-metal bands of the '80s, but fit in perfectly here with the spastic pop on display. Russell Mael soars and croons over it all like an angel on deeply disturbing drugs, wrapping his vocals around such lines as "We surely will appreciate our newfound leisure time" from "Nothing Is Sacred." The long-time live favorite "Do-Re-Mi" -- indeed a cover of the number from The Sound of Music -- first appears here as well, taking Rodgers & Hammerstein to a level that even Julie Andrews would be hard-pressed to follow. Anyone who later wondered why Faith No More appeared on Sparks' self-tribute album Plagiarism need only listen to Woofer to understand. As a full-on purée of musical styles in the service of twisted viewpoints, it's a perfect album.