The Cool Turntable

This is too cool for even the cool table! (Source)

Have the dog days of summer got you so crazy with the heat that you’ve found yourself howling at the sun?  Well, stop whimpering in the corner, because it’s finally Monday!  You know that what means here at The Nest…. it’s time to scratch your itch for another doggone lost hit that you can only find buried in the back of that poop filled puppy mill kennel we like to call the Dusty Vinyl Archive!  Everyone’s favorite record spinning bitch DJ Scratchy has sent the Sponkies to go fetch a real ol’ yeller out of the doghouse that’s sure to get your tail wagging this morning.  It’s time to raise the woof….

While many musicians will always claim it’s all about the art, let’s face it… if you perform songs for a living, the end goal is always to become a smashing $ucce$$.  To play before thousands of adoring fans, get on the cover of the Rolling Stone, to sign autographs on groupies’ breasts…. every garage band begins with these simple dreams.  Sometimes that dream goes slightly awry on the winding way to stardom and fame.  Like when your band suddenly finds itself with a captive and devoted audience….. only those masses who adore you happen to live far, far away while your fellow countrymen still have no idea you even exist.  Jimi Hendrix found his success in the UK, Cheap Trick was first noticed by Japan, The Escape Club had to escape to the US to get a hit, and then there is a band called Sparks…

Not your average white band…

Sparks formed in Los Angeles in the early 70’s riding the sequinned coattails of the glam rock movement to recognition.  The only problem is that while much of glam-infatuated Europe embraced Sparks, the States wished them bon voyage and kept turning up Lynyrd Skynyrd instead.  It wasn’t until a decade and several genre changes later that Sparks finally had a song come within a few mustache hairs of the US Top 40.  Peaking at #49 in 1983, it was the band’s highest charting US song, and is so buried and forgotten about that I didn’t even know it existed until Mecca Radio included it in a 37-track loop of songs that played continuously for almost three weeks a couple years ago.

It was like Christmas in October!

The song is called “Cool Places,” and I’m going to embed both the video and an audio only version since the former is must see for its 80’s MTV cheesiness, but is of such poor quality that the HD audio version blows it away.  Feel free to pick your poison (or listen to both!)….

Yes, Sparks couldn’t even get this one, lonely minor US hit on their own.  They had to recruit Jane Wiedlen, who at the time was riding the peak of The Go Go’s success, to sing as a duet with lead singer Russell Mael.  Perhaps Jane should have avoided mingling with such a hard luck outfit as Sparks since shortly after she recorded this song with them, The Go Go’s broke up, Jane got shown up by rival Belinda Carlisle when they both embarked on solo careers, and she wound up with one of the most ill fated cameos in silver screen history

Welcome to Hollywood, Jane…

Even considering the star studded competition of the early 80’s, it’s not a bad song though.  I’ll be back with more cool songs from cool places next Monday…


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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21 Responses to The Cool Turntable

  1. I loved this song… and I often dreamed someone could bring me to a cool place… well picked… it’s great to remember the time we were oh-so-young ;o)

  2. Another one that I don’t remember…..but then again at my age I don’t remember all that much anyway….haha…..seriously, so much of the music of that particular few year period sounds so similar it’s kind of one large gogo blur. That photo of the group looks like they’re ready to attack – I guess they were – they were attacking the USA music charts!


    • I don’t think this was very popular at the time, even if it was their most “popular” song. That band definitely looks weird, though… and that dude with the mustache is just plain creepy!

  3. Merbear74 says:

    That’s who played the singing telegram girl in the movie Clue? Well, I’ll be damned.

  4. I don’t remember that song, but I remember Sparks because of that creepy guy on the keyboards! Weren’t they brothers?

    • They were brothers! Really weird and different looking brothers. I thought creepy guy was just someone they found to make the video look weirder and didn’t realize he was in the band until I looked them up…

  5. Nope…donn’t recall this band or the song. Seems Sparks weren’t particularly ‘glammy’ back in the day. Then again, I probably didn’t hang out at cool places then. 🙂

  6. The last of my CD players has conked out, not counting the one in the car which still works. So now, you are one of the last places i can listen and frankly, listening on the computer doesn’t have the energy i’m used to in my music. Sometimes, I vaguely ponder getting one of those super expensive machines that fill your home with music, but i realize that Garry would just find it annoying and it would interfere with the television …

    • I love listening to music on YouTube because you can pick and choose what you want to listen to and almost every song imaginable is there. Outside of that, my biggest music source is obviously what plays overhead at work, and the “satellite” music channels at the end of the cable dial. I rarely use the radio/CD player in my house…

  7. Ladybuggz says:

    The jury is still out on this one…can’t say I remember it! oh well ! 😉

  8. crimsonowl63 says:

    I don’t remember this one but my husband likes their 1983 I Predict. He has it on his iTunes so I’ve heard that one a lot.

  9. draliman says:

    And here was me thinking “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us” was their only song ever.

    I looked up Jane Wiedlen on the IMDB. She played Joan of Arc in Bill and Ted! So she’s therefore very cool.

  10. Thom says:

    Yeah, Sparks was one of those “acquired taste” bands..most people never acquired it, at least in this country. These Californny guys were huge in the U.K. They would’ve been a good house band for your “Q” photo entry, as they were the very definition of “Q”uirky…I discovered these guys long before “Cool Places”..actually, I discovered them with their very FIRST album, back in way of the local college radio station. On the first 2 albums, Ron Mael (dude with the moustache) had frizzy hair and looked like Charlie Chaplin. With their third album, he cut it and slicked it back and that’s what he’s done ever since. He sits, still and silent, the only things moving being his fingers on the keyboard and his eyes darting side to side, stone faced, until he breaks out the occasional evil grin. Meanwhile, his brother, Russell, the singer, is the “glammy” one, prancing about and singing, quite often, in a high falsetto, which I think was the main reason they never really hit here. His voice, admittedly, is one that will irritate most people. I don’t mind it myself, because the music itself is pretty well done. However, his voice makes understanding the lyrics quite difficult a lot of the time, which is unfortunate, since the lyrics are the best thing about this band. They are devastatingly funny and clever. There’s “Here In Heaven”, about a guy who makes a pact with his lady love to jump off a Lover’s Leap…he goes first…then she changes her mind, leaving him to ponder “do I qualify as dearly departed, or am I that sucker in the sky—the fall guy for the first and the last time?” Or “Amateur Hour”, about losing one’…innocence, shall we say..”It’s a lot like playing the violin, you cannot start off and be Yehudi Menuhin”.

    Definitely not mainstream arena rockers

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