Big Beat (album)

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Big Beat
Big Beat - Sparks.jpg
Studio album by Sparks
Released October 25, 1976 [1]
Recorded August 1976
Studio Mediasound, New York City
Length 35:30
Label Columbia (US), Island (UK)
Producer Rupert Holmes
Jeffrey Lesser for Widescreen Productions
Sparks chronology
Big Beat
Introducing Sparks
Singles from Big Beat
  1. "Big Boy" b/w "Fill-er-up"
    Released: October 1976
  2. "I Like Girls" b/w "England"
    Released: December 1976
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars
Classic Rock6/10 stars[3]

Big Beat is the sixth album by American rock band Sparks, released in 1976.


Big Beat was recorded at Mediasound Studios, New York City in August 1976. The album was the group's first album after breaking away from their English backing band. Instead, the Mael Brothers used session musicians and hired former Milk 'N' Cookies bassist, and Roxy Music contributor (Viva!), Sal Maida on bass, Tuff Darts guitarist Jeffrey Salen and Hilly Boy Michaels on drums. The release was their first for Columbia Records in the US. The album employed a much heavier and harder rock sound. Initially, the Mael brothers had returned to work with the early Sparks member Earle Mankey. Together, they recorded the song "England", a song which bore much in common with the jaunty home-made and unusual sound that the three musicians had made together in the early 1970s. Conversely, Rupert Holmes and Jeffrey Lesser's production on the album was slicker and more direct and the resulting album displayed a more "American" AOR sound. This new "West Coast" sound was deemed a failure as Sparks felt the results were "bereft of personality".[4]

The final track on the album was a re-recording of "I Like Girls". The song had been a live favourite from their pre-1974 days. Versions of the song had previously been recorded in 1973 and again in 1974, but both takes were deemed unsatisfactory.[5] The 1973 recording of "I Like Girls" was later included on the 1991 Rhino Entertainment compilation Profile: The Ultimate Sparks Collection.

The lead single, "Big Boy", and its B-side, "Fill-er-up", were performed for a cameo appearance in the 1976 disaster film Rollercoaster, after Kiss turned down the role.[6]


Big Beat was not a success in terms of chart performance and failed to match the performance of the group's previous three albums. It did not chart in the UK or US.

"Big Boy" and "I Like Girls" were released as singles but neither picked up any significant sales or radio play.


Big Beat was reissued by Island in 1994 and remastered in 2006. The first issue by the Island Masters subsidiary added "Tearing The Place Apart" and Russell Mael's "Gone with the Wind", both of which were recorded during the sessions for the Indiscreet album. The '21st Century Edition' added the non-album single "I Want to Hold Your Hand", its B-side, "England", and two previously unreleased tracks; "Looks Aren't Everything" and "Intrusion/Confusion". The latter is an early recording of "Confusion". The remastered edition is generally considered sonically superior to the earlier 1994 UK CD and the 1988 Japanese CD but accidentally extends the track "Throw Her Away (And Get A New One)" by about twenty seconds leading to a cold end, rather than the intended fade out present on every other edition.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Ron Mael except as indicated.

Side one
1."Big Boy"3:30
2."I Want to Be Like Everybody Else"2:57
3."Nothing to Do"3:09
4."I Bought the Mississippi River"2:29
6."Everybody's Stupid"3:41
Side two
7."Throw Her Away (And Get a New One)"3:15
9."Screwed Up"4:20
10."White Women"3:24
11."I Like Girls"2:58




  1. ^
  2. ^ James A. Gardner. "Big Beat - Sparks | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  3. ^ Makowski, Peter (December 2006). "Still able to start a fire: Sparks Reissues". Classic Rock. p. 101. 
  4. ^ Easlea, Daryl (July 2003). "Sparks Interview". Record Collector Magazine Issue. 287. 
  5. ^ "Russell Mael: "The song was written at the time of the original L.A. band. On returning to America, after our 1972 European tour, we jetted to Bearsville studios in upstate New York (Woodstock) to record the stage favourite "I Like Girls". Nick James produced the song but it didn't come as well as expected". Retrieved 2014-05-10. 
  6. ^ Black, Johnny (September 2006). "Sparks Interview". Mojo Magazine Issue. 154. 

External links[edit]