Category: Sparks

Remembering Don Kirshner: Video highlights from an illustrious musical career

Don Kirshner, rock impresario, music publishing powerhouse, television host and behind-the-scenes music supervisor (before there was such a job title) and song-picker for the Archies and the Monkees, died Monday in Boca Raton, Fla.,   at age 76. Over the course of half a century in the music business, he served as a bridge connecting songwriters with opportunity, and provided a televised stage in the 1970s and early '80s on which some of the rock era's most important bands performed. Here are a few highlights.

Kirshner worked with ace songwriters to pen songs for the Archies, and oversaw the music component of the cartoon band's sound. As the co-owner, with Al Nevins, of Aldon Songs, Kirshner worked with Brill Building geniuses Neil Sedaka, Carole King and Neil Diamond, among others.

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Sparks boys say call us exciting, not eccentric

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A couple takes a scenic drive up Pacific Coast Highway, heading toward a romantic getaway, their passion for one another building as each mile passes. In most corners of the pop music world, you could guess exactly where such a scenario would lead.

But Sparks, the veteran L.A. duo with the passion for unpredictability, resides in its own wonderfully strange little universe. That scene, as it plays out on the new album “Exotic Creatures of the Deep,” Sparks’ 21st in its nearly 40-year career, culminates in possibly the least expected way.

Though Santa Barbara’s on our mind
Our love can’t wait ‘till after 9
So she says, ‘Can’t we let the monkey drive?’

So the ride continues, the amorous couple happily moving to the back seat as a chimp takes the wheel.

I think his license has expired
He seems to be a little wired
He has some trouble staying on our side

Silly? Sure. But underneath the humor that’s been the hallmark of the group anchored by brothers Ron and Russell Mael, there’s a point to be made about what pop music is all about. Or at least what these two idiosyncratic popmeisters believe it should be about.

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Sparks to play 2 albums at UCLA Valentine's Day show

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What’s love? For fans of the eccentrically inventive L.A. pop duo Sparks, it’s a Valentine’s Day show at UCLA at which brothers (and UCLA alums)  Russell and Ron Mael will perform two of their albums in their entirety: their widely acclaimed 1974 work “Kimono My House” and their newest, “Exotic Creatures of the Deep.”

Ambitious as it may sound, it should be a relative breeze for the Maels, who played all 21 of their studio albums in 21 nights (not consecutively) last summer in London.

For that engagement, BBC Online said, “The brave among us know for a fact that next to no one is making such criminally underrated and startlingly original music, in any genre, these days.”

On sale information is still to be announced. Details will be posted at the group’s official web site.

--Randy Lewis

Photo: Russell and Ron Mael, courtesy of Annie Wells /Los Angeles Times

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