Terminal Jive - Sparks

Sparks : Terminal Jive (Virgin Records) 1979 :-

The general consensus seems to be that 'Terminal Jive' is one of Sparks weaker albums. Even Ron Mael himself claims that this is one of his least favourite Sparks albums; apparently the album was hurriedly put together, and Ron didn't get to play keyboards much.  Despite this, Sparks had a massive hit with 'When I'm With You' in France - commercially their most successful single of all time.  To promote the single the Maels appeared on numerous TV shows in France, and a video of Ron as a ventriloquist and Russ as his dummy was shown to death.

inner sleeve of 'Terminal Jive' was shot in various locations around London with slightly askew poses by Ron.  Pictures were taken at supermarket 'Safeway' on Kings Road, 'Victoria Station' and at prestigous department store 'Harrods'.  Harrods did not allow photo sessions in the store, hence the slightly surreptitious look on Ron's face as he emerges from their elevator.  According to Russell, he bought so many coconut scones at the store that he feels they should have paid him to endorse their store!

Initially the album was to be called 'Tokyo Bombed' and the cover was to be a Japanese man, reading the news through the telephone to somebody else.  The proposed cover design also incorporated countless small photographs of Ron and Russell in black and white.  A change of heart ensued, the design was destroyed and instead of 'Tokyo Bombed', the album eventually was called 'Terminal Jive'.

In my opinion
'Terminal Jive' is an excellent album.  However the album is a lot less eccentric than the earlier Bearsville/Island releases (and hence can sound rather plain by comparison).  Nonetheless all the songs on 'Terminal Jive' are solid compositions, nicely produced by Harold Faltermeyer and sung with passion by Russell.  Stand out tracks are arguably single 'When I'm With You', plus 'Young Girls', 'Noisy Boys' and 'Stereo'.

Sparks 1979 single release

On 'Young Girls' there is a heavenly interlude where Russell sings "Young girls, young girls, young girls, young girls, oooh, oooh, oooh", after which the chorus drifts in seamlessly.  Pure ecstasy!  The album's only disappointment is an instrumental version of  'When I'm With You' - this is pure filler. 
'Terminal Jive' is Sparks' final album of the 1970s, and in my opinion the rot started to set in during the early 1980s.  Indeed, most of Sparks output from the 1980's is substandard when compared to gems from the 1970's like the two Bearsville albums, the three Island albums, Giorgio Moroder produced 'No. 1 In Heaven', and 'Terminal Jive'.


Sparks 'Young Girls' single

Sparks review
TERMINAL JIVE BY SPARKS (VIRGIN RECORDS) : When I'm With You, Just Because You Love Me, Rock 'n' Roll People In A Disco World, When I'm With You (instrumental), Young Girls, Noisy Boys, Stereo, The Greatest Show On Earth

Sparks : Terminal Jive (HOME)