Arguably one of Sparks’ best albums, 1974’s Kimono My House finds the brothers Mael (Ron wrote most the songs and played keyboards, while Russell was the singing frontman) ingeniously playing their guitar- and keyboard-heavy pop mix on 12 consistently fine tracks. Adding a touch of bubblegum, and even some of Zappa’s own song-centric experimentalism to the menu, the Maels spruce up a sleazy Sunset Strip with a bevy of Broadway-worthy performances here: as the band expertly revs up the glam rock-meets-Andrew Lloyd Webber backdrops, Russell sends things into space with his operatic vocals and ever-clever lyrics. And besides two of their breakthrough hits (the English chart-toppers “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us” and “Amateur Hour”), the album features one of their often-overlooked stunners, “Here in Heaven.” Essential.
It may not have been the most natural match in music history, but the marriage of Sparks’ focus on oddball pop songs to the driving disco-trance of Giorgio Moroder produced the duo’s best album in years. From the chart hits “Number One Song in Heaven” and “Beat the Clock” to solid album tracks like “La Dolce Vita,” No. 1 in Heaven surprises by succeeding on an artistic and commercial level despite the fact that neither the Mael brothers nor Moroder tempered their respective idiosyncrasies for the project. Moroder’s production is just as dizzying, chunky, and completely rhythm-driven as on his best work with Donna Summer, and the Mael brothers prove on “Tryouts for the Human Race” and “Academy Award Performance” that their bizarre songwriting wasn’t compromised.
-Stephen Cook, John Bush, allmusic.com