100 Greatest Songs of the 70’s #65 Sparks – The Number One Song in Heaven

Released: 1979

Or, when Ron and Russell met Giorgio. Back in Los Angeles following a spell in England, the brothers Mael felt that both their creativity and commercial appeal were tapering, as they laboured through the malaise which accompanied 1976’s Big Beat album and it’s successor Introducing Sparks, released the following year to similar apathy despite an attempted retooling of their sound.

It hadn’t escaped their attention that disco had become a dominant global force, but neither sibling wanted to make a total bonfire of the past, so Italian producer du jour Giorgio Moroder was brought in to make the revolution both quiet but also definitive. On release the punk and new wave sodden music press in Britain almost unanimously thought No.1 In Heaven stank, but through the turgid soup of The Knack’s My Sharona, it fantastically strode forward, an album crossing nascent Italo-Disco with Yellow Magic Orchestra and giving not much of a damn about anything.

The Number One Song In Heaven was a celestial suite in two parts, the first a melancholy but star-twinkling early glance at synth pop, the second half though had the angels moving like their halos couldn’t come loose, a high BPM banger which threatened to blow the pearly gates right off their hinges. Many others were taking notes, from Joy Division to Neil Tennant, and the Mael’s found themselves riding confidently into the next decade with a new bag of tricks.

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