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Here in Heaven - Sparks

Another band who has been knocking around for years, always re-inventing their unique mix of rock and synth depending on the prevailing fashion, as well as, like Scott Walker, fond of using literary or cinematic themes in their the songs, are Sparks. Their own post glam brand of visual and musical surrealism also burrows a lot from Weimar Republic cabaret sensibilities, and they have somehow kept this up without losing their freshness for over forty years. This is largely because the LA based Mael Brothers, who form the nucleus of the band, initially jettisoned band members after one or two albums. Realising that the input of new creative partners replenished their own creativity, they then made it a deliberate policy to work with musicians on only one or two albums tops, letting the product rise from the metaphorical "sparks" created when they collided.

"Here in Heaven" is off their 1974 UK recorded album "Kimono My House" and tells of the moment when Romeo, having just killed himself because he believes Juliet is dead, finds himself in heaven. He isn't best pleased, as she hasn't preceded him, and it is typical of Sparks' acerbic sense of humour that he moans about heaven and the absence of his one love.

"It is hell knowing that your health

will keep you out of here

for many many years...."

The joke that he can just about put up with heaven is a good one -

"Basically, I guess it could be worse, yes I do suppose it could be worse" but it is the driving pace of the song and the relentless treble backing vocals that make it so special.

As I listen to it, particularly the chorus that begins

"Juliet you broke our little pact Juliet, I'm never coming back..."

I can't help wondering if this was one of Kate Bush's favourite tracks with its haunting, high-pitched, wavering tune and it's enigmatic words which, like "Wuthering Heights", lean heavily on the text of a classic work of literature:

"Second thoughts, is that what you had? second thoughts, first I broke my back second thoughts, as I hit the sea second thoughts, for eternity, for eternity, for eternity"

which make more sense when we remember the final lines Shakespeare gives Romeo before he dies:

"Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on

The dashing rocks thy seasick, weary bark.

Here’s to my love! (drinks the poison)

O true apothecary,

Thy drugs are quick.

Thus with a kiss I die."

Little does he know that she's already on her way to join him. What lingers in the mind the most, however, is the anodyne, pedestrian feeling Ron Mael's words give to heaven itself:

"....and here you cannot buy souvenirs

for you're never going back,

never, never!"

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