Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Icons Part I

Today's stand-in music post is about under-the-radar style icons in American music.

When most people think of style icons in the American rock music world, a few names come to mind: Elvis, Bob Dylan, Velvet Underground, The Ramones. In jazz, it's Miles Davis; in funk, it started with the James Brown and led to the cowboy-outfitted, mega-spectacled excesses of Funkadelic; in pop, well, do I really have to name names?

Then there were those stylish players that should have made it huge in America, but never quite caught on. They were big in France, Australia, and the UK, or maybe they were big fish in small ponds here in the States, but they didn't win many points for stylishness in the U.S.

My favorite under-appreciated pop outfit is the still-living-and-making-music duo Sparks, originally from Los Angeles. They were enormous in the U.K., but we Americans, too enamored with Barbara Streisand and Barry Manilow at the time, kinda missed the boat.

Their posters and record covers were always bold and sassy as hell. My favorites? 1974's "Propaganda" (a top tenner in the U.K; a top 200-er in the U.S.) and 1975's "Indiscreet":

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