Follow TV Tropes


Music / Kimono My House

Go To

"Today I bought the album of the year. I feel I can say this without expecting several letters saying I'm talking rubbish. The album is Kimono My House by Sparks."
Morrissey, in a letter to the NME in 1974

Kimono My House is the third album by American Rock band Sparks, released in 1974 and considered one of their defining statements.

Kimono was their first album after moving from Los Angeles to England to take advantage of their growing European fanbase - the brothers Ron and Russell Mael left behind their bandmates and formed a new group with English musicians: guitarist Adrian Fisher, bassist Martin Gordon, and drummer Norman "Dinky" Diamond. Their eclectic mix of genres tightened to a neo-classical, arty Glam Rock that resonated with UK listeners, and it became their first and biggest hit album. According to producer Muff Winwood, Elton John bet against Winwood that the single "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" wouldn't become a top 5 hit; not only did he lose the bet with it going straight to #2, but it went on to be the band's Signature Song for their entire career and spawned countless cover versions. The second single "Amateur Hour" also reached the top 10 in England, and both singles reached #12 in Germany.

The band would continue this Anglophile Glam Rock sound for two more albums before their popularity waned. They returned to America in 1976 and attempted a West Coast sound to build a new fanbase, but this too failed to stick. They would not return to critical or chart success until 1979, when they would team up with legendary producer Giorgio Moroder and transition their style to Synth-Pop Disco for No. 1 in Heaven, setting a new blueprint for both their career for the next several decades and Electronic Music as a whole.


  1. "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" - 3:05
  2. "Amateur Hour" - 3:37
  3. "Falling In Love With Myself Again" - 3:03
  4. "Here In Heaven" - 2:48
  5. "Thank God It's Not Christmas" - 5:07
  6. "Hasta Mañana, Monsieur" - 3:52
  7. "Talent Is An Asset" - 3:21
  8. "Complaints" - 2:50
  9. "In My Family" - 3:48
  10. "Equator" - 4:42

21st Century Edition bonus tracks

  1. "Barbecutie" - 3:07
  2. "Lost and Found" - 3:19
  3. "Amateur Hour (live at Fairfield Halls, 9 November 1975)" - 4:44

These Tropes Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us:

  • Album Title Drop: The album's title features in "Hasta Mañana, Monsieur".
  • Ambiguous Gender: Russell played up his androgyny for this and the following records, fitting them in even more with the Glam Rock scene.
  • Anti-Christmas Song: "Thank God it's Not Christmas", combined with Anti-Love Song: a man dreads the Christmas season because he has to spend it with his dull wife.
  • Anti-Love Song: "Thank God It's Not Christmas", see Anti-Christmas Song above.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: "Hasta Mañana, Monsieur" depicts a man struggling to woo a girl in her native tongue. Unsure of her nationality, he takes random, wild stabs at every continent.
  • Country Matters: The protagonist of "Hasta Mañana, Monsieur" has this reaction when his foreign ladyfriend mentions reading Kant.
  • Demoted to Extra: The band's then-bassist Martin Gordon was annoyed when he saw the final album pressing, as on the back the planned band photo had been replaced with a large colour photo of the Mael brothers, with him, guitarist Adrian Fisher and drummer Norman "Dinky" Diamond being relegated to smaller, black-and-white portraits.
  • Hell of a Heaven: Played for dark laughs in "Here in Heaven", as the narrator is stuck waiting for his lover's far-off death after a failed suicide pact. The song provides the trope's page quote:
    "Up here in Heaven without you
    It is Hell knowing that your health
    Will keep you out of here for many, many years"
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: "Amateur Hour" gives sympathy to this person for when they finally get down to having sex and aren't very good at it at first.
  • Iconic Item: Bassist Martin Gordon used a Rickenbacker 4001 as his signature bass for the album, to the point that he preferred to be sacked from the band between albums than to use a different bass like he was asked.
  • Intercourse with You: "Amateur Hour", specifically about Their First Time.
  • Kimono Is Traditional: The cover features two Japanese women dressed in kimono.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Here in Heaven" is a rocking, dramatic song about a failed suicide pact.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover is a picture of two geisha girls against a green backgroundnote . The cover also didn't have text in its first pressing.
  • New Sound Album: After two Genre-Busting, Frank Zappa-esque albums, Kimono My House began the band's successful arty Glam Rock period.
  • Pun-Based Title: Kimono My House is a pun on the traditional pop song "Come on-a My House".
  • Record Producer: Muff Winwood, former bassist for the Spencer Davis Group and later producer for Dire Straits, Mott the Hoople, and the UK Nirvana among others.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Russell provides his own backing vocals. The band were greatly incensed when he and Ron recorded "Equator" without them and demanded to know who the female backing singer was; it was Russell himself.
  • Sibling Team: This marked the first album where Sparks was defined as Ron and Russell Mael, plus backing musicians. Previously Sparks included brothers Earle and Jim Mankey and drummer Harley Feinstein, but the record label gave the Mael brothers the choice to leave them behind in order to pursue their English fanbase, as the label figured they were the creative center of the band. The musicians hired for Kimono My House were greatly upset when they were Demoted to Extra on the album's back cover to the Mael brothers. Only drummer Norman "Dinky" Diamond would stick with the band for their Propaganda-Indiscreet incarnation, while Martin Gordon was sacked after this album and Adrian Fisher left partway through Propaganda.
  • Stage Mom: "Talent Is An Asset" plays Albert Einstein's mother as this.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: On much of the material in this album and era of the band, Russell Mael sings in such an odd falsetto that it can often be hard to discern any lines other than the title of the song. A good example is "Here In Heaven".
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Bassist Martin Gordon and guitarist Adrian Fisher were notoriously dissatisfied with the Maels' direction for the album. The latter, in particular, would put out his cigarettes while recording and refused to show up to multiple photoshoots. Both of them were sacked by the time Propaganda came out.
  • Their First Time: "Amateur Hour" advises that the first time isn't expected to go well, and that you need to practice at sex before you can get good at it.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Amateur Hour" has a very noticeable one before the final verse.
  • Updated Re-release: Remastered versions add album outtakes "Barbecutie" and "Lost and Found". The 21st Century Edition also includes a 1975 live version of "Amateur Hour" with the Indiscreet lineup, whilst the 40th anniversary Edition replaces them all with unheard demos.
  • Visual Pun: The cover shows a couple of women wearing kimonos.

"And it ain't me who's gonna leave!"