Sparks! is the debut album by soul jazz guitarist Melvin Sparks recorded for the Prestige label in 1970.
“A solid soul-jazz outing that looks to commercial material for the bulk of the set, but doesn’t unduly compromise itself in a pop direction. Sparks was one of the bluesiest soul-jazz guitarists, and his tart tone shares space here with deep grooves from Leon Spencer on organ. The brass, handled by Virgil Jones (trumpet) Houston Person (tenor sax), and John Manning (tenor sax) is usually secondary to the guitar-organ riffs. Sparks remakes Sly Stone’s “Thank You,” the Coasters’ “Charlie Brown,” and Eric Burdon and War’s “Spill the Wine” as lengthy instrumentals — commercial choices, to be sure, but executed with relaxed grit. Rounding out the program is a Rodgers & Hart cover and a Leon Spencer original. The entire album is available on the Legends of Acid Jazz CD reissue, which also includes his 1971 follow-up, Spark Plug.” – Richie Unterberger/AllMusic.
“Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” (Sly Stone) – 8:08
“I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers) – 6:35
“Charlie Brown” (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) – 5:55
“The Stinker” (Leon Spencer) – 7:00
“Spill the Wine” (Papa Dee Allen, Harold Ray Brown, B.B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan, Charles Miller, Lee Oskar, Howard Scott) – 11:10
Melvin Sparks – guitar
Virgil Jones – trumpet
John Manning, Houston Person (tracks 3 & 4) – tenor saxophone
Leon Spencer – organ
Idris Muhammad – drums
Recorded: September 14, 1970
Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs
Producer: Bob Porter