By Nat Mingo
The Duraniverse announced that Nick and John participated in the Sparks documentary this past
summer. Fortunately, it is now streaming on Netflix in the States. I found myself engrossed in
the doc as I was preparing to host a family gathering recently. I highly recommend it for music
fans. Nick and John had multiple cameos. Their responses within the documentary caused me to
mentally link the two bands- Sparks & Duran Duran.
The Sparks are the Mael brothers (Ron & Russell) which is unlike the multiple Taylors in Duran.
The film discussed the Maels’ upbringing and showed them working alongside each other.
Although our Taylors are not genetically related, there is a brotherhood within the band. John has
openly referred to his bandmates as “his brothers.” On various social media sites, I’ve observed
admiration discussions about Duran’s brotherhood moments. John and Nick grew up together,
created the band’s name and a manifestation list in its early days. I think John said “world
domination” was on their list. Simon made a telling remark in an Astronaut documentary when
he remarked that getting Nick and John together was a big moment as Nick was hurt by John’s
departure. John has discussed how much playing with Roger impacted his musical career. He felt
more comfortable playing bass with his newfound rhythm partner. He compliments Roger in his
memoir. In live shows, I love watching John and Simon share the microphone during certain
songs. It feels like both of them relish the moments. Nick and Simon share a deep bond as they
were the only two original remaining members during the Medazzaland through Pop Trash years
(1997-2000). These two must have had deep discussions about the band’s direction and the
desire to keep going.
The documentary shares an amusing Giorgio Moroder interlude which led to him producing a
Sparks album. It made me think of the John video clip in which he quips that Duran was on
“their best behavior” when working with Mr. Moroder. His influence on Future Past is obvious.
We all know how the band experiences “Durantime” when creating an album. A producer is
important to their process. Here are some producers the band has worked with:
Colin Thurston- Nile Rodgers- Chris Kimsey-John Jones-Dallas Austin- Mark Tinley-Nate Hills-
Mark Ronson- Mr. Hudson-Erol Alkan- Josh Blair- Giorgio Moroder
I’m grateful that these producers helped the band…just…finish…the…album!
The Sparks created at least 21 albums. They were brave (or foolish) enough to do 21 concerts
which highlighted each album. The documentary shares the moments when the Sparks’ music
were “on trend” or “off trend”. I didn’t realize how The Sparks foreshadowed the New Wave
music trend. A contributor remarked that for the Sparks it’s about the expression and less so
about sales for their process. I think Duran also has this tendency. Perhaps it is partially caused
by the aforementioned producers. Some changes were due to record company obligations.
I believe the band just evolves as their lives do. Listen to the first five albums in sequence (Duran
Duran-Rio-Seven and the Ragged Tiger-Notorious-Big Thing) and the musical evolution is
apparent. Some fans have expressed their delight that Future Past reflects the band’s sound. Due
to the difference of each album, I prefer to think that Future Past reflects their roots/origins.
Towards the documentary’s end, The Sparks share how they collaborated with Franz Ferdinand
on an album. It seemed as if both bands were mutually credited on the album’s creation.
Someday, I hope to hear it. The Power Station/Arcadia period had several collaborations with
musicians such as Grace Jones and Sting. The Red Carpet Massacre album has been greatly
discussed on multiple occasions. I do credit that time period with opening the band back up to
working with guest musicians. Since that album, they’ve worked with:
Timbaland/ Justin Timberlake- Ana Matronic- Kelis- Janelle Monae- Kiesza- Jonas Bjerre- Tove
Lo- Graham Coxon- Ivorian Doll.
Adding additional voices and musicians have added to the diversity of the band’s song catalog. I
wonder if maturity has caused them to be open with more collaboration. We’ve heard Simon
express how he initiated some of the Future Past guests because he felt the song needed an
The Sparks documentary is worth a watch just for the John-Nick contributions. Yet, it goes
beyond that. Due to the Spark brothers’ ages, their music spans from the era before Duran and
during Duran. Only time will tell if Duran Duran will also create at least 21 albums. I will
probably be along for the ride to find out.