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Noël's Long Lost "Dancing is Dangerous" Music Video + A Couple Q's w/ Noël + Sparks.

Sparks, the cult-beloved pop band consisting of brothers Ron and Russell Mael, recently unearthed Noël’s 1979 music video for "Dancing Is Dangerous”, from her record, Is There More To Life Than Dancing? Sparks wrote and produced the album, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary alongside their album No. 1 in Heaven. The Sparks & Noël 45th Anniversary Collection is available here.


One of the biggest Sparks fan I know is Synth History's longtime collaborator, director Ambar Navarro. As a director herself, I thought it'd be neat to have her conduct this interview with Noël about the video, with a quick couple introductory Q's with Russell Mael of Sparks!


Noël - Is There More To Life Than Dancing?

Noël, courtesy of Sparks.
Noël, courtesy of Sparks.

Ambar: You wrote, recorded and produced Noël’s album the same year you worked with Giorgio Moroder for No.1 In Heaven. Did you learn anything in the studio with Moroder that you implemented with Noël?


Russell: We learned a lot about electronics from working with Giorgio Moroder. We thought we could apply some of those techniques we learned and the experience with Giorgio to our project with Noël.


Sparks with Giorgio Moroder.
Sparks with Giorgio Moroder.
Sparks with Giorgio Moroder.
Sparks with Giorgio Moroder.


Ambar: For No.1 In Heaven, I understand Moroder used synthesizers like the Minimoog, Oberheim TVS, and Korg ARP 2600. What was it like recording with him and were there other instruments you used?


Russell: Sparks were the first band that Giorgio ever worked with. So the project was a pioneering venture for both him and us. No one knew what the results of the collaboration would be but both sides were engaged to make it something unique and special. We appreciated Giorgio’s expertise in electronics and thought that that approach combined with our sensibility and our vocals and lyrics would yield something special. In the liner of the LP sleeve is a photo showing the synth set up we primarily used. A modular Moog.



Ambar: Was this video ever released on MTV or other television programs?


Noël: This video has never released at all. I was mailed the original master and have had it in my possession for the past 45 years, never dreaming the album would be re-released. Here's what happened: Before the video shoot, I had called Virgin Records headquarters in London from LA, asking if I could re-schedule, bacause I had the flu and had 103 fever, and my doctor had advised me not to travel. I was told Micky was going on tour with the Monkees immediately following the video taping and wouldn't be available at a later time, so this was the only opportunity to shoot the video with him. When I arrived on set, Micky was so excited; he had prepared an entire storyboard for a concept video. As we didn't have a lot of time, he ushered me over to a stage into which a coffin had been placed, ordered the crew to start the fog machine, and had a couple of the crew lower me into the coffin. His idea for the first shot was to focus on just my arm rising up out of the coffin, panning to a full body shot as I stepped onto the stage, looking all mysterious and witchy. The fog kept getting thicker and shortly I starting gasping as it was getting hard to breathe. I heard Micky yelling over the music, “And...ACTION!!!” but by the third call when I wasn't rising up, the stage crew ran over and had to lift me up, as I had almost suffocated. At that point I was able to explain to Micky how ill I was, and that I would not be able to fulfill his storyboard vision, to which he disappointedly said, “Well, fine, then, we'll just shoot some close-ups of your eyes and lips and a few standing and kneeling shots and call it a day.”


Noël, courtesy of Sparks.
Noël, courtesy of Sparks.

Ambar: Why did it take so long to premiere online, 45 years later?


Noël: When Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks called me in October 2023, I was floored when they shared that fans had been asking, “what about Noël?” after the airing of the Edgar Wright “The Sparks Brothers” documentary, so they had decided to re-release the album, and asked me if I had a copy of the video, as no one had ever seen it. When they had contacted Micky, he didn't have a master in his archive. Richard Branson had told my attorney, Stan Diamond, that he didn't think the video had enough “disco-dancing pizazz” and didn't intend to exercise the 6-album contract option, since the Sex Pistols had exploded onto the scene and he thought disco was passé.


I mailed that master to Ron and Russell and in April 2024 and they took the original Umatic video and had it successfully digitized with the help of an analog video company called “Whammy” based in Silverlake, close to downtown LA, who were able to work with the UCLA Film & TV Archive for the transfer process.


Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks.
Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks.

Ambar: Micky has always been my favorite Monkee and I was lucky enough to see him play the Troubadour recently. How did the decision to choose Micky Dolenz to direct this video come

to be?


Noël: I'm assuming it was a Virgin Records decision, based on the fact that the video had been mailed to my LA manager from the UK, and Ron and Russell had never seen the video.


Ambar: How hands-on were you with the visual aspect of the video and what was it like working with Micky Dolenz?


Noël: I was hands-on as far as my costume choices, hair and make-up, and the moves I made during the video, as they represented the more “punk”aspects of the stage persona Ron and Russell had been intrigued by when they first saw me perform at the Troubadour with the punk rock group, Mick Smiley, and I had a vision of how I wanted to represent their music. Micky was in charge of how the scenes were filmed and edited and would suggest which way he wanted me to look with my eyes, how to purse my lips, or walk, kneel and throw my hair back, since he had to scrap his concept for the video. He was very sweet and understanding, but I sensed how disappointed he was not to be able to film his vision for the video. We were able to have lunch together after the shoot before he had to run to catch his plane - which he missed - so had to re-book a flight. I very much felt the pressure he must have been under to perform for so many different voices during that hectic time, and admired him greatly for being so gracious.


Noël, courtesy of Sparks.
Noël, courtesy of Sparks.

Ambar: How important is it for you to show off performance vs. a narrative story in your music videos?


Noël: This is the one and only music video I was ever featured on. When I recorded my second album, Peer Pressure on CBS/Scotti Bros. I requested a concept video budget of $6,000, which was unheard of, because I called for favors from all my artistic friends in L.A. and they were thrilled at the opportunity but Survivor's “Eye of the Tiger” hit big and I was dropped from another label. I was lucky enough to get a stellar live video shot of the band's debut performance at Madame Wong's. It provides a glimpse of my stage performance with my live band, “Noël and the Red Wedge.”


Synth History Exclusive.

Photos provided by Sparks.

Interview conducted by Ambar.

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