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The Sports (Australia): Don't Throw Stones [Expanded]

Album Notes

The U.S. version of an Australian hit, Don't Throw Stones took its impetus from the four-song EP released in the U.K. earlier in 1979, a veritable "best-of" digest that opened with what remains the Sports' finest hour, "Who Listens to the Radio?." Two further songs from the EP ("Suspicious Minds" and "So Obvious") reappear on the album, while Arista also chose to cull three songs from the Aussie release, and replace them with numbers from the band's debut, Reckless. The substitutions don't show. The Sports boasted a remarkably consistent sound throughout their career, with their earliest albums in particular snapping seamlessly into the box marked "new wave pop." It is unfair, however, to see them compared to Joe Jackson, when the Sports were sounding like this some time before Jackson really got going. Rather, they draw from the same wellspring of inspiration as he did: a little bit Costello, a little bit Graham Parker, a little bit Tom Petty (from the days when his Heartbreakers were still being marketed as a new wave act in their own right), and so on. But "Who Listens to the Radio" marks out the band's own strengths, with "Wedding Ring" and "Mailed It to Your Sister" both bringing up the rear in fine style. A word, too, for "Big Sleep," the album's closer and positively the most unexpectedly downbeat finale that any so-called pop album has ever employed. [An Australian version of the album was also released.] ~ Dave Thompson


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