“Weird Al” Yankovic takes being funny very seriously. From his prodigious accordion chops on the accordion to the diligence he takes to obtain permission from his parody subjects, Yankovic’s humorous constructions are surprisingly involved and thorough. His approach has quite a bit in common with Sparks, the long-running art pop duo comprised of brothers Ron and Russell Mael. Like Yankovic, the Mael brothers are longtime Los Angeles denizens and pursue their hilarity with a kind of sharp focus and discipline; they’ve released twenty-four frank and tightly constructed records, with many of their recent releases entirely self-produced. Their connection was affirmed earlier this year with Weird Al’s appearance in The Sparks Brothers, a revelatory new music documentary produced by Edgar Wright. Yankovic appears in the film as a talking head on numerous occasions, but his most enthralling — and “serious” — contribution to the film is a solo accordion cover of Sparks’ wild “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the Both of Us.”
Yankovic’s cover provides a de facto score for The Sparks Brothers’ prologue, building some tension as a series of Sparks acolytes (among them, Flea and Beck) introduce the band’s history and pose some of the open questions that the documentary will seek to answer. For the occasion of the film’s recent Blu-Ray release, the performance was extracted and shared on its own — shot in Richard Avedon-style greyscale, adding some gravitas to the seriously funny occasion. It’s clear Yankovic is a loving fan himself in the video, building a full arrangement from the ground-up on just solo accordion. In the recently-released video’s description, Yankovic recounts: “Edgar asked me to bring my accordion to the Q&A session and perform the Sparks classic for him, and I gladly obliged. I’m sure I could have played it better, but Edgar was happy with the first take – one and done, baby!”
The Sparks Brothers documentary is available worldwide now. Check out Weird Al’s Sparks cover below.