1971’s Spark Plug finds guitarist Melvin Sparks at his finest, as he delivers laid-back, late-night grooves. The guitarist, who began his career as a member of The Upsetters (the storied road band which once counted Jimi Hendrix and Little Richard among its members), initially rose through ranks in the NYC soul-jazz scene as one of the most in-demand session players. The guitarist proved his prowess as a leader with his 1970 debut, Sparks!, on which he was joined by some of the biggest names in the genre. Spark Plug continues the thread, with the likes of Grover Washington, Jr. on tenor sax, Idris Muhammad on drums, Leon Spencer on organ, and engineer Rudy Van Gelder at the console. The album also finds Sparks expanding his writing, and dedicating a good portion of the album to his own material, including such standout tracks as “Dig Dis,” the cinematic “Conjunction Mars,” and the title track, which builds into a nearly nine-minute energetic jam, showcasing Sparks’ virtuosic talents on the guitar. Sparks also delivers renditions of two very disparate selections: Kool & The Gang’s “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight” and the Schwartz/Dietz-penned jazz standard, “Alone Together.”

Melvin Sparks – Spark Plug

Release Date:
August 10, 2022

Side A

Who’s Gonna Take The Weight
Spark Plug

Side B

Conjunction Mars
Alone Together
Dig Dis


Artwork [Cover] – Tony Lane
Drums – Idris Muhammad
Engineer – Rudy Van Gelder
Guitar – Melvin Sparks
Lacquer Cut By – Kevin Gray
Liner Notes – Tom Curry
Organ – Leon Spencer Jr.* (tracks: A1), Reggie Roberts (tracks: A2 to B3)
Producer – Bob Porter
Tenor Saxophone – Grover Washington Jr.*
Trumpet – Virgil Jones