Archive for November 2009
1992-93 is a period that is retrospectively most remarkable for the Radioactive Sparrow movies Deep Cop and Deep Cop 2: Too Deep A Cop. Both movies were written and directed by Tony Gage. Gage is a compulsive and perpetually engaged artist of true genius. He joined Radioactive Sparrow in 1988 over a year after the break-up of Grenade. His first solo album, 4-Track Recordings will be posted on Kakutopia just as soon as the original masters can be digitized and remixed.
This Is It! is the first of the two ‘Sierra Era’ albums and was partly intended as a tribute to early Sparrow: it is almost entirely made with overdubs made by playing back a previous track in front of the microphone of another tape recorder while recording the next track, a standard practice for early Sparrow post-production. The inclusion here of a chunk of Brian Johnson-era AC/DC doing ‘Highway to Hell’ live is a direct reference to the track ‘Genesis’ on The Nicaragua Tapes (1982) which was itself 10 minutes or so straight out of Trick of the Tail.
This Is It!’s centerpiece is the 19-minute ‘JESUS CHRIST’ for which he is joined by Andrew (Bernard) Harrison for part-rehearsed kitchen renditions of songs from Jesus Christ Superstar which they had both listened to avidly as kids.
Tony Gage – all instruments except ‘JESUS CHRIST’ featuring Andrew Harrison
Recorded by Tony Gage in Roath, Cardiff, Autumn 1992.
Album no. 5 is the true dawn of Kak. As far as the members of Radioactive Sparrow were concerned, ‘Long Live the Kak With H2O’ was the watershed, the year zero of Kak itself – Will & Dr. Edwards also consequently transformed the band’s reputation at school from allegedly serious rockers to arty weird-asses just in time for sixth form to make that the height of generally unattainable cool.
The band had been through a long period (1981-82) in which they had foolishly dreamt of an American Bostonism, Bill’s Delp to Boyes’s Scholz. The metamorphosis occurred over the summer that followed their ‘O’ levels. Boyes II men. First of all, Boyes’s despair at Bargefoot’s musical unruliness, secondly a fuller understanding of early Sparrow’s greatness – to the extent that they went back to Ozzy cap-in-hand to ask his forgiveness and get him to rejoin – for a tenner (the mists of time have obscured whether this was to be a one-off fee or a weekly wage). Because, anyway, he refused, having become decidedly (and permanently) skeptical of the whole endeavour. A third, important development, is the band’s first use of willfully substandard or defunct instrumentation. The acoustic guitar that is heard at the start of this album was the first official ‘Kak Guitar”, a donation by a parent-friend, clearly (or maybe not) deluded as to its functionality – the strings were at least an inch and a half away from the frets mid-neck. The electric guitar heard later (e.g. ‘Bathroom Fever’) is the first of many ‘Woolworths’ guitars (in this case an Audition) used by the band. It was later resprayed lime green and its neck, defretted, became the neck of the legendary hybrid ‘cat-puke’ guitar of the late ’80s.
As an overall album, though, this is not a bona fide classic. There is too much a sense of ‘cleaning out’ in the track selection – 81-82 mainstays such as ‘Pardon Me (While I Go For A Crap)’, ‘Next’ and ‘So Strange’ – most extreme in the Stars On 45 tribute,, ‘Sparrow On 45,’ which medleys together loads of early Sparrow songs, including several from the now lost composed albums TV Rental and Criminal Records.
Sparrow’s notoriety grew following this album’s release (i.e. hand-out). The album attracted the attention of a class mate who was involved in Bridgend Hospital Radio. The guy came and interviewed Bargefoot and Boyes and even recorded an exclusive session, neither of which ended up being broadcast. The tapes are now lost, but the Hospital Radio rep became involved with the band first of all as a critic/mentor, encouraging them further from path of ordinary pop, eventually joining the group as Heaving Stews.
Brooce Boyes – guitar, bass, keyboards, voice
Bill Bargefoot – guitar, keyboards, drums, voice
Dai Cox – bass, piano, drums
Eddie Fergule – drums (fictional member)
Marc Zeller-Maier – guest vocal for ‘Spirit of Radio’
Recorded in the Hut and the Study, Spring/Summer 1982
A very confused period of transition delivers probably Radioactive Sparrow’s least inspired and most unrewarding album. Delusions of professionalism and seriousness briefly led to composition on the part of Brooce Boyes, desperate to emulate his rocker-now-accountant brother who, while a student, had played in a covers band that once even played to an audience of 2,000. Supposedly. He was a dull fella (Brooce’s brother), by and large, but fair go he did save Bargefoot one night at a party at Bridgend Rugby club where the two Sparrow guitarists had gone in Boyes’s hope of encharming one Claire Raymond, a ‘strawberry blonde’ who lived at Ewenny Pottery and for whom brooce had a fixation. His fixation was ordinary – Ms. Raymond’s outward appearance was generally in line with what mainstream entertainment touted as being ‘attractive female.’ He penned a song for her, featured here as ‘Working Girl’, hilariously so-titled in apparent ignorance of that term’s argot connotations, which makes for a wicked irony given the overt would-be sweetness with which Brooce delivers his vocal.
Anyway, at this party, Claire Raymond had come along with her best friend, a girl whose name escapes me now, with whom Bargefoot was expected to dance as gooseberried court-stooge while Boyes utterly botched his chance to canoodle and cloy. The dancing exercise did, however, raise the ire of one Paul Bevington, notoriously violent Bridgend ‘Maffo’ boy, who approached Bargefoot after said dance and blurted, ‘You’re tall and you’re ugly.’ To which Bargefoot replied with some flat attempt at witticism. The writing was definitely on the wall, Bargefoot was Maffo toast as per oft-touted chilling Bridgend tales, were it not for the timely arrival of Brooce’s now-fully-accountant brother who whisked them to safety in his golden Capri (gold like his 1976 Les Paul Standard that Bargefoot was later unable to buy for a mere 200 quid). The episode is now embedded in a time of misguided adolescence wherein Boyes famously made his woefully ill-fated attempt to train Bargefoot in the drudgery of mainstream rock covers. The Motors’ ‘Dancing the Night Away’ was the ultimate boggy cringe in a proposed set-list that included ‘Message In A Bottle’ whose riff Bill was persistently incapable of repeating flawlessly again and again, driving Boyes to eventually accept defeat, lamenting, ‘Why don’t we just call it “More Kak from Radioactive Sparrow?”’ His rhetorical question became the imperative for subsequent, glorious developments for the band.
Boyes never scored with the strawb-flooze, but this album retrospectively bears witness to such shambolic times of early 1982, the year that would later spawn Radioactive Sparrow’s first true Kak album, Will & Dr. Edwards, coming next on Kakutopia’s weekly album post!
1) Abortion 2,000
2) Taking the Michael
3) Bowman’s Capsule
4) Like A Ship Becalmed (Bargefoot)
5) Working Girl
6) World Goes Crazy (82)
7) Will Big ‘N’ Bouncy
8) Pardon Me (While I Go For A Crap)
9) Talk To Dai About Caroline (Bargefoot & Cox)
11) Absolute Bollocks & Exhibit A
Brooce Boyes – lead vocals and lead guitar
Bill Bargefoot – Bass, guitar and vocals
Dai Cox – drums and bass
Recorded in the Hut during spring and early summer of 1982. ‘Produced’ by Brooce Boyes.