KAKUTOPIA

Radioactive Sparrow: Will & Dr. Edwards (1982)

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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.

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Personnel:
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

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Written by Gustav Thomas

November 7, 2009 at 11:30 am

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