Radioactive Sparrow – Festive Sex (1984)

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Another important transition that follows on from the grounding provided by Death Of Prefoetus’s rockish prattle, further setting down precedential markers for later elaboration, chiseling hooks into the gaudy rock face of rock’s face. The opening track, “Faulty Towers,” has some adventure to it, Bargefoot’s willful detuning of the guitar, Boyes’s looping of grooved quirks, Cox’s desire to drum just a fraction beyond the bored at. And here, the band’s first go at acknowledging Xmas in the manner of seasonal froth pap, Cox burbling out a brilliantly off-centre, not-even-surreal smudging of the UK’s favourite C-service opener. Then the first of two long indulgences, Brooce’s pointless farewell note to Bridgend on the occasion of his mother’s relocation to the Cardiff suburb of Rhiwbina, pathetically renaming it “Vagina” in the album’s first volley of fatuous obscenity.

Where this album really cuts a new-ass whole is in what was the old Side Two, given over to an unusually intoxicated late-night session in the living room of 6, Adamsdown Place, Cardiff (look for it – it’s still there). Heaving Stews apparently had a jones for stirring Bargefoot into ever-escalating bouts of puerile pornographics which very soon became quite painful listening. But Stews was right, and a lot of the actual music was good, and, most importantly, it dragged the band into genuinely abstract extended territories that they would rapidly feel quite comfortable in – something reflected much more convincingly on Festive Sex’s follow-up, Not On My Balaclava, You Bastard. The awful denouement of “Astrolabe” comes with the lurid “smells very fishy to me” chorus. Thing is, while this can only ever remain congealed in the gooey residues of adolescent puerility, it is also nonetheless true that the band’s peers/social circle listened to this album a lot; Bill even had a girlfriend who insisted on him crooning the “fishy” chorus in bed… There’s probably something important about that.

The next album is where it all really takes off, though…


1)     Faulty Towers
2)     One’s In Royal Dai’s City
3)     Jon’ Moved House
4)     The Indians Are Coming
5)     Dog Biscuit
6)     Kak Anthem
7)     Astrolabe
8)     High Kak Caliber: Bill & Brooce’s Summing Up

Recorded in the Hut, Ewenny, and at 6, Adamsdown Place, Cardiff, December 1984

Bill Bargefoot
Brooce Boyes
Dai Cox
Heaving Stews



Written by Gustav Thomas

September 3, 2010 at 2:00 pm

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