Radioactive Sparrow – T.C. The Collection (1985)

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T.C. The Collection
was a step outside the pattern in that it featured (in Brooce Boyes’s absence) Jason ‘Jas’ Davies. Jason, a painter and printmaker (whose current work can be found at http://www.jasondprints.com and http://digitaldialogues.co.uk) was Bargefoot’s best mate; they drove about a lot between Cardiff, Bridgend, Porthcawl and Ogmore with music on the whole time, a steady rotation of the Fall, the Smiths, Joy Division, Ha Ha the Electorate/Grenade and (loads of) Radioactive Sparrow. There was never any thought that Jason was joining the band; his involvement here seems to have been a one-off experiment to make a bunch of material that was unique in the band’s overall output.

This album was the first of many that integrated studio recordings with live (concert) cuts. Radioactive Sparrow took a long time to feel comfortable gigging: it wasn’t until 1987 that they started transferring their in-house, spontaneous song-making skills to the concert setting. Before then they would turn up at wherever they were invited (not a frequent circumstance) and either bash through previous songs from memory or simply splurge chaos without retaining much structural consciousness while delivering. The latter kind is definitely what in evidence here, a concert given for Emma Davies’s birthday in Bryn-Menin, in the hills behind Bridgend, on the 2nd June. What’s remarkable now is how much it resembles so much noise music that has been made since the turn of the millennium; also, it’s quite special in the way the band seems to porously absorb elements (and the guests) of the party itself, vocalists, guitarists and drummers drifting in and out of songs, increasing the overall abstract nature of the recorded material. The stand-out track (in terms of conventional values, that is) is ‘Hayfever.’ The band played in the garden at the back of the house which overlooked a field of freshly cut grass; Jason suffered very badly from hay fever, and sang this from the balcony on the first floor, his face horribly swollen (his eyes almost forced shut), tears streaming down his face – what his lyrics describe, then, was real. The other live cuts are interesting for the way they foreshadow the avant attitude of much later (Gage-era) Sparrow, not least in strong performances by Stews.

Alongside the gig songs, the album is made up of a single session recorded the same day, before leaving, that features Jason as lead vocalist throughout (except for a brief cameo from his then-girlfriend Kate Taylor) where he reads from assorted texts (including Bargefoot’s diary, something the band would return to often in future). For no apparent reason, three miniatures also appear in the sequence which feature Bargefoot solo, cramming verse lyrics into the short time provided by a Casio VL-Tone 1’s memory function.


1.     Village Bike
2.     I Gotta
3.     Fuck This, Fuck That
4.     Secrets
5.     Happy Birthday Emma
6.     Roundabouts
7.     Strokes of Love
8.     Quiet Please We’re Rollin’
9.     Futurist Wanker
10.  Spunky Glue
11.  Roll & Roll
12.  Hayfever
13.  Itchy
14.  Bok
16.  Bettws (Genital Flowers)
17.  Simon Is A Crimp
18.  Happy Birthday Emma (Two)
19.  37th Week
20.  Duvet


Jas Davies
Bill Bargefoot
Heaving Stews
Dai Cox
Lee ‘Pixie’ Williams (‘Geddy’)
Kate Taylor
Vicky Moore

Recorded June 1985 at the Old Mill and Fox Hollows, Bryn Menin



Written by Gustav Thomas

October 24, 2010 at 8:47 pm

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