Radioactive Sparrow – Kak Sereč (1986)

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Unless you really want to know every detail of the Sparrow saga, don’t bother downloading this one. No, really – save your broadband usage, spare yourself the ordeal. It’s not even accidentally ‘good’ despite itself. Its only worth is in illustrating how incredibly low the group could sink only months after the triumph that was They Don’t Really Mind the Pubes. With Mystery Turd the irrepressible joy with which the session was conducted had sort of let them off the hook, but here there’s no redeeming feature at all.

If there is actually one song that is almost OK it is ‘I Can See Nothing But Sex,’ in which Heaving Stews, as he does throughout the album, excels, but here, for once he is given the space to show his class. Quite how he came up with the insane vocal sound he uses here is impossible to determine – it is quite visionary. His lyrics here are also as sexually depraved as Bargefoot’s elsewhere, whose wanton immaturity is woefully exposed, Stews showing he is several classes ahead of the rest of the group, something none of them were even able to begin to appreciate at the time.

And, of course, it is Dai Cox’s last appearance (except for a very brief cameo on 1987’s Gordon Bennett). Quite why Radioactive Sparrow and Dai Cox parted company is now unclear: certainly it was a period where Cox was becoming much more serious about his career, and late 1986 revealed plans to go and work for Powersport (his Bridgend employers since leaving tech) in the USA. Apparently, the American trip never happened, but the parting it lathered among the band’s members seems to have precipitated a permanent split. In terms of his bowing out of Kak, let Cox’s swansong be embodied in the heights he reached with the two previous albums – even though Mystery Turd is no classic, his performance on it is every bit as classy as previous outings. He completely baffled his band mates (and to some extent, bemused them, through an overt homophobia) with his only vocal on the album, ‘Jaffrey,’ which suddenly, and quite out of character and out of keeping with the overall spirit, is a vitriolic and paranoid outpouring against an invented paedophile, Jeffrey. The song’s lyric starts as a bizarre depiction of Jeffrey which appears to show some sympathy for a psychological condition beyond the his control, before descending into an all-out damning with ‘You’re just a fucking POOFTAH!’ More the shame because the song has some of the best music on the album, Bargefoot’s keyboard apparently imagining the kind of celebratory tone Cox exhibits on … Turd, sparring with some truly impressive use of bottle neck and whammy bar by Stews on the Kak guitar.

The immanent sexual tensions and repressions finally overflow in the last song, ‘Perfect Fanny/Up The Stairs’ in which Cox and Bargefoot set off on a tour around the house and front drive, riffing some crap refrains while almost impressively improvising with found resources such as the car roof and a coffee grinder.

Like the Soviet resistance at the siege of Stalingrad, the band ultimately prevail in epic style with The Final Conflict, a reclaiming of lost aesthetic ground that would change the course of Kak history forever.

Random extras: this was the first album to be recorded entirely at Heaving Stews’s house (something that wouldn’t happen again until 1999 with Sometimes Music Can Be So Modern It’s Almost Unbearable); here again, as with the previous two albums, it was deemed necessary to replace a missing member with a guest, in this case Stews’s brother David. On the original credits, his name is followed by ‘not much help’ in brackets.




1.     I Am Man
2.     Tampest
3.     Jaffrey
4.     I Never Loved No One But Me
5.     I Can See Nothing But Sex
6.     Perfect Fanny/Up The Stairs



Dai Cox
Heaving Stews
Bill Bargefoot
David Hughes (not much help)

Recorded at Heaving Stews’s house, 16th August 19



Written by Gustav Thomas

November 14, 2010 at 8:25 pm

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