Radioactive Sparrow – Pantsful Of Cherries Vol. V (School, Sex & Soap Trilogy Part Three) (1987)

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The Pantsful Of Cherries series began in early 1985 as off-cut, would-be B-side and ‘rare cuts’ compilations, named (perhaps obviously) in reference to the Smiths’Hatful Of Hollow, which had served a similar purpose (though in Sparrow’s case there were no Peel Sessions to release, of course). The key thing is that they were not to be considered albums proper and therefore were not assigned an album number. In September 1987, the trio had several productive sessions during which they decided early on that at least two thematic continuities were emerging which would yield separate albums: collective nostalgia for school and overtly puerile lewdness, loosely connected to Stews’s (mistreated) desire to pay homage to Lenny Bruce. Songs that fit neither category were bundled together as a Pantsful… Vol.5 by default, but because these constituted at least as worthy a collection as either Schoolie Memriesor Wall To Wall Tits & Ass the band decided it had to be an album proper and therefore would complete a trilogy of early-autumn kakophonic endeavours. Quite why the ‘soap’ conclusion to the trilogy should be called Pantsful rather than something more fittingly iconic like Bateman, Bateman, Blurgh or Troubled Geniusremains unclear and has long been forgotten.

The conclusion to the School, Sex & Soap trilogy was originally arbitrarily designated thus because the band apparently thought a soap opera theme would emerge, but it didn’t. Perhaps it can be interpreted as the band cutting to the quick, clinically unsettling the oily grimes of nostalgia and adolescent voyeur fantasy that characterised the previous two framings. Because, for much of the album there’s an efficiency to proceedings that was unusually exacting. For the most part it is a classic, at times showing the band at the very peak of its first-phase, pre-Gage powers. Tracks like ‘Troubled Genius,’ ‘Scadge’ and ‘Bot, In Honeyman’s Dream’ have a startlingly lucid efficiency, suggesting a band so comfortable, now, with the practice of producing essentially fully-formed compositions without either prior discussion or preparation, they’ve long since not given it a second thought. Perhaps more significantly, the songs’ structures are often a clear departure from the more conventional verse-chorus forms previously slummed by the group, slightly presaging the formal adventurism that the Tony Gage era would usher in. It is also significant that most the songs (certainly the best ones) feature Heaving Stews on lead vocal – his increasingly central role was to prove crucial over the ensuing year as the band entered a period of fragile transition.

As a way of recounting the whole, gruesome tale of Radioactive Sparrow, this post is supplemented by all four previous volumes of Pantsful Of Cherries, much of which contain material never before listened to outside the band. Volume I was never properly issued to anyone, and is unquestionably the weakest of the set, dredging up as it does the remainder of those drunken, post-pub Adamsdown front room songs that were not included on either Festive Sex or Not On My Balaclava, You Bastard.Volume II was issued as the B-side of the C-90 cassette of Oh Yeah! Oh Wow!  Volume IV was similarly the C-90 tape flip for His Y-Fronts Are On The Music. The fourth volume was labelled as such by mistake, the band having forgotten how many of these they had accumulated (or vaguely assumed that 1986 had spawned such surplus, which it had). As a result, Volume III contains music from 1986 and ended up being issued as the other side of Kak Šereč. While I, II IV sound very much like out- take selections from the albums whose sessions they were squeezed from, Volume IIIactually contains material far more interesting and revealing that either Mystery Turdor Kak Šereč. ‘The Garden Drawer,’ with its archaic harmonium and reverb-drenched announcements sounds like nothing else the band ever did, while ‘Angora’ (from theKak Šereč sessions) sees Dai Cox on more inspired form than ever, using randomly grabbed fragments from magazines lying around the room as lyrical spurs. Oddly, he also suggests ‘this is the last song I’ll ever sing’ – which turned out to be pretty much the case. The idea of partially obscuring, while still assembling, surplus material would live on with the three Bollocks, Bollocks, Bollocks collections of 1988; by 1989, however, such content (from Blood, Piss & Burps and Burst onwards) would always be released, proving increasingly to be better than what the band would initially select.

Tracklisting for Pantsful of Cherries Vol. V:

  1. Go, Go, Go, Go Home, Home, Home
  2. The Troubled Genius
  3. Sick Form Days
  4. Orange & Yellow
  5. The Wrecker’s Return
  6. Foxy On Beck Trot
  7. Dangerous Places
  8. Scadge
  9. Bot, In Honeyman’s Dream
  10. Oosch
  11. Cow Cow End
  12. Gareth Dismissal

Personnel for Pantsful of Cherries Vol. V:
Heaving Stews
Brooce Boyes
Bill Bargefoot
plus Niklus on track 1


Tracklisting for Pantsful of Cherries Vol. IV:

  1. Ill For Colour (Too Big, Too Small)
  2. Something For Afterwards (Farming For Facts)
  3. Oh Sally
  4. Boy Scout Salad
  5. Ear Drums Beat Music
  6. Chopstick Willy
  7. Bring Back Neandertal
  8. Mummy Mummy Poo Poo
  9. A Monk’s Pair O’ Balls In The Morning
  10. Subversive Suburban
  11. Outspan Grapefruit (Alt. Edit)

Personnel for Pantsful of Cherries Vol. IV:

Daheek Ox/Dai Cox
Bill Bargefoot
Brooce Boyes
Heaving Stews
with Jason Davies on track 9


Tracklisting for Pantsful of Cherries Vol. III:

  1. The Garden Drawer
  2. Porous Hack
  3. Biology
  4. Record & Tape Value
  5. Chemistry
  6. Interlude One
  7. Angora
  8. Physics
  9. I Don’t Take Pills For My Face (Maria & Tracie-Ann Discuss)
  10. Poor Jon (Live)
  11. Psychics
  12. Interlude Two
  13. St. David’s Day
  14. Blow-Job Bob (Came Down From The Mountain Side)
  15. I’ll Never Forget Tonight
  16. Electronics
  17. Turd Kitchen Aftermath

Personnel for Pantsful of Cherries Vol. III:

Daheek Ox/Dai Cox
Bill Bargefoot
Brooce Boyes
Heaving Stews
with Jason Davies on tracks 3,5,8,11 & 16
and Maria Crisp & Tracie-Ann Jones on track 9


Tracklisting for Pantsful of Cherries Vol. II:

  1. Seymon Prestan
  2. Sara Nurse
  3. Open My Eyes
  4. Endo Of The Line (Africa’s Hole)
  5. Jelly (Re-Edit For Becky’s Party)
  6. If I Knew You Better
  7. The Man Of Dog Supreme
  8. Broken Baby, Chicken Lady
  9. Ripe With Confusion

Personnel for Pantsful of Cherries Vol. II:

Daheek Ox/Dai Cox
Bill Bargefoot
Brooce Boyes
Heaving Stews
plus David Hughes on tracks 1,2, 6 & 8


Tracklisting for Pantsful of Cherries Vol. I:

  1. Window Fart
  2. Are You Aware Of The Newness Of Man
  3. Interview With Owen
  4. Wet
  5. Billy’s Complex
  6. Penu
  7. Priest Of Danger
  8. Billy’s Anus (Remix)
  9. Dog Biscuit (First Version Without Overbub)
  10. Spunk In My Bunk
  11. Blue Muesli
  12. Maria’s Head Is A Basket Of Eggs

Personnel for Pantsful of Cherries Vol. I:

Daheek Ox/Dai Cox
Bill Bargefoot
Brooce Boyes
Heaving Stews



Written by Gustav Thomas

May 6, 2012 at 7:35 pm

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