Radioactive Sparrow – You Keep A Rockin (1987)

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It’s worth listening to this as a document of transition and what happened, but by and large it’s a dud. This is partly because the sound is particularly bad, not just in terms of the actual sound quality, but also because the mix was especially careless. Above all, though, it can be seen as a lesson not to renege on the basic principle of Kak which is an absolute resistance to prescription. Because Bargefoot and Stews were guilty here of deliberately trying to recapture the gritty post-punk rockism of 1986’s They Don’t Really Mind The Pubes. You mustn’t do that and here’s where they really learnt it.

Radioactive Sparrow’s method of recording by one-shot capture never really worked for a bigger line-up than three-piece, in the Hut anyway. They Don’t Really Mind The Pubes was a quartet session which they only just pulled off; You Keep A Rockin, like Double-Top… almost a year later (both quintets), suffered from the vocals getting lost in the volume of a full-band-with-drums. For both those albums, the band took the unprecedented step of dubbing additional lead vocal tracks with a portastudio over the two-track Panasonic tapes for a handful of songs where the vocals were so buried that the lyrics were indiscernible.

There is some good material on here, albeit marred by the sound issues. Unsurprisingly, though, tracks from a the two sessions not selected ended up being better than what was chosen for the album, and these form the bulk of the later-released Bollocks Bollocks Bollocks Vol. 1, the next series of flipside-offcuts. Stand-outs include Stews’s paean to early Sparrow, ‘Lonesome Mo More,’ and ‘Boyes, You’re A Woman,’ but the final selection, ‘Lyrict Abortion’ was something of a travesty – the ever resourceful and imaginative Stews was weaving a vocal on the too-quiet amp system, while Brooce and Bill, close-up, rubbished the song with puerile and obtuse mondigreens of Stews’s lyrics. Part of their reason for doing this was their wilful undermining of Stews’s hope of sending tapes to John Peel. On the title track (not selected because it wasn’t good enough, though it turns up on Bollocks Bollocks Bollocks Vol. 1), Bargefoot pointlessly shouts ‘cunt!’ half way through, just to scupper the song’s validity.

Let’s move on to 1988…


  1. Sik Uma Pile O Booley
  2. Lonesome No More
  3. Black Eye Blue
  4. Banana Tree
  5. O, Marti Caine
  6. Head Between Legs
  7. Whose Cote’s That Jacket
  8. Death In The Family
  9. Boyes, You’re A Woman
  10. Lyrict Abortion


Brooce Boyes
Heaving Stews
Bill Bargefoot
plus Owen Powell on track 3
& Katrin Howell on tracks 1 & 6
& Jonny Valabjhi on track 6




Written by Gustav Thomas

May 7, 2012 at 4:51 pm

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