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Radioactive Sparrow – Skorpion Sundy Rising (1988)

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Skorpion Sundy Rising
was recorded before Twixt Brackla & Chicago, in February 1988. Initially not intended to be counted as a Radioactive Sparrow album, it ended up being issued as the C-90 b-side of the Stews and Bargefoot duo outing, Tiffany.

It’s a very self-contained and consistent album, the trio of Bargefoot, 100-Fingers and Jacobs largely keeping to the same instruments. Jacobs is primarily the drummer here, joisting a superbly naïf rhythm section, effectively, with 100-Fingers’s continued exploration of the Yamaha DX9. Above all it precipitates a retrospective craving for Preswylfa’s impossible freedoms, artists living together, essentially, under one roof, with the luxury of a back room that is devoted solely to making improvised pop music. … And, of course, sharing the living space with a corpulent-sociopath Celtic-languages scholar from Germany who would spend long evenings in defiantly flimsy underwear in front of the telly eating jumbo tubs of greek yoghurt and taramasalata – Anna was the inspiration, thus, for various songs (‘Hägar Brünes’ from album 34) and, here, ‘Anna (I Wish) Hagelstein’ (which features a rare vocal contribution from 100-Fingers).
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It’s worth mentioning here (in case the opportunity doesn’t arise later) that the final song, ‘Godfrey (I Know You Are An Artist)’ is (vaguely, briefly, for that lyric and the title) about the former painter Godfrey Meggitt who was an associate of the band for a few years. His place in the band’s mythology is quite important; he saw it as his mission from quite early on to correct what he saw as very talented musicians (Radioactive Sparrow) squandering their gift on obtusely sarcastic efforts when they could otherwise be persuaded to help change the world by making accessible pop with a positive message – like, say, Sean ‘Bono’ Hewson did/does, or REM. Their association came to a bitter end in 1991, following a visit to his studio by Bargefoot and Bernard Harrison (who was then in the band). Meggitt had gotten into one of his heated debates about ‘positive’ music with Bargefoot, and turned desperately to Harrison to support his position, asking, ‘what is the most important music to you?’ To which Harrison replied, slightly hesitant, as if considering the question for the first time, ‘… whatever happens to be in the top 10 at any given point in time.’ It was the last straw for Meggitt, who turned up at Bargefoot’s house early the next day, storming in and grabbing a guitar, shouting, while shaping as if to smash it against the wall, ‘you’re threatened by U2, aren’t you! You feel threatened by them!’ Bargefoot inevitably laughed at the absurdity of the scene, and after a wordless, puffing stand-off, Meggitt put down the guitar and walked out, thus ending his association with the group and any commitment to correct them. He is reputed to have since written a 1000+-page book that includes accounts of his tussles with Radioactive Sparrow, and now runs a sex farm (sex clinic?) in rural West Wales.

There’s something really stoner about Skorpion Sundy Rising that feels very contemporary in the post-millennial age. There was, though, no weed: instead, the vibe must probably be attributed to Miss 100-Fingers’s superb ritual of nipping out to make hot crumpets with honey as fuel for further creative stamina. By the by, in the photo of the back room at Preswylfa featured above, sitting on the smaller tom-tom on the left, is the legendary 1970s National Panasonic radio-cassette that Radioactive Sparrow used to record everything until the spring of 1989.

Tracklisting:

  1. Neighbours In Transit
  2. Lowly Dancer Regress
  3. Loadscape (I Feel Bont Faen)
  4. Dance Like She Bit Yer On The Balls
  5. Anna (I Wish) Hagelstein
  6. Godfrey (I Know You Are An Artist)

Personnel:
Bill Bargefoot
Emma 100-Fingers
Simon Jacobs

Recorded at Preswylfa, February 1988

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Written by Gustav Thomas

May 8, 2012 at 7:14 pm

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