Radioactive Sparrow – Tiffany (1988)

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Stews and Bargefoot were really excited about Twixt Brackla & Chicago because it heralded a whole new Kak sound, vibe and attitude, much more open and adventurous. Especially given that they’d pulled off a convincing statement without Boyes, they were now equipped with a new belief in their powers, and this was very much responsible for the lucidity and  focus of this offering. The fact that it’s a duo was due to Miss 100-Fingers having finished college and gone back to mid-Wales. One can only, thus, dream of the wonders that that trio might have blessed Preswylfa with in the summer of ’88.

The album starts really confidently with Bargefoot’s forthright acoustic chordal riff and Stews’s spluttering electric on ‘Collapse,’ which, like much of Tiffany was subject to Stews proposing a specific vibe and arrangement before pressing ‘record’; in this respect, the album reads partly as his manifesto for where the band ought to head henceforth (not yet knowing that Boyes would actually not be involved for much longer). It also has an intriguingly dialogical intimacy that serves, now, as a great insight into how they felt Kak ought to behave.
Even though four of the tracks on Tiffany got reused as part of the next album, it’s actually the rest of the songs that turn out to be the strongest material. The duo were so pleased with the lyrical content that they made a songbook out of it in photocopied A4 format. How many copies of this were made is not now recalled, but there’s at least one still extant in Bargefoot’s personal archive.

It’s good stuff, a good album, a worthwhile listen. This is the embryo of the real, mature/later Sparrow, or better still the ovum ripe for impregnating by the seed of Tony Gage. While that might seem like a weird way of looking at it, it was actually exactly nine months between Gage’s first involvement with the band (see album 39) and Rockin’ On The Portoman, the album with which proper Sparrow truly emerges fully formed – that album even features the classic ‘Music For Baby’… Say no more. No, please… Say no more.


  1. Collapse
  2. All Heart
  3. Hoping For Resentment
  4. The Re-Emergence Of The Tupperware Party
  5. Past Uncalled For
  6. Folk Scene
  7. At Dinner
  8. Spinners In March
  9. Your Bum Again
  10. Antique Dealor
  11. Slimy Toad Gotta Go
  12. Second Coming


Heaving Stews
Bill Bargefoot



Written by Gustav Thomas

May 8, 2012 at 6:59 pm

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