Radioactive Sparrow – Burst! (The Hidden Real Truth Behind Angwitch’s Secrets) (1989)

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Regular visitors to the online Kak circus will be familiar now with Sparrow’s rule of exceptions whereby the material initially considered the least worthwhile when putting an album together turns out to be stronger and more interesting than what’s originally favoured. In the case of Burst! we’re now two layers deep, a whole album of rejects already having been mounted and framed as Blood, Piss & Burps, whose content was deemed album-worthy soon enough to give it a series number (43), but by the time the forgotten material here was rediscovered, some 6 months later, the band had already moved on past album 47, and were deep into the portoman era. Rather than making it an album b-side (which wasn’t so practical with hour-long helpings, since C120s are notoriously chewsome and snap-happy) Burst! has always been considered an alternative album 43, even though, out of the three albums they ground out at the Angwitch session in January, this turns out to be at least the other two’s equal.

The first three songs clear up the last of the fucked-tape, flat-battery session (which provided no numbers at all for Blood, Piss & Burps), probably the strongest tracks from that sitting. ‘During War Time’ is so wonky that, even while it makes a great track now, it’s really hard to tell what it would have really sounded like – certainly it seems to be an exceptionally inventive performance which the trio were very eager to listen back to, so consequently this would have exacerbated their dismay at its bent capture, a moment of poetic greatness lost to the indifferent motor of their beloved Panasonic. Then we get three unfinished, aborted attempts from the main day-time Hut session, followed by three complete songs from same. The second of these, ‘A Big Lorry Full Of Sand & Gravel’ is an early Gage stunner, shaped by his classic sardonic take on the ordinary. The album closes out with two final pieces from the small hours, Stews’s percussion on ‘Oh Darlin” way ahead of its contemporary attitudinal post. Rendingly, this is Emma 100-Fingers last appearance until the band’s 80th offering, Brownstar, the following century.


  1. Elast
  2. Undies Per Chance
  3. During War Time
  4. Ethyl
  5. Ladies Charm
  6. Rocking For Your Mother-In-Law
  7. My Best Friend’s Girlfriend Reads Minds
  8. A Big Lorry With A Delivery Of Sand & Gravel
  9. Customer & Long
  10. Oh Darlin’
  11. Dockland Fantastic


Emma 100-Fingers
Heaving Stews
Tony Gage
Bill Bargefoot

Recorded in the Hut 8 January 1989


Written by Gustav Thomas

May 13, 2012 at 6:24 pm

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