Just Step Sideways: 8 Eyed Spy

Lydia Lunch was never one to stick to a signature sound, so it was hardly surprising to anyone when Teenage Jesus and The Jerks split in the late seventies, and she formed with future composer Pat Irwin and future Nick Cave collaborator Jim Sclavunos, among others, the brilliant 8 Eyed Spy, a swampy, jazzy punky band showcasing a more complex side to Lunch’s spat -out poetry. Tracks like ‘Sorry For Behaving So Badly’ and ‘Motor Oil Shanty’ were dripping with sex, sarcasm and verbal dexterity. Their tribal drums, sax and ricocheting guitar influenced many artists: think of Black Midi, Pozi, Death Valley Girls and Amyl and the Sniffers today.

Their covers were deadpan gems: they took a sharp stiletto to the nuts of Credence Clearwater Revival’s Run Through the Jungle, and I Want Candy was absolutely decimated. It’s great hearing Lydia change the lyrics to absolute filth: “I got candy under my sweater”, indeed. You sure do, baby, plus you’ve got the brains. Their take on Beefheart’s ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ is pretty teasing and hot, too.

But my absolute favourite track was ‘Lazy In Love’, a tongue twister with Lunch on fire, sounding like a frenzied version of the Beats, underpinned by molten saxophone.

Of course, they lasted as long as a wink, Lunch went solo, and the rest is the stuff of legend, but if you should by chance happen upon a rare copy of Roir ‘s cassette, 8 Eyed Spy Live, grab it and never let it out of your sight. It’s absolutely freakin’ fantastic.

Published by loreleiirvine

I'm a freelance arts monkey. Come see my brain vomit.

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