ALMOST THERE | ISSUE FIVE
An obscure indie track from Mr Brezhnev’s personal collection
No. 2: Lori and the Chameleons, ‘The Lonely Spy.’
Back in the good old days of the Cold War, the ‘Red Menace’ always seemed to be out there somewhere, lurking in the background. If it wasn’t the ever-present threat of mutual nuclear annihilation, you’d keep getting news of some depressing proxy war being prosecuted in Africa or Asia, and closer to home there’d be the occasional spy scandal to remind you that there really might be a Red under your bed.
Given all that, I suppose it’s quite surprising that the Cold War didn’t feature a little more prominently in the music of the day; Blondie’s ‘Contact in Red Square’ is of course a notable exception. Another is Lori and the Chameleons’ second single ‘The Lonely Spy’ - a different take on Iron Curtain espionage that came out on the Korova label in 1980.
As far as I can tell, Lori and the Chameleons were a studio-only project rather than a ‘real’ band, nevertheless I have a real soft spot for them. Firstly I love the single. Secondly, they occupy an important place in the Liverpool post-punk scene of the late 1970’s.
The Chameleons behind singer Lori Lartey were David Balfe and Bill Drummond. Both had been in legendary punk band Big in Japan. When Big in Japan split up in 1978 the pair went on to found Zoo Records, one of the coolest independent labels of the entire new wave. Zoo released Lori and the Chameleons’ first single ‘Touch,’ but the label is perhaps best known for ‘The Pictures on my Wall,’ the first ever single by Echo and the Bunnymen, and for the first two vinyl releases by The Teardrop Explodes. Balfe joined the Teardrops as keyboard player and Drummond went on to manage them. Sadly I have no idea what became of Lori Lartey. Perhaps she joined the security services…
Click on the Dansette to listen
to The Lonely Spy