Barbie, Let’s Not Party.

Now that Christmas, New Year’s Eve and various other orgies of drunken barbarism are out of the way (at least for a short while), it’s about time we lowered the drawbridge to Skank Towers once again. And what better way to see in this here 2012 than with a luscious serving of punky reggae pop from a woman called Lora?

Although best remembered by many as the languid teenager honking a mean sax on X-ray Spex’s legendary Oh Bondage! Up Yours, it’s clear that Lora Logic had far too much creative zest not to be fronting a troupe of her own, and following her departure from the Spex in 1977, that very troupe swiftly materialized in the form of Essential Logic.

Because their fabulously lateral approach to pop music produced a melange of many ingredients – jazz, punk, disco, ‘world’ music, and, <ahem>, even a dash of trip hop in places – Lora and pals encroached only briefly on reggae territory, first with the woozy Bod’s Message and World Friction, and once again much later with the sharp little number I’m focusing on today.

1998 may seem a little late for an SBB inclusion, but Barbie Be Happy, the slice of plaintive pop recorded that year by a reformed version of the group was too good to pass up.

Albeit decidedly less squonky than their previous output, Barbie is a jewel in the rough of ES’s somewhat lacklustre second wave material. Lora’s manic soprano with age acquired a rasp that makes her delivery of this tale of disillusionment all the more mournful, and even some Sade-esque coffee table jazz sneaks briefly into the mix of tight-snared reggae and jangly punk (no bad thing).

Apparently Barbie was released on a four track e.p. in 2001, though I have never seen a copy, and since the 35 track Fanfare In The Garden CD collects both this e.p. and nearly all the rest of their stupendous back catalogue, I’m sticking with that for now.


(Dread Zed)

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2 Responses to Barbie, Let’s Not Party.

  1. John Henderson says:

    That four-track EP was only available through some start-up music distribution company which (I believe) has long since bitten the dust. You could only order it through the web, and it was a bit on the expensive side if you consider that it was really a sort of promo CD with no actual cover. Lora sent me a tape of material in the early 90s; a song or two ended up on the Kill Rock Stars collection, but there were some which remain unreleased. One of them might be among the best things she ever did . . . it would have been perfect on “Pedigree Charm” had it been recorded back then, as it captured the beauty of “Martian Man” but was somewhat danceable à la “Wonderful Offer,” though a bit more somber. Excellent lyrics, too.

  2. dreadzed says:

    Thanks for the info, John! Let’s hope the track you speak of will see the light of day – if it’s anything like the sublime Martian Man, the world needs to hear it.

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