Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Hit the North (West)

Paul Morley's new Manchester and Liverpool compilation North By Northwest dropped through my letterbox the other day, and in between the familiar (Joy Divison, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Fall, Pale Fountains) and the frankly unfamiliar (Bette Bright and the Illuminations, Spherical Objects, a solo track by a pre-Bunnymen Will Sergeant), there's a lot of stuff I probably should have heard but that has always somehow eluded me. Like Ludus. Like Care. And like Lori and the Chameleons.

Label-mates of Teardrop Explodes and Big In Japan, they were signed to Bill Drummond and Dave Balfe's Zoo Records, at least for their first single Touch. Which is unsurprising, seeing as Bill and Dave were two-thirds of Lori and the Chameleons. The other third was Lori Larty, currently residing in the "Where Are They Now?" files. Dave Balfe later went on to infamy as head of Food Records, before going off to live in a Country House, while Bill D. went on to keep Abba's lawyers busy as one half of the KLF, but not before foisting Ian McCullough and Julian Cope on a grateful nation. Talking of the Drood, his Head Heritage site has a review of Touch that I can't possibly improve upon, so I'll merely link to it here.

What I couldn't help noticing while listening to Touch, though, is the similarity to another Liverpool band of recent vintage. The half-spoken female vocals, the plinky-plonky keyboards, the references to cliched teenage rebel tropes (motorcycles, blue jeans etc.)....yes, Lori and her Chameleons were clearly the prototype for Scouse futurists Ladytron. Though they wear their influences on their black PVC sleeves (Roxy Music, Sparks etc.), I've never heard them cop to a fondness for Lori and the Chameleons. Maybe they never heard them. Maybe it's something in the Merseyside water. But the similarities are there; compare and contrast below.

Download Ladytron-Blue Jeans (deleted Feb 2007--sorry!)

Download Lori and the Chameleons-Touch (deleted Feb 2007--sorry!)

Buy Ladytron.

Buy North by Northwest.


lilbeethoven said...

I actually went to school with Lori Larty, she came from the posh end of Huyton (Roby). When she left she went to Art School in Liverpool. Lori and the chameleons only made 2 singles. Touch and lonely spy. Lori was going out with a member of Dead or Alive at the time, though they were then called Nightmares in wax. Probably married with kids now

irkthepurists said...

Thanks for the tip! Did the second single come out on Zoo too? I hear so many stories about musicians exiting the biz broke, embittered or addicted (often all three), that one sincerely hopes someone as perky as Ms. Larty is now happily ensconced in married bliss or similar.

Nice name, BTW, Mr(?) Beethoven. I really should put some Sparks up here. I will soon.

Agnes Strange said...

My copy of "The Lonely Spy" is up in the loft, and I couldn't be arsed fetching it. My memory is that it was on Korova. The B-Side, IMHO, was even better. "Peru" featured The Red Army Choir (or so it sounded) a bass drum, and Lori breathlessly telling us about her search for the Incas. Marvelous! (And from the picture sleeve for Touch, Lori was a hottie.)