Sons and Daughters of No New York: Eight Eyed Spy

THE DEATH of George Scott seems almost certain to precipitate the breakup of Eight Eyed Spy. Scott wasn’t just a highly individual, perhaps irreplaceable instrumentalist; he was also a key theoretician and motivating spirit behind the Spy’s mlnd-warping fusion of careening nouveau-surf music and the kind of slashing, asymmetrical rock and roll pioneered by Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band and Richard Hell’s Void-Oids.

The group’s August dates at TR3 and Hurrah were widely reported to be Lydia Lunch’s last performances with Eight Eyed Spy. She’d be leaving the band, the rumors said, to move to Los Angeles… to Philadelphia… to travel alone around the country… to write a novel… to make movies. In fact, Eight Eyed Spy’s future was bright, and they knew it. In July, the band had completed a surprisingly wide-ranging and successful U.S. tour, as well as three well-received gigs in northern Italy, through which Lydia’s precarious health held up nicely. If no substantial offers from major labels were forthcoming by late fall, producer/engineer Bob Blank stood ready and willing to record an Eight Eyed Spy album at his Blank Tape studio and shop it around the industry. And sources close to the band report that the failure of ZE Records to press and distribute the legally required amount of Lydia’s Queen Of Siam album had freed her from further recording obligations to the label. (At last count, the album had sold approximately 15,000 copies and was virtually out of print in the U.S.)

At this writing, no future plans have been announced, but it seems doubtful that Eight Eyed Spy can survive both George Scott’s death and Lydia’s own wavering commitment. That the group may splinter without ever having recorded is a depressing thought. At the time of George Scott’s death, Eight Eyed Spy was one of America’s most powerful and challenging rock and roll bands. If they go, they will be missed.

© Andy SchwartzNew York Rocker, 8 October 1980

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