Lora Logic – if the drugs don’t work

Not much is known about the early life of Susan Whitby. What is known is that in 1976, when she was just sixteen years old, she answered an ad in Melody Maker asking for ‘punk musicians’. That’s how she became ‘Lora Logic’, the saxophone player in X-Ray Spex, a punk band fronted by Poly Styrene. In a previous post I said that the combination of Lora Logic and Poly Styrene made X-Ray Spex a kind of rock version of St Trinian’s (see here). The following short film clip is very bad quality (it shows the London Roxy Club sometime in 1977, from the Don Letts film ‘The Punk Rock Movie’, and is the only film footage of Lora Logic that I know of), yet it does perhaps give some idea of how talented Lora Logic was, and indeed how she influenced the sound of X-Ray Spex with her saxophone playing…

Lora Logic lasted less than a year in X-Ray Spex. She was getting far too much attention for Poly Styrene’s liking and was fired without notice (her saxophone arrangements were used by another player on the first X-Ray Spex album in 1977, called ‘Germ Free Adolescents’). Somewhat disillusioned with the music biz, Lora went to art college to study photography. However, after a year or so she formed a band with some class mates. They were called Essential Logic and released their first single in 1978. The song is called Aerosol Burns and they put it out under their own label…

The Aerosol Burns single got the attention of Rough Trade records, and they helped Essential Logic to release several singles, EPs and an album called ‘Beat Rhythm News (Waddle Ya Play?)’, released in 1979. This track from the album is called The Order Form (I Want To Order A Pelican)

This next track is called Fanfare in the Garden and is from a 1981 EP called ‘Essential Logic’…

In 1982, Lora Logic released a solo album called ‘Pedigree Charm’. This track from that album is called Rat Alley

The release dates of Lora Logic’s solo work and her work with Essential Logic are all over the place. This could perhaps be down to the rock ‘n roll lifestyle. Lora herself later said that at the time she was doing way too many drugs. In the early 80s she joined the Hare Krishna movement, which probably saved her life. Polly Styrene joined the Krishnas at about the same time, for the same reasons, and the two of them found themselves living a spiritual life in a manor house that George Harrison had given to the Krishnas. This next track from ‘Pedigree Charm’ is called Brute Fury

In 1984, Lora Logic had an arranged marriage at the Krishna temple, and she’s been married to the same man ever since. They have two children. In the intervening years, X-Ray Spex had a brief reunion in the mid 90s, brief because Poly and Lora’s egos clashed again. Lora Logic still makes music, but as she herself said in an interview in 2003: “Now, I feel like I’m more centered and comfortable with who I am. There’s some of the original style there but I’ve evolved to a different being”.

When you look at that old film clip of Lora Logic playing saxophone in the Roxy Club, and the all-too-brief solo career and work with Essential Logic, she has indeed come a long way. This final track is from the ‘Pedigree Charm’ album and is called Martian Man

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