Essential Logic Fanfare in the Garden

Susan Whitby's life story is about as complicated and original as her musical history. In both, she has somehow managed to eschew mainstream popularity and remain under the radar for years, probably only because neither come close to treading the usual path. This is exactly what makes the ex-X-ray Spex saxophonist so irresistibly engaging. Shortly after joining the pre-eminent feminist punk band as an amateur teen with a shiny horn, Whitby (Lora Logic by then) switched paths to head up her own group, Essential Logic. But it was post-"Oh Bondage, Up Yours" that Lora really flexed her creative muscles, procuring an individualised realisation of her own sound. This extensive two-CD reissue follows Essential Logic's career from the original ’78 line-up through to the late ’90s incarnation featuring Blondie's Gary Valentine. The first disc finds Essential Logic at their earliest — fresh-faced, eager fervour shines through on the excitable opening tracks, including the first feisty single, "Aerosol Burns." But the spirited youth were never simply post-punk gusto — informed intelligence accompanies this second-and-a-half-wave scrawling. The latter disc begins with an animated disco-punk track, a trend that continues with a hyped-up happy-go-lucky pace, offset by brilliantly absurdist new wave saxophone squeaks. "On The Internet" and "Barbie Be Happy," reunite in refined pop affluence demonstrating Lora's far-reaching aptitude. Nearing the end, a previously unreleased collaboration with psychedelic art-punk band, Red Crayola, will make eyes grow wide in anticipation as Lora's voice, teetering and unstable, wavers between high-pitched warbles and commanding near shouts. As a critically overlooked historical document, Fanfare In the Garden is essentially essential. (Kill Rock Stars)