1977. The Alessi Brothers, an MOR-pop-jazz American duo who will briefly make the US charts with another song five years later, have a one-off UK hit called "Oh Lori". Charm is of the essence. Summer love. Sweetness, romance, celebration. It's lovely, and in a good sense. Chasing through the meadow, keeping warm through the winter, dancing in your bare feet, riding a bicycle on the handlebar, God is in his heaven and all is right with the world. If there's an English public schoolgirl in the background, she'd never dream of behaving as so many of them did in the sniggering, cripplingly embarrassed British soft porn films of the era. She'll grin, she'll smile, she'll be quintessentially English, she might squeal like the girls in that fusty Surrey museum when Catweazle was let loose among them, but she'll never go further.
It's on your radio next to Hot Chocolate and Boney M, it fits perfectly. Like the Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight", Renaissance's "Northern Lights", and Marshall Hain's "Dancing in the City" it is oddly creepy if you listen to it late at night, and with the right feeling. There is a certain feel of sexuality about it. But for the next 20 years, "Oh Lori" will only define the innocent joy of summer before the fall, and those feelings will come into my mind whenever I hear it, even when Chris Morris plays it on his Radio 1 show in 1994.
1997. The sweet, summery flute is on loop. Chris Morris's voice, at its creepiest and most sickly seductive, intones "No piece of music ever summed up the experience of death better. No human being ever came so close to death while still being alive". Later in the same episode of Blue Jam, the whole song is played. The mood has been created so perfectly that "Oh Lori" can never be its old self again.
Suddenly, it happens. Into my mind comes a schoolgirl. It's like a 70s soft porn movie, only somehow classier. The sniggering of that decade has gone. She takes off her gingham dress, her straw hat is thrown into the river. She offers me the chance. All my teatime teenage wanks (and I was a public schoolgirl fetishist back then, however ashamed I may have been) are about to become reality. In the sun, we do it. It's getting dirty. The innocence of this perfect day is soiled forever. The moment's trangression is over. Everything is fucked.
http://cabinessence.cream.org is the site you need. Download both parts of Series 1, Episode 2, if you will. And the supposed "last decade of innocence" (a mantle, until recently, invariably given to the 50s, which shows how the middlebrow press can move their goalposts as soon as their journalists get old enough to feel it is their responsibility) will be perverted in your mind forever.
Robin Carmody, 13th March 2000
This ain't no summer fling:
Spring, summer, autumn and winter: