Another chunk of Atavistic's long-overdue retrospective of Lydia Lunch's highly influential early work, 8 Eyed Spy collects the entire recorded output of Lunch's second band. A far more overtly "musical" group than Teenage Jesus & the Jerks (which also featured Lunch and Jim Sclavunos, who switched from bass to drums for the new band), 8 Eyed Spy were no less confrontational. A modicum of actual talent and a newfound appreciation for musical forms that predate 1977 inform 8 Eyed Spy's slightly less chaotic music, making this compilation sort of the downtown post-punk equivalent to Trout Mask Replica. Indeed, the album kicks off with a peculiarly effective deconstruction of Captain Beefheart's early single "Diddy Wah Diddy," joining tracks by the Strangeloves and Creedence Clearwater Revival alongside the powerful originals led by Lunch's harsh but urgent vocals and Pat Irwin's honk-blat-phwee saxophone. The live half of the album suffers from the same kind of beyond-lo-fi sound issues as Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, but this is in all other ways a tremendous step up. Unfortunately, 8 Eyed Spy broke up after barely a year when bassist George Scott died, and they were never able to fulfill the promise of these early recordings.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason