I first saw Spy V Spy in 1982 at the Governors Pleasure in The Rocks in Sydney (Australia). It was a sweltering summer night and the back doors of the venue – on the 2nd floor of a 100+-year-old sandstone bond store overlooking Sydney Harbour – were wide open.
Bass player and vocalist Craig Bloxom was prowling the stage, wide-eyed and lanky as all hell while Mike Weiley (guitar and vocals) – a midget by comparison – was doing the wildest things with a delay pedal and an overdrive.
I was hooked instantly – I rushed straight out and bought the Four Fresh Lemons EP and played it about two dozen times, constantly flipping the record over (yes, before the days of CD’s you had to play both sides).
Over the next five years, I watched the band grow from an inner-city Police-influenced ska/pop band to one of the biggest names in Australian rock music (but still never worked out why Craig and Mike used to Gaff-tape their sleeves up).
I even enjoyed many beers one night at the bar in the Southern Cross Hotel, Surry Hills with drummer Cliff Grigg.
The Spies formed in 1981 amidst the squats of inner-city Glebe and always managed to maintain a political awareness that never went too far (unlike some other balding Oz rock stars)
They briefly broke up in early 1983 but thankfully were back together by July of that year – temporarily with a fourth member, Marcus Phelan.
The band released a mini-album, Meet Us Inside, in October 1984 and their debut full-length album, Harry’s Reasons in 1986.
The Spies followed up with A.O. Mod. TV. Ver (for “Adults Only – Modified TV Version” a common legend attached to ‘adult’ oriented TV shows at the time). This album went platinum and reached #11 in 1987.
Their third LP, XenophobiaWhy?, included the singles (Forget About The) Working Week and Clarity Of Mind (with Mike on lead vocals). This album reached #14 and was released in 14 countries.
The Spies (now known as V Spy V Spy to prevent a lawsuit from Mad Magazine) travelled to the UK to record their next album Trash The Planet at Richard Branson’s Manor House studios.
Cliff left the band in 1991 and a ‘best of’ collection, The Spy File, was released in June 1992. Subsequent release Fossil was relatively ordinary.
The band subsequently discovered they were huge in Brazil, and toured there a number of times to a rapturous reception.
Mike Weiley continued to play in a version of the band called The Spys, sporadically touring Brazil and Australia.
Craig Bloxom left the band in 2003 and moved to Mexico to work as a professional chef. He eventually returned to Australia to work as a chef.
Guitarist Mike Weiley passed away on 29 September 2018 after a battle with cancer. He was only 59.
For mine, they were never better than in that long hot summer of 1982 when they rocked the Governors Pleasure with Do What You Say and their own absolutely brilliant version of the Danger Man theme.
Bass & vocals
Guitar & vocals