Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

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Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
Performing live in 2004
Performing live in 2004
Background information
OriginLeeds, England
GenresGothic rock, post-punk
Years active1981–1991, 2003–present
LabelsRed Rhino, Situation Two, Sparkhead
Associated actsChris Reed Unit
  • Chris Reed
  • Dave Wolfenden
  • Ding Archer
  • Martin Henderson
Past members
  • Mark Sweeney
  • Mark Chillington
  • Martin Fagan
  • Paul Southern
  • Steve Smith
  • Mick Brown
  • Chris Oldroyd
  • Gary Weight
  • Martin Scott
  • Leon Phillips
  • Mark Hubbard
  • Marcus Ellis

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, also known very briefly as the Lorries, are an English rock band formed in Leeds in early 1981 by guitarist and songwriter Chris Reed, vocalist Mark Sweeney, bassist Steve Smith and drummer Mick Brown. After breaking up in 1991, the band reformed in 2003 and have released 5 studio albums over the course of their career.


The band was formed by guitarist/songwriter Chris Reed and vocalist Mark Sweeney, along with bassist Steve Smith and drummer Mick Brown (who would later join The Mission). Sweeney left the band in late 1981 and Reed permanently took over as vocalist, with Martin Fagan joining as a second guitarist. The group's sound, featuring a numbing guitar drone, powerfully throbbing bass, pounding drum machine, and Reed's cavernous vocal tones, caused the Lorries (as their fans came to call them) to be quickly lumped into the then-developing gothic rock scene by pop journalists, although the band themselves denied they were ever associated with goth and preferred to cite Wire as an influence,[1] and said they "were primarily inspired by MC5."[2]

In 1982, the Lorries' manager Dave Hall provided independent record label Red Rhino with a cassette of the group's demos.[3] Impressed by the quality of the songs, Red Rhino label head "Tony K" (Tony Kostrzewa)[4] signed the band and immediately released "Beating My Head" unchanged from the demo as the band's debut single.[5] The song made a strong appearance on the influential NME independent record chart. Fagan and Smith soon departed the band, to be replaced by Dave Wolfenden and Paul Southern respectively. Afterwards, bassist Southern was replaced by Leon Phillips. While numerous additional personnel changes would occur in the history of the band, Wolfenden became a mainstay and a frequent songwriting partner of Reed's during the band's most productive period. In 1983 and 1984, the band released several more singles (including "He's Read" and "Monkeys On Juice", which reached No. 9 on the NME indie chart[6]). John Peel was an early supporter, and the band recorded two radio sessions for him in March and November 1983[3][7] (released on CD in 2014 as BBC Sessions 1983 - 1984, part of the band's 3-CD compilation See the Fire).

In 1985, the band's debut album, Talk About the Weather, was released and peaked at No. 3 on the NME independent albums chart.[8] The album, which most fans consider to be the band's best, received generally positive reviews and sold extremely well for a small label offering.[5] "Hollow Eyes", a single taken from the album, attained good sales as well,[9] as did follow-up non-LP singles "Chance" and "Spinning Round",[10] the latter of which is generally felt to be the Lorries's strongest song.

The band released one more album on Red Rhino (Paint Your Wagon, which reached No. 3 on the NME indie chart[11]) in 1986, a single ("Cut Down") and a four track EP ("Crawling Mantra", utilizing the one-time band name change to "The Lorries"), before signing to Situation Two, an offshoot of Beggars Banquet Records. Two albums followed, 1988's Nothing Wrong and 1989's Blow. Neither of the Beggars Banquet albums appeared on any mainstream pop charts. Singles, including "Only Dreaming (Wide Awake)" and "Open Up" (which upon its release was chosen as NME’s 'Single of the Week'[12]), also failed to chart, and the band was subsequently dropped by the label. In 1991, the band released a further single, "Talking Back", and then the Blasting Off album on the tiny Sparkhead label, after which Reed broke up what was left of the band.

In 2003, Reed revived the name Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and released four new songs in 2004, available via internet download only on the band’s website. The band toured frequently in the UK during 2004 and 2005, but although journalist Mick Mercer wrote in 2014 that "new material is on its way",[13] no additional Red Lorry Yellow Lorry music has subsequently been released. In 2005, the band released Thunder in the Black Cave, a live DVD recorded in Belgium during their 2004 European tour.[3] In 2006, Reed released an acoustic-based album, Minimal Animal, under the name 'Chris Reed Unit'.[14]


Studio Albums[edit]

Compilation Albums[edit]

  • Smashed Hits (1987) - UK Indie no. 10[15]
  • The Singles 1982 – 87 (1994)
  • Generation: Best of (1994)
  • The Very Best of (2000)
  • Nothing Wrong / Blow (2001)
  • See the Fire (2014) (3-CD compilation of Talk About the Weather and Paint Your Wagon both augmented by most of the tracks on The Singles 1982 - 87, and newly released BBC Sessions 1983 - 1984, exclusive to this collection)

Singles and EPs[edit]

  • "Beating My Head" (1982)
  • "Take It All" (1983) - UK Indie no. 23[15]
  • "He’s Read" (1983) - UK Indie no. 20[15]
  • This Today EP (1983) - UK Indie no. 18[15]
  • "Monkeys On Juice" (1983) - UK Indie no. 3[15]
  • "Hollow Eyes" (1984) - UK Indie no. 6[15]
  • "Chance" (1985) - UK Indie no. 11[15]
  • "Spinning Round" (1985) - UK Indie no. 9[15]
  • "Walking On Your Hands" (1986) - UK Indie no. 21[15]
  • "Cut Down" (1986) - UK Indie no. 6[15]
  • "Paint Your Wagon" 7" Only (1986)
  • Crawling Mantra EP, recorded and released under the one-time band name change "The Lorries" (1987) - UK Indie no. 3[15]
  • "Nothing Wrong" (1988)
  • "Open Up" (1988) - UK Indie no. 6[15]
  • "Only Dreaming (Wide Awake)" (1988) - UK Indie no. 9[15]
  • "Temptation" (1989) - UK Indie no. 13[15]
  • "Talking Back" (1991)


  • Gothic Rock Volume 2: 80's Into 90's (1995)
  • Gothic Rock Volume 3: Black on Black (1998)[16]


  1. ^ Gittins, Ian. Melody Maker, "The Angry Brigade" article on the band, 25 October 1986, pg. 32.
  2. ^ Wolfenden, David. Interview of Wolfenden conducted by Mick Mercer in 2014 and included in the Liner Notes for See the Fire, 3-CD Compilation, 2014, Cherry Red Records CDTRED643
  3. ^ a b c Ogg, Alex. Talk About the Weather Compact Disc, Anagram Records, 2005, liner notes.
  4. ^ Perrone, Pierre (9 May 2008). "Obituaries: Tony Kostrzewa - Founder of Red Rhino Records". The Independent. London. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  5. ^ a b K, Tony. Red Lorry Yellow Lorry: The Singles 1982 - 87 Compact Disc, Cherry Red Records, 1993, liner notes.
  6. ^ "Independent 45s" Chart, New Musical Express, 4 August 1984, pg. 4
  7. ^ "Keeping it Peel - Artist A-Z: Red Lorry Yellow Lorry". Retrieved 18 February 2008.
  8. ^ "Independent LPs" Chart, New Musical Express, 23 February 1985, pg. 4
  9. ^ "Independent 45s" Chart, New Musical Express, 5 January 1985, pg. 4. The single reached No. 7 on the chart.
  10. ^ "Independent 45s" Chart, New Musical Express, 19 October 1985, pg. 4. "Spinning Round" peaked at no. 11 on the chart.
  11. ^ "Independent LPs" Chart, New Musical Express, 29 March 1986, pg. 44
  12. ^ Solanos, Jane. "Singles", New Musical Express, 21 November 1987, pg. 16.
  13. ^ Mercer, Mick. Liner Notes, See the Fire, 3-CD Compilation, 2014, Cherry Red Records CDTRED643
  14. ^ "Chris Reed Unit webpage". Retrieved 26 November 2007.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Lazell, Barry (1997) Indie Hits 1980–1989, Cherry Red Books, ISBN 0-9517206-9-4, p. 137, 187
  16. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]