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Monday, 17 July 2017
10cc: The Side-trips of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme 1977-1988
You can now buy 'Memories - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Music Of 10cc' in e-book form by clicking here!
and Creme "Consequences"
Scene//Sleeping Earth/Honolulu Lulu/The Flood//5 O'Clock In The
Morning/Dialogue #1/When Things Go Wrong/Dialogue #2/Lost Weekend//Dialogue
#3/Rosie/Dialogue #4/Office Chase/Dialogue #5/Cool Cool Cool/Dialogue #6/Cool
Cool Cool (Reprise)/Dialogue #7/Sailor/Dialogue #8/Mobilization/Dialogue
#9/Please Please Please/Dialogue #10/Blint's Tune
may like it, you may loathe it, but you can't dare to ignore...
Consequences!" (From the Publicity Launch for the album) or "I need
to go home, my niece is on fire!"
'Consequences' is one of rock's greatest ever
follies. Godley and Creme, recent inventors of the 'gizmo' string bender, were
so enamoured of their new toy that they wanted the whole of 10cc's next album
to be full of exotic and genre-defying landscapes of gizmo greatness. For them
it represented everything that 10cc needed after four straight albums of
variations on wackyness and would break the monotony of write-rehearse-record-promote
that was driving the artsy side of 10cc particularly nuts. For both men the
last 10cc album 'How Dare!' had been a stagnation of old ideas and they feared
the band and their approach to music was in danger of growing old - even though
the band were only four albums in and arguably at the peak of their fame and
inventiveness (it's worth remembering that even from the earliest days 10cc
spent an age in the studio making each album - and had in fact recorded about
another three albums' worth together under a variety of different names, so if
this seems a little for the 'seven album itch' of boredom setting in suffered
by so many then actually no - it's bang on the money). In the eyes of Godley
and Creme the new sound of the gismo would bring new creativity to 10cc and
enable them to rise about the simple structure of pop, with the pair having
characteristically grand visions of epic soundscapes, comic monologues and
perhaps, if they were feeling generous, the occasional song. Godley and Creme
were art students concerned with the big picture - for them the concept was all
that mattered and at the time this seemed one hell of a concept!
Stewart and Gouldman, though, music had different priorities. Eric was
first and foremost a guitarist and then a singer before he rather fell into the
idea of writing songs - mainly because nobody else in The Mindbenders could (at
least at first). For him performance was everything and with so much of the
planned record taken up with the gismo, where could his voice and guitar fit
in? For Graham the problem was much simpler - his career had been all about
songs and of all of 10cc he was the one who'd spent the most time honing his
craft and writing songs for other people, more often than not to great success.
Suddenly Godley and Creme's concept made their favourite roles of performing
and writing redundant at a stroke. What's more, while Godley and Creme didn't
care much at all whether people bought their records or understood them, both
Stewart and Gouldman felt that they owed a little more to their fanbase than
that. Until late 1976 10cc had always been a remarkably democratic band with
incredibly few arguments given that all four men did more or less the same
jobs: they all sang, they all played guitar, they all wrote (in various
combinations) and they were all interested in the engineering and production
side of things to a degree. Till now a four-way vote and an agreement to never
ridicule a song but to offer ideas for 'improvements' instead had kept all four
mean creatively interested and emotionally invested in the band. But this new
gulf was the big one and the quartet just couldn't find their way around it.
Eric and Graham just couldn't bring themselves to make an album that featured
so few songs and so much gismo. Kevin and Lol couldn't bring themselves to
spend another four months in the studio with nothing to show for it but hits
and claim to have 'hated' the last two 10cc songs they worked on (last single
'I'm Mandy Fly Me', which Kevin re-wrote a lot to make it 'interesting' - to
his ears at least - and an early version of 'People In Love' later finished off
for 'Deceptive Bends' which is 10cc at their most mawkish and Englebert
Humperdinck). With neither side agreeing with the other, Godley and Creme
demanded to make 'Consequences' as a solo record. Stewart and Gouldman replied
that in order to make it they would have to leave the band. And so they did -
the consequences of 'Consequences' rippling out for much of the rest of this
So what exactly did Kevin and Lol put their
foot down for in order to avoid making a guaranteed million-selling album?
'Consequences' was planned as a single album but grew to a triple album in no
time as the pair found out they were having so much fun avoiding any rules that
had ever been places in the way of record artists. The work reportedly took so
long to make (18 months) that it worked
out at an average of a minute's worth of music for each day spent in the
studio. Sprawling chaotic and impossible to take in during one sitting,
'Consequences' is by turns one of the most irritating and one of the most
creative albums you will ever hear. Sometimes all at the same time. No voices
are heard for the first quarter of an hour of the work and even after that
there's a lot more of the album's unlikely special guests comedian Dudley Moore
and singer Sarah Vaughan on here (the pair tried to get Ella Fitzgerald first
and her agent laughed and put the phone down) than there is Godley and Creme.
And yet this album couldn't have been made by anyone else: eerie, quirky and
deeply intellectual 'Consequences' is a world that works to its own internal
logic and at times sounds so futuristic and unlike anything else ever made that
you sense the world still hasn't quite caught up with yet. Ironically the parts that most date it and let the work
down are the ones featuring the gizmo, the device the whole album was created
around in the first place.
The mother of all concept albums, you're left
stranded for at least the first album's side with no idea of what's going on
but the plot does unravel from there slowly. The album follows Mr Haig who
works as a solicitor and is currently trying to navigate the divorce of two of
his clients, Walter and Lulu Stapleton. The office floors are built on the site
of old apartment blocks and beneath them lives eccentric composer Mr Blint (who
surely is a combination of Godley and Creme) who refused to move and found the
offices built around his house (it may be worth noting that the
Stewart-Gouldman half's next song as 10cc also found them in a judicial setting
for the much more ear-catching 'Good Morning Judge'). Outside the world is at
war and for some reason the villains of the piece have been able to manipulate
the weather. The first sign of impending doom is an odd one - all the goldfish
in the world, trapped for so long in office drudgery, commit suicide. The
characters are trapped inside the offices and quaking in fear, but Mr Blint has
done a lot of reading in numerology and believes that through music he can turn
the weather back to normal and save the world. Well, that's not the totality of
the concept - but I bet I'm getting warm! There are, of course,
consequences...Paul Gambaccini was asked to write the story for the album's
typically mad booklet and seems an oddball choice - you suspect he's far closer
in personality and style to the Eric-Graham half of the band, but he does his
best anyway re-counting the story in the form of a diary. Or at least the parts
that don't involve him laughing at the album's absurdities and his own
admission that he hasn't got a clue what's going on for long sections of the
work ('I'm going to end up with a 3000 word admission to Private Eye Magazine's
psued's corner' he moans at one point, referring to the column kept for pretentious
meaningless waffle published in print and sent in by the public).
However, for all it's ginormous plot holes,
convenient storyline resolutions and unlikely characters, there is a sort of
inner structure to 'Consequences' that makes it always sound as if someone knew
what they were doing, even if they didn't always explain to the people making
the album. Though the monologues interrupting the songs are a pain when heard
in one go, many of Dudley Moore's skits are well written and show an impressive
lightness of touch and humour without which 'Consequences' would just be
completely up itself. The fact that the duo play a falsetto 'ahh!' every time
somebody mentions the word 'hole' (which happens more often than not in this
work) for no apparent reason is one of the album's funnier jokes. Better yet
the handful of actual bona fide 'songs' on this album reveal an emotion and
pathos rare for Godley and Creme's more cerebral work and this album is always
at its best when showing us what the characters are feeling instead of simply
explaining it (such as the album highlight, the sleepy ballad '5 O'Clock In The
Morning' or the mournful tale of regret 'Lost Weekend', both of which stack
alongside the very best of Godley-Creme compositions, including their 10cc work).
The sound effect-driven instrumentals are impressive too in a
kind of a way.
This isn't an album built for easy listening -
but then that was the whole point of the exercise. There's clearly not enough
material here to fill out one 'proper' album never mind three and you'll lose
patience with this set so many times few fans make it all the way to the end
more than once. You may well feel short-changed if you pay/paid the high triple
album prices for this album (then and especially now - 'Consequences' is very
rare in its complete form) when so much of it consists of Godley and Creme
messing about and doing stuff purely because they can rather than because
anybody wants them to. 'Consequences' had huge ramifications for both mens'
careers they still haven't quite shaken off now despite the five far more
user-friendly albums that follow (especially the middle two). It's clearly a
folly that no sensible man (or at least a business minded musician) would ever
have gone near and it suffers badly from its dammit-all arrogance in the same
way that 'Deceptive Bends', released under the 10cc name around the same time,
suffers from thinking too much from the bank balance. At the same time though,
follies are beautiful to behold and admire, even if you happen to be shaking
your head in disbelief at the same time at all the extravagance and the waste
that went into something that probably only the people who built it truly
understand. 'Consequences' is a truly bonkers album, for several long minutes
at a stretch for all the 'wrong' reasons, but it's an often beautiful album
too. It's the album Godley and Creme had always wanted to make and were always
going to make, though much of their fanbase may have wished they hadn't been
quite so set on so many of their visions (especially when, without knowing,
this poor LP set ended up being released at the height of punk when things got
shorter and people stopped making albums like this - 'Consequences' was always
going to be crucified in the music press, but reviews were savage. You could
argue that punk was the 'real' threat which the meteorological disasters were
standing in for, especially as Peter Cook reputedly turned down a role on The
Sex Pistols film 'The Great Rock 'n' Roll swindle' to work on this project, but
even for 'Consequences' that seems a metaphor too far and Kev and Lol admit to
not noticing punk at all when they were making this epic). A shorter single-LP
set 'Music From Consequences' was released a year later, basically consisting
of the songs and with one or two sound effect-instrumentals at the end, which
is a lot more common to track down and a lot more user-friendly - yet somehow
also a lot less fun.
'Seascape' is an opener that hints
at much of what's to come - lots of synths, a bit of gismo and not much
happening though the song does at least convey a sense of 'life's a beach'
'Wind' is an early sign of
threat which refers to the meteorological disturbances that crop up later in
the album. It's another instrumental but with a lot more happening this time -
most of it sounding like the soundtrack of some horror film.
'Fireworks' is the sound of two men
with too much time on their hands trying to re-create the sound of rockets
taking off in stereo. Impressive as it is by 1977 standards, you can't help but
think that the old 10cc would have made this the brief overdub on a clever song
rather than a minute's worth of self-indulgence.
'Stampede' puts the gismo and our
first sound of voices through the production wringer, so that it comes out
sounding like R2D2 set on fire with worn-out batteries. There is, would you
believe, six whole minutes of this. I sat through them once. Never again.
For 'Burial Scene' Godley threw sand from the top of the control room
stairs into Lol's waiting coffin where a microphone was placed. The result
sounds much like you'd imagine someone shovelling sand on top of a microphone
would sound like, but I'm sure it seemed a good idea at the time.
Earth' is one of the better
instrumentals on the album, with a ,metronomic gismo motif overdubbed with all
manner of percussion and sound effects. The result is quite hypnotic, even
spread across seven minutes, which is presumably why Godley snores loudly
through most of it...
At last, the songs. Sort of. 'Honolulu Lulu' introduces us
to the lawyer's wife and is apparently sung from 'his' perspective, but the
vocal is given over to multiple Sarah Vaughans who sing screechily amongst a
choir of Godley 'oh's. The song is more of a parody of the roaring twenties
than anything actually interesting though.
A full ten minutes of 'The Flood' is at least nine too many, though
there are several moments that catch the ear with an inventive string part
(later resurrected for a central part on the 'History' remix album) over what
sounds like a dripping tap. Never mind what's going on in the lawyer's office,
there's a storm brewing! In Godley and Creme's heads, this long song was going
to be a 10cc B-side before the idea got nixed and it wound up being the
starting point for this album instead.
And yet nobody's noticed. Instead '5 O'Clock In The Morning' is
a gorgeous song about people drift-sleeping their way through their morning
routines the same as they do every day with no idea that the world's about to
end. Lol takes the lead on this gorgeous song that's decked out in lots of 'I'm
Not In Love' style choirs and a sleepy voice that's still so far in dreams
thatit seems the toothpaste has turned into a snake ('and it's hissing in your
ear, get up, get out of here!') By the end of the song the narrator has a
feeling the day that's just opened for business is going to be unusual, but he can't
quite put his finger on it as he sleepwalks his way to work. Truly beautiful
and one of the loveliest and most undeservedly under-rated songs in the Godley
and Creme back catalogue. The duo even appeared on Top Of The Pops performing
it, but characteristically 'Consequences' most commercial moment was never
released as a single.
In arrives the 'Dialogue' with Peter Cook playing both the hapless
lawyer and an interviewing journalist while lots of sonic 'aaahs' go off
randomly in the background. It's a clever if rather heavy-handed way of telling
us the plot - as much as it is - and rather interrupts the flow.
is another of the better songs, with Lol's hapless narrator telling us about
the many things going wrong in his life which all seem to be happening to him
at once. Lol has never sounded more like Woody Allen on this track, but there's
a bit too much going on in the backing track which is chockablock of what
sounds like a carnival and keeps getting in the way of the strong main song.
More 'Dialogue' next - nearly seven minutes' worth - continues the plot
with Mr Blint putting in his first appearance, confusingly played by Cook again
alongside the lawyer.
Thankfully in rushes 'Lost Weekend', a gorgeous track with one of
Godley's greatest ever vocals sharing the spotlight with Sarah Vaughan in
rather better voice this time around. The song has a slow seductive jazzy feel
and features some excellent lyrics of regret and loss, played out as if by two
lovers parting at a bar after a night that never quite happened. The lovers
wish each other well - and wonder why their lives never quite connected.
Another much under-rated gem.
We reach the halfway point with more 'Dialogue' in which multiple
Peter Cooks discuss making money out of odds on the Titanic and keeping out of
trouble. I mean, the destruction that's about to reduce most of the world to
cinders won't dare to come near here will it?!
'Rosie' is one of the lesser
actual songs, this time a WW2 parody with 'wrens like strutting hens' and a
bar-room saloon piano. Godley reverts to his native Prestwich tones for this
A minute's worth of 'Dialogue' tells us that The Wall Street Shuffle
has hit and the trading has gone down by four years' worth of money. That's the
least of the worries of the lawyer and Lulu though.
Chase' is a return to the sound
effects, with a Dr Who style synth keyboard noise offset by some sleepy piano
as the wind even hits Mr Blint's house.
Four minutes' worth of 'Dialogue' has the lawyer and musician swapping
one-liners to no great effect.
Cool' reveals definitively that
Queen stole most of their ideas from 10cc with a pure 'Bohemian Rhapsody'
opening leading into a cod-operatic theatrical piece full of lyrics of doom and
threat about the world ending that never quite settles down into a proper song.
Then there's an immediate 'Reprise' that's even longer
than the original slightly irritating and overlong song, linked with more
dialogue including an escaping goldfish that suggests that Godley and Creme had
been listening to a bit too much Douglas Adams.
Next there's more 'Dialogue' come sound effects, with Peter Cook
getting increasingly drunk.
'Sailor' is another of the better
songs, a sleepy ballad that recalls 'Seascape' but which features some proper
lyrics this time delivered by a particularly lovely Godley vocal. Like most of
the characters who inhabit this world, the sailor only has eyes for his work,
not the people in his life. The middle rush of full harmonies is truly sublime.
A full five minutes of 'Dialogue' with Peter Cook at his most Vincent
Pricey is heavy going and what little plot there is doesn't exactly move on
'Mobilization' features an eerie yet
jovial science fiction backing behind some inaudible dialogue and suggest the
Earth's defences are moving into range.
Another two minutes of 'Dialogue' finds the characters coming to terms
with the 'the end of the world as we know it' and wondering what to do (Lulu's
response: 'Oh no, my hair is in such a mess!')
is the unlikely scenario of Peter Cook doing a James Brown impersonation as he
simply asks the title over and over as the lawyer and Lulu beg for someone to
save them in front of two minutes of gizmo fun.
The final pieces of 'Dialogue' offers us Mr Blint's solution -
whatever it is, something musical it seems - across nearly six whole minutes.
We end with a full fourteen minutes of 'Blint's Tune', ominously
subtitled 'Movements 1-17' which is a piano reprise of many of the better
melodies from the album. However good Lol's playing is, however, there's not
much sense of urgency here and after spending nearly two hours in the company
of these characters it's rather a shame to report that the world is saved
simply by some simple piano chords.
'Consequences', then, defies description
despite the fact that we've tried to do just that for the last few pages. It's
a project hat's dogged Godley and Creme since the day they first proposed it
and they've had mixed feelings about their baby and it's difficult birth ever
since. For Kevin, it is 'a weird mix of sheer brilliance and utter shit. I
could be wrong, it may all be brilliant or all shit or even al brilliant shit.
Either way it fried our brains for a while and is impossible to be objective
about'. For Lol it was an album meant to be a 'movie for the blind' and it is -
full of dialogue, sound effects, gismos, synthesisers but above all ideas,
'Consequences' is a project that sucks you in or blows you out, depending on
just how much faith you place into Godley and Creme in their hardest-going
moments. Poor as much of it may be, convoluted and over-long, there's
nevertheless an impressive streak of courageousness and English eccentricity
that makes even the worst moments worth sitting through, while the best moments
are right up there with the greatest in this book, overlooked for far too long.
and Creme "L"
The Sporting Life/Sandwiches Of You/Art
School Canteen/Group Life//Punch Bag/Foreign Accents/Hit Factory-Business Is
you bored? Are you jaded? Has your enthusiasm faded?"
discovered that 'Consequences' was perhaps a little (a lot?) over the heads of
most record-buying fans, Godley and Creme toned things down for their second
album which followed 'Bloody Tourists' into the shops. 'L' is, for starters,
rather defensively titled after the idea that Godley and Creme are going to
have to re-learn how to make their music palatable for people without Stewart
and Gouldman there to help them out and comes with a cover that doubles as the
British sign for a 'learner driver' in the Highway Code. Of course, this is
only a lightweight 'beginner's' album in the Godley-Creme sense of the word. To
everyone else this is still an obtuse, difficult, often incomprehensible and at
times deeply weird album that never sits still for an instant, like a
hyperactive toddler whose eaten too many fruit gums. The difference between
'Consequences' and 'L' is that, across three LPs, that album could afford to be
languid and covered life, the universe and everything in two hours, some of it
by sound effects when words weren't enough. 'L' tries a similar idea in a third
of the time and often sounds like an album shot in split-screen that's trying
to do three or four things at once. All of which means that 'L' is, on the
negative side, very very tiring and a little trying when ideas pass by so fast
you can't quite hang on to them. However, on the positive side, if you can keep
up the pace then 'L' is a complete one-off that's even more original than
other difference between the first two albums is that 'Consequences' was
intended as a spin-off album and the split from 10cc only came late in the day
when it was a choice between the one or the other and was intended to show off
everything Godley and Creme couldn't do with the band. 'L' is very much more of
a hybrid, with less humour and sound effects and more music, although it's
certainly nothing like anything the pair wrote for 10cc, even at their maddest.
Also, while 'Consequences' lives very much in its own little world, 'L' is very
much a part of 'our' world and is the start of a career-long effort to show up
how ridiculous it often is. However, unlike most of the albums to come, 'L' is
an oddly sad and bitter listening experience full of school bullies, music
business cynicism and sports-day cheating. Godley and Creme are never the most
happy-go-lucky of composing teams, but here more than anywhere else seem to be
working through their neuroses: how dare the world tell them they can't do
something and that they have to fit a pigeon-hole. That stuffs for pigeons;
Godley and Creme are (to borrow a later album title) more birds of prey.
half-theme across the album is the idea of 'learning a trade' - and how
unsuited most people are to it when they get it. 'Why are we waiting?' smirk a
crowd of Cremes when Godley the athlete fails to make the grade in 'This
Sporting Life' which makes a mockery of why anyone would pay to see people run
around a field for a living. More than that, any living seems preposterous,
with a middle set in an office where the only 'happy' event is an hour of fire
drill outside the building and even The Samaritans aren't in when the desperate
narrator rings for a chat. After laughing at life, 'Sandwiches Of You' laughs
at love with the couple who aren't really a couple making do with a
finger-buffet of each other before the meal they've been waiting for arrives.
'Art School Canteen' is the tale of a bullied, ignored but talented student
nobody ever notices and who was never given the encouragement to become an
artist even though that was the whole point of the flipping course! 'Group
Life' mocks 10cc's overdubbing, repetitive life and ends with where we started
with a sad inversion of the line 'Oh Donna, you make me breakup!' 'Punchbag'
has a similar misfit beaten up every day in the fourth form for daring to stand
out and the worst of it nobody understands or listens, so the narrator feels
incredibly isolated and alone. After an instrumental, for good measure, we end
on 'Hit Factory' in which every line simply repeats the same thing over and
over. There's no joy at all in 'L', just a world where nobody cares and you can
never be different because nobody else will listen to you if you are. 'L' is an
album about being even at this stage in life (Godley was 33, Creme 31) beginners
at life in world that the pair truly don't understand at all. Why does it work
the way it does? Why are people so unhappy doing something they're told to do?
Why does no one think the same way 'we' do? Why don't people make more fuss and
make more of themselves? In short, 'L' is an album that tries hard to make you
think it needs medication to slow it down, when all it really needs is a big
you like Godley and Creme then you need to own this record, which falls a long
way short of being their best or their most listenable but is nevertheless
perhaps the most 'them' (even more than 'Consequences' in many ways). If you
hate Godley and Creme, however, then you'll never ever learn from 'L' what the
pair were all about because there's virtually no nod of the head here to
conventional musical routes or anything designed to meet casual listeners
somewhere around the middle of the road. Everything here is meant to be crazy,
unique and bonkers - because Godley and Creme are crazy, unique and bonkers and
so is the world, even though they seem to be the only people re-acting to it in
the 'right' way anymore. To make the splash such an original piece of art
deserved (whether good or bad, this certainly isn't populist and it's designed
to make you think more than anything else, so it must be art), 'L' needed to be
just that bit quieter, to contain more than just seven songs and to have two
more strong songs included rather than the two simple pieces at the end which
is just a cop-out way of padding out ten minutes. None of the songs on this
album have ever turned on up on the various Godley-Creme sets out there for
good reason: taken individually, nothing from this album deserves to represent
the best of Godley and Creme. Taken as a whole, though, 'L' is an impressive
and much misunderstood, deliberately flawed masterpiece that cleverly describes
a world that's got its priorities wrong and our greatest talents end up unhappy
working ordinary office jobs while the nitwits of the world make fame and
fortune recycling disposable pop. For the concept alone, it's one 'L' of a
record and there's never been anything like it before or since.
seven and a half minute 'This
Sporting Life' is the album's tour de force, an epic prog rock piece
that makes even Hotlegs' 'Suite:FA' look vaguely normal. A choir of Godleys act
as our psychiatrist - are we 'one of those people' (the term is used with
disdain) who do nothing but stare at a computer screen all day and let life
pass them by, ignoring our full potential? A sea of gizmo guitars enter into
the picture to rather prove the point (a sound like nothing else on earth),
before Godley rushes out the office to go home desperate to fulfil his
responsibilities at speed. Outside a 'freak show' of similar workers rush home
so Godley reaches for the phone but the Samaritans who 'know what he's going
through' (because everyone is going through the same) aren't in to take the
call. A firedrill ends with people urging him to 'jump', but suddenly Godley
has turned into Creme and is now an athlete trying to break out the rat-race by
running the same path every day. This epic song makes for interesting
comparison with Eric Stewart's bookending tracks on 10cc's 'Windows In The
Jungle' five years later when his character too is desperate to leave the
mundane in the world behind and cut through to the bits that matter (love,
basically). By comparison 'This Sporting Life' is way too mad and unmusical to
reach the same sporting league, but it's still a fascinating song with more
twists and turns than a snake up a drainpipe.
'Sandwiches Of You'
is the closest to a 'normal' song on the album, despite a choir of scary
falsetto voices, an angry staccato background and a sea of gizmo guitars that
sound like scissors cutting through rock. Perhaps that's because it's a spoof
love song, in which Lol wants to 'discuss the ramifications of a lasting and
complex relationship like mature and responsible people do', but because this
is a song about love we get it only in bite-size 'sandwich' terms. There's possibly
some double entendres about oral sex going on in there too, who knows.
'Art School Canteen'
is my favourite song on the album, a lovely jazz-infused ballad about the
narrator 'walking round with his talent hanging out' yet none of the people
posing at artists even notices him. Re-designing his beard, listening to Frank
Zappa and having sex is what he's told to do but that doesn't feel 'right' so
in the end the narrator's talents get wasted and he stops bothering to turn up
to the very classes that could save him from a world of drudgery, if only they
were taught properly. Though most of this album is angry, this track is just
melancholic and Godley's purr is beautiful throughout playing the part of a
character he clearly identified with.
'Group Life' is a series of
in-jokes that must have confused the hell out of everyone at the time, but
luckily for you and me they're a series of in-jokes about 10cc so are worth
going into here. Sounding a little like 'Art For Art's Sake', but more
menacing, Godley complains about his new-found isolation since leaving the band
without even a pencil or a pen-pal. The creative juices flowed in the beginning
alright, but suddenly it's stopped being productive as a conveyor belt of
'recording-Grundig (The make of tape machine used at Strawberry Studios)-Dolby
(The sound compression system in use in 1978)-Press-Shock-Horror' ends up
sucking all the creative juice out of the band. A quick mournful reprise of
debut hit 'Donna' (a bitter 'Neanderthal Man' might have been even more apt) is
followed by the cry 'Are we crazy? Are we mad? We are!' They are too - this is
another of those songs that has everything thrown at it so that your ear keeps
hearing new lines all the time. Impossible to listen to, but that's kind of
point - those years were impossible to live through and yet still had to be
innately musical, so no wonder Godley and Creme are rebelling.
'Punchbag' has Godley trying
to fight off a whole bunch of school bullies, detailing all the bad experiences
he had at school for daring to be different - and Jewish (this is probably the
only song in this whole book that mentions 10cc's near-collective Jewish
background). 'What is it about me that draws attention?' Godley sighs as the
incidents keep piling up, but he already knows - it's a combination of being
weedy and bright, while he also wishes he had 'normal ears and clearer skin'.
No dimwitted bully could ever have come up with a song as deep and complex as
this song though, which again is kind of the point. Twenty years later and
Godley and Creme have got their own back. Well, sort of. I doubt many school
bullies were cerebral enough to buy a copy of 'L' and realise the error of
their ways somehow, but it's a nice image all the same.
the album goes badly downhill at the end, with 'Foreign Accents' an excuse for some atonal jazz fun
with the gizmo and a synth-saxophone. Everything in this song is 'talking' to
something else, but no one is listening because they're all busy making their
own sounds in a totally different key. Nice idea in theory, but listening to
five minutes of this stuff will make you question both your sanity and the
amount you spent on this record.
again, 'Hit Factory'
makes you question your sanity for spending any amount on any record. Built to
sound like a steam-powered factory we only get the lines 'we're all working in
a hit...factory' over and over, in different keys, while an angular and ugly
synth riff plays over the top until the song segues into 'Business Is Business' which
is a Frank Zappa version of a Gilbert and Sullivan patter song. That's it. For
seven minutes. The point was made after two.
at least 'L' shows that Godley and Creme weren't going to soften their approach
now that they had a career of their own to make. Which is good news. Err, I
think. Thankfully Godley and Creme will find a way of toning it down just a
smidgeon in time of their third and arguably best LP the following year.
and Creme "Freeze Frame"
An Englishman In New York/Random
Brainwave/I Pity Inanimate Objects/Freeze Frame//Clues/Brazilia (Wish You Were
Here)/Mugshots/Get Well Soon
CD Bonus Tracks: Silent Running/Wide
Santas in perpetual underwater snowstorms"
the time their third album came out Godley and Creme had had to watch their old
pals in 10cc score their only number one hit without them in the band
('Dreadlock Holiday'). By contrast 'Consequences' and 'L' has been cult hits at
best, selling to the loyal few rather than the masses. For all their desires to
reinvent how people experienced music and do what no one else was doing, there
must have been a part of Godley and Creme that felt a little jealous in this
period. Certainly 'Freeze Frame' demonstrates a thawing of sorts and is a lot
closer to what the pair had been doing with 10cc - actual songs with real
lyrics and stories to tell. As time goes by the duo will get the bug for this
sort of thing and actually start making pop songs again and end up sounding
even more like 10cc than 10cc and fall a little too far down the other side.
'Freeze Frame' though is the aptly named moment in time when the pair have
found a happy medium and are able to do both - present music that makes you
think but which, compared to 'Consequences' and 'L' still resembles music.
Though many fans prefer the big seller 'Ismism' to come, for me this is the
ultimate Godley-Creme listening experience, an idiosyncratic record that couldn't have been made by
anybody else that doesn't make that feel like a bad thing. There's even a cover
by old 10cc practitioners Hipgnosis and
while the man and woman sitting back to back in a sauna can't compete with the likes of
'Sheet Music' or 'How Dare You!' it is, like the music, closer to an
actual recognisable 10cc cover without being stupidly simple (like the block
letters of 'Ismism').
Frame' is the first of the pair's albums to be made up of songs rather than
suites or concepts, but even so there's kind of two themes running across this
record across the two different sides which kind of fit anyway in a Godley and
Creme kind of a way. I'm not sure any side that begins with 'An Englishman In
New York' can be considered 'normal' but the first is the most musical
comparatively speaking. The theme though is that life is never quite what we
think it is, following on from the 'distractions' theme of 'L', but this time
the concept is explored through songs about things we can't see or hear but
which are there working out of sight. That track - Godley and Creme's first hit
single - is a dark journey through the world's underbelly as the narrator
drowns in a sea of crass commercialism and people talking a 'little bit left of
centre'. The locals are 'blind' to just how weird the world they live in is,
while to the English narrator it seems absurd and surreal and a little creepy.
It's followed by a 'Random Brainwave' as a man's subconscious tries to make
itself heard in a world where it's being ignored and 'I Pity Inanimate Objects'
which is performed by a singing toaster upset that he can't move like humans do
(!) We never hear either our subconscious thoughts or our own belongings talk
to us in our day-to-day lives but that doesn't mean that they aren't there, the
idea being that both 'shape' our lives far more than we ever let on.
this point on the album switches gears slightly into trying a series of songs
that wonder about the curve of life and whether you can truly tell a person's
life from a single picture that records them at one particular moment in time.
The title track has Godley aging in different stages as he recalls all the
thongs on his brain at the time when photographs were taken but which of course
can't be shown because we only have the images. The chorus depicting his
paranoias and fears also relate to the theme of the first side. 'Clues'
searches for things hidden out of sight that people usually miss as signs of
what they were really thinking at a particular moment in time. 'Brazilia' has
the theme of 'wish you were here' but the narrator's not really at home as
three separate people try and talk to themselves but the others aren't listening,
capturing ideas at different points in time. 'Mugshots' is the album's comedy
song, a tale of a person whose taken the wrong past in life but whose badness
is only a very small part of them, captured forever on their criminal
photograph. Finally, 'Get Well Soon' returns to the album's first side of
things unseen, with a man dying in a hospital bed to the sound of Radio
Luxemborg only to find i the morning that the pair have switched round and that
his radio - once so full of life - has had its batteries used and he feels
better. What better unseen force working through life can there be than music? It's
all about unseen subliminal messages in other words, with humans at the prey of
their own neuroses, sub-conscious thoughts and even their household objects.
having a higher quota of actual 'songs' for once and a sorta concept, the most
impressive thing about 'Freeze Frame' is probably the groundbreaking use of
technology. This album sounds far more ahead of its time than the release date
of 1978 should allow and the duo plus Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music invent far
more new ideas of making music than either 'Consequences' or 'L'. Always
interested in new equipment, the duo put an early bid in for a new piece of
technology called a 'harmoniser'. The device was meant to help singers
'auto-tune' their notes to get their pitch better and as such might well be the
single worst thing to have happened to popular music since The Spice Girls (who
no doubt used it too). However the duo use it, a quarter of a century before
Cher had the same idea on 'Believe', to wobble notes out of their natural
alignment and to sound other-worldly. 'Inanimate Objects' was recorded in this
way, with Godley singing every word at the same pitch originally and Creme
manipulating them in the studio and it still sounds way ahead of its time.
Ditto 'Brazilia', a collage where the duo plus Phil all improvised their own
six minute track and the results were then superimposed on top of each other,
with a bit of production manipulation to keep the clashing notes apart and more
in tune. Though it lacks the musicality of the best songs on this album, it's
an inventive idea and almost works - it's a surprise other bands haven't copied
it. All the other tracks feature a whole cornucopia of weird ideas and sounds
too, from the 'robot chorus' telling us to 'have a nice day' on 'An Englishman
In New York' to the 'drowning choir' of 'Get Well Soon' via the vocoders of
'Random Brainwave' this album is always trying to do something no one has ever
quite done in this way before. Unlike the first two albums, though, this time
the experiments are being driven on by the songs and ideas and that's
absolutely how it should be. The one Godley-Creme album that, in truth, is up
to the 10cc banner, 'Freeze Frame' is a gloriously brave yet enjoyable listen that
deserves to rank up there somewhere near the highest ranks, frozen in time as
the pair's greatest 'Goldilocks' album: not too weird, not too normal. but just
about right. Oddly, though, this more commercial album ended up selling less
copies than 'L' leading the pair to get even more hit-orientated with the next
one, to their artistic cost...
up your daughters, Avon crawling! 'An Englishman In New York' finds Godley so out of step with the
bright and madly happy world around him that he even finds himself slowly
disassociating with himself as his two vocals walk further out of step with
each other. Finding himself trapped between a bunch of fake smiles wishing him
a 'nice day' and a 'no way street', the narrator has a breakdown as he lists
everything around him that seems false and 'wrong'. These vary from the silly ('surgical
stockings marked his and hers' and a menu for a fake olde English restaurant
whose menu reads 'Ode to a burger - by Keats at his worst!') to the sinister
('Disturbing facts about Nazi splinter groups as seen on the news' and 'the
ultimate kitsch of a crucifix cross' which Christians clamour to own in a very
un-Christian like way). The hint is that they both belong to the same world and
it's only a small step from the fakeness of a commercial culture to one that
has no heart or empathy. No wonder Godley turns both schizophrenic and homesick
during the course of the song. The album version runs around 90 seconds longer
than the single version usually used on compilations by the way and features
the verse with most of the controversial stuff taken out for radio airplay
('I'm in Snow White and the Seven Basket cases, I'm Happy and Dopey and Dirty
in places!') though I'm impressed they left the 'crucifix' verse intact. The
single reached as high as number four in the Belgian chart (higher than 'Rubber
Bullets' and 'I'm Not In Love'!), which is just weird but the excellent video
(Godley and Creme at their most inventive, with a group of scary mannequins
stalking Godley throughout) probably helped there. One of the better weirder
Godley-Creme songs, this track manages to be very clever without losing the
power of their other cerebral tracks thanks mainly to the catchy but
indecipherable chorus ('Street alligaotes, big angolophile, will navigate us
through a change of style!') Probably also Donald Trump's favourite song,
probably for all the wrong reasons.
'Random Brainwave' shows us that our inner worlds are as weird as the outer ones
and features multiple electronically enhanced Lols trying to interact with
Godley's wah-ohing outer self who just isn't listening. This track features the
best ever use of the gismo as part of a very alien landscape that is the
creepiest sci-fi movie soundtrack that never was. Ultimately it's a sad song,
because the narrator knows he won't be
heard and instead has to watch what mad impulse his 'owner' makes instead,
ending the song by 'leaving it to the hands of fate'.
choir of strummed acoustic guitars ushers in 'I Pity Inanimate Objects', easily the album
highlight. Usually Godley-Creme songs are either weird or poppy but this one is
both, a catchy song about an object that has the awareness to think but not the
means to move. What could have been a comedy, with Godley's vocals put through
the harmoniser to sound like 'The Brave Little Toaster' on acid, actually comes
out a really haunting song thanks to Lol's show-stopping guitar part which
howls with such pain and feedback that it sounds only too real. The lyrics are
more than novelty too, philosophising whether objects are disappointed by the
decisions their masters and mistresses make to take them and use them ('And how
does the room feel about it?') The song finds empathy for the ultimate beings
without power (if objects can think anyway), while looking at death and loss as
the toaster worries about his fate but decides that ultimately he's better than
similarly fragile humans: 'The fewer the moving parts the less there is to go
wrong, I worry about these things!' A superb inventive song that shows you that
physics really isn't fair and which means you'll never look at your toaster in
quite the same way ever again...
'Freeze Frame' itself starts off as a similarly philosophical song and returns
to the put-upon bullied narrators of 'L'. Godley is a child again, smothered in
baby lotion and with the hum of his Scalectrix still in the air from playtime,
but he's terrified by the dark and isn't allowed a nightlight and experiences
such horror it stays with him forever. The phobia follows him across his life,
going 'up' and 'down' in a number of brilliantly eccentric and often grisly
metaphors ('Going up like the corners of Dali's moustache, going down like Man
United in the Munich air crash!' and late - as an injoke - 'going down like
'Neanderthal Man' in the chart', just as it seemed like being a certain #1!)
The middle of the song is highly inventive, the song pausing on the word
'freeze' like a video that's got stuck, while we get a middle eight from Godley
where he gets shot by his mother at night ('because truth is stranger than
fiction'), the nightmare that perhaps lies underneath this song's fear of the
dark. The adult Godley then ends the song as a broken man whose gone to the
other extremes and now so interested in the dark that he 'designs rooms where
the light can never get in'. I'd buy a nightlight for your children now if I
were you...Another stunning and under-rated track with a production showcase
made up of synths (used properly for once as an alien monster rather than as
colour), wild drums, guttural guitar and even a nice bit of humming.
side two isn't quite in the same league, with 'Clues' a percussion heavy soundscape made up lots of
surreal images that's clearly constructed band-jam 'Neanderthal Man' style but
never quite gets going. Lol has found an 'underwater' setting for his gismo,
but it sounds too brash for this song of un-associated words that all add up to
the 'clues' that a relationship is going wrong. The narrator, though, is in denial,
with Lol and a vocoder offering up a creepy 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak
no evil' chorus line.
is either six minutes of torture or the greatest art-school music project ever
depending how you look at it. In context with the rest of the album it's a
chance to explore the subliminal thoughts of Godley, Creme and Phil Manzanera
all at once, with all three making up their own tracks with no idea what the
other is up to on theirs - just an idea of how long they need to make the track
last. In practice it's six minutes of Godley singing 'white heat grey stone',
Creme singing 'wish you were here' and 'Brazilia' and Phil getting spooky on
the guitars. The end result goes together better than it should (mainly because
the three tracks have been altered to better fit musically) and gets quite
hypnotic by the end. It certainly beats the similarly experimental passages on
'Consequences' and 'L' but by this album's standards it's heavy going.
is the closest thing to a 'normal' track on the album, a bouncy three minute
comedy that has Lol on the road to ruin: a spoilt child, he runs away with a
minor criminal whose name of 'Hubcap jenny' should have been a clue to her way
of life and before too long 'there's a mug in the shot!' However Lol's
character isn't really the person depicted in his mugshot: the twist at the end
is either that he's made Hubcap Jenny off (or she hasn't been caught) or that
this is one of the Kray twins. The groaning Godley-sounding judges intoning
'Mugshots' have a lot more life about them than 10cc's contemporary singe 'Good
Morning Judge' which Godley and Creme may well be parodying here. Not the most
memorable track on the album and more than a little confusing (especially the
end, which fades almost all the way and then returns with a loud guitar burst
for no particular reason), but like most of the album it's brilliantly
album then ends with the slow-burn of 'Get Well Soon' in which Godley gets ready to die with his
faithful radio tuned to Radio Luxemburg at his feet. A guesting Paul McCartney
joins in on the gorgeous 'Ram' style backing vocals (though you can't actually
tell it's him). Godley wallows 'like a zombie' in the sad reggae tunes he
phones in as requests while putting down lucozade (he's right, it's fowl,
guaranteed to make you ill) and letting chocolate buttons 'limbo under my
tongue'. After a few songs on 'fabulous
208' Godley's narrator begins to wonder if he's the only one alive and the only
companion left in the whole world is his radio. Throughout the night the radio
ticks away, signalled by what sounds like someone beating out a rat-a-tat on a
radio and in his feverish state Godley believes it's the only thing keeping him
alive. By the end of the night his batteries are dead but he is alive, saved by
the power of the music. There's a lesson for us all in there somewhere...
ends one of the most brilliantly inventive albums in the 10cc canon, as quirky
as 'Sheet Music', as musical as 'The Original Soundtrack', as clever and
production-fuelled as 'How Dare You!' and as emotional as 'Windows In The
Jungle'. 'Freeze Frame' is more inventive than the duo albums that came before
it but so much more disciplined and easy to listen to. What a shame that the
poor sales for this fascinating album led Godley and Creme to re-discover the
pop song for the three albums that came after this. 'Freeze Frame' proves, once
and for all, that music doesn't need to be popular to be good and remains
Godley and Creme's crowning moment of indefatigable genius, more than worthy of
re-discovery from 10cc fans usually put off by all their quirky cleverness. For
once nothing here is unlistenable and most of the album comes close to
and Creme "Music From Consequences"
5 O'Clock In The Morning/When Things Go
Wrong/Lost Weekend/Cool Cool Cool/Sailor/Rosie//Sleeping Earth/Honolulu
Lulu/The Flood/Burial Scene
one too many of the pages of your paper over, pulling on the sails of your
the inevitable non-sales of the triple-Lp by an untested partnership that was
being slated by the critics, Polydor urged the duo to have a second think and
released a 'reduced' version of the colossus album that sold rather better. On
the plus side the album contains the four songs from the album you really need
to own: '5 O'Clock In The Morning' is beautiful and fragile, 'When Things Go
Wrong' is noisy and fragile, 'Lost Weekend' is beautiful, fragile and haunting
and 'Sailor' is just haunting. On the down side you get absolutely no sense of
what 'Consequences' is really about (if indeed it's about anything): there's
not even a line of dialogue, few of the instrumentals and the songs are well
out of order. In truth, past the four songs, you won't like the rest of the
album much, even on diluted form ('The Flood' for instance is cut right down to
size) but for those who won't or can't buy the full set think of this as an
excellent EP with lots of curious bonus tracks and you won't go wrong. Much
improved as a listening experience, but so badly diluted as a concept and its
sprawling, everything-goes tone was after all the whole point of the original
and Creme "Ismism"
(Mercury/Warner Brothers, October 1981)
Snack Attack/Under Your Thumb/Joey's
Camel/The Problem-Ready For Ralph//Wedding Bells/Lonnie/Sale Of The Century/The
CD Bonus Tracks: Power Behind The
Throne/Babies/Snack Attack (Extended Version)
the room ready for Ralph is the room readied for Ralph have you readied the
room for Ralph is the room ready have you readied the room?... oh forget it I'm
going to the Notel Hotel..."
a sea of opinion out there that will tell you 'Ismism' is the only Godley-Creme
album out there that matters. They're wrong. Actually 'Ismism' is the only
Godley-Creme album you don't need, despite being their biggest seller and
containing three of their biggest hit singles. Actually arguably this album
matters less because it was their biggest seller - it's the one Godley-Creme
album that someone else could have conceivably thought up and as such is
pointless even compared to the 'what the???' response to the likes of
'Consequences' and 'L'. With even the halfway house of 'Freeze Frame' failing
to sell the pair knew that they had to change something in order to keep their
contract with Mercury. So we get something that's a Godley-Creme 'ish' (ism?)
record without being quite as outrageous or original. Half the album is made up
of spoof pop songs (so well made that few people discovering Godley-Creme for the
first time realised that they were intended as spoof pop songs), the other half
is what the average music fan in the street would consider 'arty' ideas. On the
one hand this album was exactly the success the duo needed - it made them big
again after they were in danger of being forgotten (so big that they got their
own joint compilation 'Changing Faces' with 10cc out of it, in which they take
top billing) and enabled them to make more music. The trouble is, this album
killed off the idea of them making any more 'art'. There's less to ruminate on
here than even the 10cc LPs, never mind the earlier Godley-Creme ones and while
'Ismism' is sometimes the band's funniest LP, it's lost that sense of a vast
canvas of life and is too busy laughing at easy targets like adverts, marriage
commerce and posers at parties instead of the dead-behind-the-eyes look of New
York or what it means to be alive. If 'Consequences' was a triple album in
terms of scope, then this one is barely a single.
at least the pair have found a way of increasing the musicality in their work
so that at least it sounds better than the first two albums, if not the third.
'Under Your Thumb' is a very early example of a song that manages to be
performed entirely electronically (except for Godley's voice) and it sounds
remarkably fresh, certainly compared to other younger songs from later in the
decade. 'Snack Attack' has so much going on it sounds like a production
powerhouse - it's just a shame that the song it supports is so empty. The cute ting-ting
of 'The Problem' would make a fine instrumental if Godley hadn't insisted on
reading out an impossible maths equation over the top of it. 'Sale Of The
Century' and 'Wedding Bells' are spot-on production parodies of typical slow
and fast songs about marital problems clogging up the charts in 1981. 'Joey's
Camel' updates 'Baron Samedi' with all the new technology invented since 1974.
'The Party' is technically brilliant, with criss-crossing party conversations
above a synth-riff that sounds like the background music played at every
interminable party I've ever been to (the 'I'm Not In Love' style vocals
reduced to being used simply as a doorbell is also a clever touch). 'Ready For
Ralph' is also brilliant elevator music with its tinny synths and parping
saxophones, whatever maid Godley is spouting about over the backing. Unfortunately,
whereas 'Consequences' was based on the gismo and 'Freeze Frame' was based on guitar, 'Ismism'
is based around some very 1980s soul-less saxophones. And regular listeners
know how I feel about soul-less 1980s saxophones, most of which is
unrepeatable. At least when the saxophones aren't playing this *sounds* a good
it any more than that, though, and 'Ismism' just isn't that funny or that
clever. Godley-Creme used to break so many musical boundaries that even they
couldn't always explain their work but the songs on this album are one-sided in
the extreme. You know where each of these songs are going from the first line -
in fact the monotony may well be the point, recalling the themes of the last
two albums about pop being mass produced factory fodder and there being more to
life than meets the eye. 'Consequences' and 'L' are about the bigger picture,
while 'Freeze Frame' is about the hidden picture; by contrast 'Ismism' is the
smaller picture in close-up, with details about camels and parties and getting
the room ready for Ralph which are snapshots of life that don't really teach us
much (except the tragedy of 'Under Your Thumb' perhaps). Perhaps that's why the
album cover is a 'pointillist' one, made up of lots of tiny dots that spell out
the band and record name. How on earth did 'Ismism' become such a runaway
success when the contemporary and rather brilliant 10cc album 'Ten Out Of Ten'
(released just a month later) got ignored? This one certainly doesn't get ten
out of ten, maybe a one for 'Under Your Thumb'. If I were you I'd buy the
singles on a compilation and skip this one entirely.
single version of 'Snack
Attack' is actually quite funny. Godley' has had his jaws wired and
cannot eat any solid foods, while he's haunted by the smeels of cooking speeing
in from the air conditioning next door. He's feeling hungry and the hunger
pangs won't let him sleep, so he hallucinates about all the meat he's eaten and
starts talking in slogans and McDonalds adverts, rapping them out like he's a
New Kid On The Block with every possible word that ends in '-ac' from 'Big Mac'
to 'Jack Kerouac' whether they make sense in context or not. Sadly the song
quickly becomes a long list of foods. On the very different album version,
though, 'Snack Attack' is played more like a tragedy, with Godley sounding
upset and guilty and the backing track menacing rather than manic. It really
doesn't work at all well, especially drawn out to seven long-sounding minutes
and a few exasperating saxophone solos over the top.
'Under Your Thumb' charges in like an express train - actually the best thing about
this song is the intense turbo-fuelled synth backing from Lol which really does
sound like a locomotive at speed. Sitting in the back carriage, Godley
sees/hallucinates a woman committing suicide by leaping off the train rather
than being 'under your thumb', though we never learn who the thumb belongs to.
It turns out she's a ghost, her body having been found the day before and
Godley reads about it in the paper he has with him when he tries to steady his
nerves. This is one of those songs that makes no sense when you analyse it (the
narrator doesn't do much to stop her when he thinks she's 'real', nor does he
re-act the way most people would when seeing a ghost), but sometimes it's best
not to analyse these things. At least 'Under Your Thumb' has a punchy
shoutalong chorus and an inventive synth-only backing way ahead of its time, even
if the lyrics are a bit suspect in places.
'Joey's Camel' is the rather out-of-tune tale of a naive innocent middle class
white man exploring Egypt with the help of some local servants and writing the
song as a letter to his mother. 'How did you escape?' is the tag line, but we never find out - instead we get
a Boy's Own paper version of antics in the desert that's far below
Godley-Creme's usual standard. It's also a little bit wrong: Egypt never had
cannibals did they?!
is never actually meant to be solved. It's a spoof of one of those 'if a man
travelling at two hours passing another man...' questions so beloved of maths
test papers. And that's it for four whole minutes, with the punch-line after
hours of travelling on various modes of transport (sorry if I spoil it) being
'how long would it take to run the bath?' The backing is more interesting than
what's happening up front, with a nice funky synth-bass riff and some nice
guitar and drum work from real instruments for a change.
track quickly segues into 'Ready
For Ralph' which recycles the same tune at a slightly faster speed and
features Godley asking over and over whether the room is ready for Ralph, Roy,
Rose and - just as we think we've sussed out the alliteration - Barry. Godley
gets lost in this tongue-twister and even coughs badly at the 0:50 point, but
you can barely hear what he's saying anyway those saxophones are just way too
'Wedding Bells' is a spot-on parody of the Motown songs Godley and Creme's
pre-10cc bands like Grumble and Frabjoy and Runciple Spoon always seemed to be
spoofing. Godley's vocal is super-smooth though and only the daftness of the
video with its oh-so-perfect choreography gives it away, plus a few clever
lyrics such as Godley admitting he was 'only window shopping' and 'there must
be a way of dropping these wedding bells'. A nice melody should really have
been saved for a much more substantial song than this, but it's good fun all
the same with a chance to hear Godley-Creme delivering the polar opposite of
what they normally do.
'Lonnie' is a
noisy song about growing old. The title character has just seen his face in the
mirror and the lines on his 42-year-old face.
At the time Kevin was 36 and Lol 34 but funnily enough folk hero Lonnie
Donegan was 41, so is this a sly comment on rock musicians hitting middle age
when they once hoped they'd die before they got old? Then again, this song is
set in 1963, on the day before Kennedy was assassinated to be specific, but
there's no link between that and this confusing spoken-word-with-saxophones
'Sale Of The Century' is a fourth music spoof, this time parodying the unlikely
team-up of quiz shows and gospel music. Godley wants to know if his significant
other would buy his heart at the sale of the century, a quiz show in the UK
presented by Nicholas Parsons. It sounds like a bargain to me but he gets no
bidders except some more treacly saxophones.
close on the torturous seven minutes of 'The Party', a song that's designed from the outset
as an uncomfortable listening experience, but of course that don't make it any
easier to listen to. Godley and Creme clearly don't want to be here, make
painful small talk and accidentally insult the host and most of the guests and
try to get themselves out of various holes. The best part comes when every
second person through the door is called 'John' and a choir of women announce
'darling!' in the background, closely followed by a chorus full of popping
champagne corks. Godley gets more defensive as a man at the party comes up to
him to tell him how to write: 'I don't like your songs very much, it's too
aggressive and butch' and tells them to 'write themselves a hit or three, like
I'm Not In Paris or The Dean and Me'. However from that part on this arty party
goes exactly where you think it will and is too close to the truth to be funny.
Excuse I'm gonna be...gonna be...So long Rick...
is a little like that - it feels like being at a party that's gone on for far
too long with a host that won't shut up and making uncomfortable small talk when you were hoping for riveting
debates about bigger issues. 'Ismism' is a little show-off that's got nothing
really to show off about but keeps trying to attract your attention anyway and
coming so soon after 'Freeze Frame' feels almost embarrassingly safe and empty.
Quite a few of the people who bought this album off the back of the hit singles
couldn't stand the rest - and yet there's quite a few Godley-Creme fans out
there who feel the parodies rather interrupt the flow. Surely though they're
both wrong - this is just unlistenable on both halves. Never mind poor Ralph,
this album clearly wasn't ready and is as close to unlistenable as you'd
imagine a whole album of filler to sound like.
and Creme "Bird Of Prey"
My Body The Car/The Worm and The
Rattlesnake/Cat's Eyes/Samson/Save A Mountain For Me//Madame
Guillotine/Woodwork/Twisted Nerve/Out In The Cold
CD Bonus Tracks: Welcome To Breakfast
Television/Samson (Dance Mix)/Golden Boy (Single Edit)/Samson (Promo
Edit)/Golden Boy (LOng Version)
did the meaning of our love get lost in pointless cabaret?"
of Prey' is an improvement, of sorts, but Godley and Creme sound more like
pigeons nibbling at the toes of greatness than the birds of prey they used to
be. The songs - and they are all 'songs' this time, not monologues or logic
problems or whatever the hell most of 'Consequences' was all about - have moved
backwards a bit, away from the digital synths of 'Ismism' and back towards a
more 10cc sound, making this the band's most 'musical' album. The level of
writing has improved a notch too, bookended with two very inventive songs - the a capella song of ageing 'My Body The
Car' (think The King's Singers on acid and holding spark plugs) and the vocoder-ised
nightmare of isolation 'Out In The Cold'
(think Kraftwerk after listening to too much roaring twenties jazz). Both songs
are overlooked amongst Godley and Creme's canon as a whole and certainly have a
lot more going on up top than any of the songs from the last album. They're the
real birds of prey here, top-notch songs quite unlike anything else that don't
give a hoot about whether you like them or not - and no, there is no reason why
this album is called 'Birds Of prey' that I can see (something about the strong
preying on the weak perhaps, but that happens on two songs on this album, not
all nine. Does that count as a link? Well, this is a Godley-Creme album so
anything goes, but honestly who knows).
problem, is the rest of the songs aren't in the same league. Following on from
songs about singing toasters that can't move and phobias infecting adult life
nobody else would write, all we get are bland songs about a prisoner dreaming
of escape and the umpteenth AAA song about a race-horse. Admittedly we do we
get a love song about a guillotine, but that's about as weird as this album
gets and Godley-Creme's stabs at being conventional don't even match the level
of 'Under Your Thumb' and 'Wedding Bells'. After a two year gap, it's a shame
that the duo couldn't come up with more than three-quarters of an album of
filler material but that's basically all
this is. This is also, worryingly, the only Godley and Creme album without a
theme (at least that I can see), more a series of vignettes that should have
been a collection of singles instead as they don't really fit together on
record that well (though the theme of betrayal and loss crops up a couple of
times). Perhaps Godley-Creme's new interest in videos was taking up too much of
their time? That's where the oddest of the pair's cover artworks comes from by
the way, a dominatrix whose part invisible standing in front of a wardrobe. No,
me neither. At just 37 minutes (that's just over a quarter of 'Consequences')
this is also way too short.
narrator has been driving around in 'My Body The Car' for 36 years - which suggests that Creme mainly
wrote this song (he was that age but his partner was 38). Kevin puts in a great
performance, though, on a witty extended metaphor about having one careless
owner and needing an MOT. It's worrying to learn that Godley is 'leaking oil'
(he should get that seen to pronto), but the worry about going in to the
doctor's for a check-up being like taking your jalopy to the garage is spot-on.
The backing is sublime too, continuing Godley-Creme's desire to do something
different with voices by have them singing the entire backing track via a bunch
of vocal noises which do sound very much like a car going through the motions.
An excellent track without any need for repairs anywhere.
be honest with you, I really don't understand 'The Worm and The Rattlesnake'. Admittedly I'd be
lying if I said I understood more than the bare basics of 'Consequences' as
well, but at least it felt as if I wasn't meant to know what that album was
about. This track, though, is dressed up to sound poppy and contemporary with a
tale of a 'Garden of Eden' where they play 'Bert Weedon' and the inhabitants
can get up to all sorts of naughty things as multiple Adams and Eves fall in
love. Is this what mankind was up to before he was ejected? If so, where's the
apple? Paradise ain't what it used to be.
'Johnny Didn't Do It?' from the first 10cc album? Well Johnny's in love on 'Cat's Eyes' ('though it was
only slumming') and it's another forgettable 50s rockabilly spoof. This one has
an 80s makeover too that doesn't suit it one iota and a questionable lyric that
borders on stalking as Johnny follows his bosses' wife home - big mistake!
'Samson' is perhaps the most
commercial song here and is a traditional sounding song about a race-horse with
very untraditional lyrics. Confusingly there seem to be two Samsons, a father
whose an 'easy ride' and a son whose a champion racer. The latter saves his
rider, Delilah, from a rattlesnake lurking in the bushes and they have a baby
(?!) before he gets put down. Well, horses for courses I suppose. The backing
sounds like every other horse song ever written, from The Byrds' 'Chestnut
Mare' to Paul Simon's 'One Trick Pony' with a similar plodding gait.
closest thing to a hit single from the album, 'Save A Mountain For Me', is wretched. Godley and
Creme have been listening to too much Righteous Brothers and Jailhouse Rock and
come up with a tearful dramatic ballad about a prisoner breaking rocks who
wonders if there'll be any of the world left to break up when he gets out.
Godley performs an excellent vocal but the melody is unmemorable and the lyrics
a little clumsy by the pair's usual standards.
'Madame Guillotine' is an unusual re-telling of The French Revolution in modern-day
terms. I've never heard of one written over a pulsing synth-beat for starters
or told like a cowboy film before. The narrator knows he's going to meet his
doom as he spies on what his ex is up to and shoots her lover dead. For a
second song in a row, the prisoner can hear the singing from hell opening up
beneath him. Musically this is one of the better songs on the album, with a
tense and atmospheric string part that's
more effective dramatically than anything on 'Mountain'. Lyrically, though,
this is just weird.
is a Michael Jackson-soundalike dance song (yes, a dance song!) about a shy man
whose just gone through a split and found himself stronger through independence
than his partner is, so back she comes crawling out the woodwork. This is one
of the better songs on the album, with some distinctive vocals and a fast
uptempo beat unusual for Godley and Creme. This is also one of the simplest
songs they ever made.
'Twisted Nerve' is the most inventive song by a country mile, with Godley
crooning over a repetitive pulsing synth beat that must have sounded way ahead
of its time in 1983 (it still sounds a little bit ahead of our times now). The
best Kylie Minogue song...well I was going to say that she never made but no,
scrap that, her songs are awful - this is just the best Kylie Minogue song,
sultry and danceable but with far better lyrics. You see, this sultry sexy song
is really a sequel to 'The Sacro-Illiac' from 'Sheet Music', with the exotic
poses the narrator's lover is pulling due to her bad back rather than anything
erotic. Alas after a funny first verse this song gets boring, talking about a
girl who realises her boy doesn't love him and it plays on her mind.
album then bows out with the powerful 'Out In The Cold', a production master-class as an only-just
recognisable couple of Godleys tell us about the night he was thrown out of the
family home after a row. This song is the epitome of isolation and alienation
with Godley not even recognisable as human as everything in his world changes.
Includes the memorable line 'Now I'm just a broken piano that no one wants to
play'. The saxophones from 'Ismism' return but are thankfully more sparingly
and better used this time around.
then, 'Birds of Prey' has a lot more going for it than the better known
'Ismism' ever did but it still falls short of what the earlier albums were
doing (yes, ok, 'Consequences' and 'L' fall far short of what they could have
been but they were aiming for such heights even an early fall moves them quite
far down the pantheon of long-players). Caught somewhere in the middle of
Godley and Creme's rise as inventive artists and fall as commercial sell-outs,
'Bird Of Prey' needs at least three more decent songs to be recommended and
could do with losing a couple that are here as well. But when 'Birds Of Prey'
pounces, it can still take your breath away.
and Creme "The History Mix Volume One"
Wet Rubber Soup/Cry//Expanding The
Business-The Dare You Man-Hum Drum Boys In Paris-Mountain Tension
CD Re-Issue ('History Mix Plus...')
Cry (Single Edit)/Love Bombs/Snack
Attack (Single Version)/Wet Rubber Soup (Single Edit)/Golden Boy/Light Me
Up/Golden Boy (12" Mix)
and Creme celebrated twenty-five years in the music business (they dated it
from their meeting at art college) with a bizarre mish-mash of loads of their
old tracks broken up, thrown in the air, cellotaped back together again and
fused back into new songs, whether they fit or not. The result is, on the one
hand, very clever and way before it's time and beats the 1990s trend for
sampling and The Beatles' similarly-conceived (and equally pointless) 'Love'
album by another fifteen years. However, as a listening experience it's
horrific and like one of those jigsaws where the pieces don't fit but have been
stuck together anyway. Without any main song going on underneath we just get
lots of random words going pass and it's more entertaining to try and work out
where they come from than actually listen to this album. 'Minnie Mouse has got
it....up!' 'Hum drum days in a hum drum ways' and the 'aaahs' from 'I'm Not In
Love' float past, based around bass riffs lifted from 'Rubber Bullets' and some
orgasmic screams from one or other of the videos Godley and Creme directed down
the years. It's enough to make you dizzy and not in a good way. Perhaps
thankfully there never was a 'volume two' despite the ominous subtitle, perhaps
because Godley-Creme only made one more album together after this one before
having a falling out. Nice self portraits on the inner sleeve, though, with
Godley and Creme resembling The Goons.
album's one saving grace though is, of course, 'Cry', a stunning piece of
emotion that stands out amongst all the rest of the clever-cerebral thinking like
tears at a game of poker. Clearly following on from the songs loss on 'Birds Of
Prey', Godley admits that he's moved to tears by a recent breakup and the root
of it is a misunderstanding that breaks his heart and makes him wanna cry.
Though amongst the pair's simplest and most direct songs, this is also amongst
their best with a passion and drama that demands everything from Godley from a
deep sarcastic grumble to a falsetto cry (actually a lot of falsetto cries that
get higher in pitch at the end, the only characteristic Godley-Creme touch in
the whole song). Lol's synth-heavy backing also sounds impressively warm and
tender for a collection of instruments that are largely digital and un-real,
with the push going into the last verse truly exceptional. The pair's
best-selling song by some margin, the single was definitely helped on its way
by the inventive video which merged faces of a whole cast of extras into each
other to emphasise the universal appeal. This is Godley's baby though and he's
never ever better than here. What a shame, though, that it doesn't appear on a
proper album but is lost in between some cynical re-tread of 'Business Is
Business' from 'L' and a mind-numbing five minute repeat of 'Big Boys Don't
Cry' from 'I'm Not In Love'. The extras are particularly good on this CD though
and make for an excellent mini-album if you ignore the main course, especially
the moody and magnificent single 'Golden Boy' which deserved to do even better
as the follow-up to 'Cry'.
and Creme "Goodbye Blue Sky"
H.E.A.V.E.N./A Little Piece Of
Heaven/Don't Set Fire To The One I Love/Golden Rings/Crime and Punishment/The
Big Bang//10,000 Angels/Sweet Memory/Airforce One/The Last Page Of
ain't no Goddamn special effect, it's the last page of history!"
Godley and Creme have finally worked out how to combine their vision with
something that's actually listenable on their final album, but it was finding
that path that effectively broke them up, 'Blue Sky' is very different to the
five albums that come before it, working on different levels depending how
deeply into things you want to go. For most casual listeners who only knew the
band from 'Wedding Bells' and 'Cry' this is a solid collection of hummable
songs with Godley in good voice and Creme in good instruments (without a synth
in sight), full of catchy choruses and the glossiest production yet. For deeper
fans, though, this is a welcome return to the idea of something that bit bigger
than mere pop songs that ran through their early work, being nothing less than
a collection of songs pondering mankind's possible futures and whether we're
all going to die in some horrific accident of our own making. Though casual
music fans just hear the cute choirs of angels and the laidback melodies, those
who like to find deeper meanings in music get to hear the scary things God is
telling the angels as he creates a world he knows is doomed and if you're
paying attention you can hear the countdown to our imminent doom across the
album. This goodbye to our blue skies is either as pretty or as pretty dark as
you want it to be and works well at being either, or both.Though there are
moments of wacky 10cc-style fun here ('Don't Set Fire To The One I Love'
borrows back from wannabe pretenders Beautiful South what they blatantly stole
from Godley and Creme) and we also have the first ever Godley-Creme love songs
that don't need a dictionary to be understood, generally speaking we're back to
the sort of songs no one else in their right mind would cover. And that's a
good thing, honest.
because no one else would have taken such top 40 radio ideas and given them
such quirky arrangements. By 1988 everybody, even ex-Beatles, were using the synth
sound the duo had pioneered so characteristically Godley and Creme go to the
other extreme and become one of the few acts of the era using real, live, warm
'human' performances. This is the great era of the Godley-Creme music videos
(when they worked with everyone from Duran Duran to Frankie Goes To Hollywood
to The Beatles comeback single 'Real Love', via Paul McCartney's 'C'mon
People') and they were particularly impressed with a trio of singers they met
at a Paul Young shoot. Though unknown singers at the time, all three would go
on to find fame in the 1990s dance band 'Londonbeat' and add a touch of soul
and gospel to these tales of religious
dogma still being played out in the present day. The three singers even
get the a capella opening track 'H.E.A.V.E.N' to themselves, sounding like
10cc's very own Ladysmith Black mambazo. The other signature sound of this
album is the sea of harmonicas played by five separate players (including
future 'sixth Oasis' member Mark Feltham) who are used in a very distinct and
unusual manner. The initial plan was to have one soloist playing one part per
song, but when he asked Godley and Creme which harmonica out of his set of
different keys and octaves they wanted him to bring, they hatched the idea of
having the harmonicas playing en masse, stacked up to sound as big as the
Biblical ideas covered in the lyrics. As far as I know no other album has ever
used that sound in quite the same way and while it doesn't always work (the
harmonicas play on everything bar the a capella opening and sound shoe-horned
in at a couple of places), it gives 'Blue Sky' a unique and unusual sound quite
unlike anything else. Frankly, Godley and Creme should have discovered this
trick earlier and made a string of albums like these with, say, a sea of tubas
and a girl band on their next release.
there was no record after this one. Godley and Creme had spent a very intense
decade together, following a pretty intense decade in and out of various bands
(including 10cc) before that and spending their time between intense video
shoots and record productions (both notorious for lots of waiting and long
periods with nothing to do) was getting even to their friendship. Though
neither has really talked about their split, it seems a deep one with both men
refusing to be in the same room from the point after this album's publicity
juggernaut stopped rolling to this. 'Goodbye Blue Sky' was a hard album to
make, with lots of elaborate arrangements and a re-think over the instruments
partway through, while the many guest artists cluttering up the album gives
less and less to Lol to do while Kevin takes up even more of the spotlight
(it's a real shame that Creme doesn't sing on more of the duo's records - he
did, after all, have more top 40 10cc hits with his vocals than Godley, even if
most are agreed that Kevin has the more natural voice). The pair aren't just
saying goodbye to the world on this album, then, but each other and in places
it's as if there's an extra layer of sadness and finality even beyond the point
where the world is about to be destroyed and it's all our fault. For all the
misery across the album, though, like 'Consequences' the final encore turns
things around and 'Desperate Times' takes a sad song and makes things better,
showing us that things are never final and people can always change. After all,
the title waves goodbye to 'blue sky' times, it doesn't actually say what comes
next (we're meant to think it's storm clouds, but maybe it's a rainbow?) even
if the feeling across this album that 'we're doomed!!!!' sadly seems to be
rather prescient for the post 9/11 age (even if it made the album feel very out
of step wat the time when contemporary albums celebrated the thawing of the
cold war). So far the world has listened and started behaving (though who knows
what will happen with Donald Trump), but sadly Godley and Creme haven't taken
their own advice and the closest they've come to working together since is
being interviewed for the same TV programmes or newspaper interviews - albeit
from different continents. 'Goodbye Blue Sky' is nowhere near good enough to
risk ending a longstanding friendship for then, but at least all that creative
tension is at least put to use across this album.
'Goodbye Blue Sky' is missing that one strong standout song that can turn a
good album into a great piece of art and though no other album sounds anything
like this one, it is probably fair to say that most tracks on it do sound like
each other, just with varied tempos. It's not as inventive or imaginative as
'Freeze Frame', nor probably quite as musical despite the high production
values and surprisingly high quota of choruses (when did Godley or Creme even
write a chorus last?!) However 'Blue Sky' ticks all the major boxes: it's a
very consistent album with no bad tracks, it's beautifully sung and performed,
is easy on the ear but cuts deep into the brain if you let it while following a
strong concept to a natural conclusion in a style that no other act was ever
quite brave enough to pull off. Everything was falling into place: this should
have been a re-birth, not a death. But then perhaps the biggest lesson of the
whole album is that endings are inevitable and often even beautiful.
spells out a capella loveliness as George Chandler, Jimmy Helms and Jimmy
Chambers combine to lovely effect as they remind us about our 'purpose here'.
The afterlife has never sounded more beautiful and hopeful and yet the message
is ignored. An ear-catching opening, although it's more than a little odd that
neither Godley nor Creme appear on their album's opening track at all.
'A Little Piece Of Heaven' is as middle of the road Godley and Creme ever got. A smoochy
song that wouldn't be out of place on an Andy Williams record, it has a touch
of the Riviera about it and an unusually straightforward lyric about falling in
love. However there's still a typical lyrical twist: after the honeymoon period
a 'mystery man' breaks into their home and causes distance between the couple,
something Godley wants to put right. A lovely tune and a great use of lots of
different harmonicas can't escape the feeling that Godley-Creme should be delivering
something a little bit deeper than this piece of fluff, especially on an album
about the end of the world.
'Don't Set Fire (To The One I Love)' is good advice everyone should follow. Godley's narrator has
heard that the world is about to end and wonders what he'll do - sit in the
garden and watch the wildlife? Go to church and pray? 'Sit in the garden and
kiss my ass goodbye?!?' Realising that all he wants is for his loved ones to be
safe, he realises that everyone everywhere is wishing for exactly for the same
as everyone the whole world over asks 'why-y-y-y-y-e-y?' The pearly gates are
closed to the mass influx, as nobody took any heed of the angels' warnings, but
ominously 'the other place is still open'. A noisy, aggressive backing track
could almost be described as fun without the words with the Londonbeat boys
turning in some chirpy backing vocals against a tough posse of harmonicas.
'Golden Rings' would be a mega-hit for somebody - but not for Godley-Creme, at
least not performed like this. Realising that the world is never safe and
nothing is for certain, Godley buys his love an engagement ring to prove that
their love at least is there forever. So far so normal, but the mixture of
harmonicas and doo-wop is deeply unusual and there's a typical middle eight
twist too where Godley stops, in horror, with visions of himself as a
house-husband doing all the chores ('all the live-long day!') The couple break
up and go their separate ways, proving that their relationship wasn't that
permanent after all, but she keeps the ring as a momento because their love
was. I thought love was a minestrone myself.
'Crime and Punishment' may well be the best song, a powerful and angry seven minute
epic that starts in Latin and claims that on judgement day no one can ever
hide. 'We thought the end would never come - but it's coming now!' roars Godley
as the Londonbeat lot chant like a mixture of a chain gang and old testment
prophets. You'll never harmonicas in the same way after hearing the mass of
eerie parts on this record too. An unusual lyric for a usually most irreligious
band, but there's no joking in this song - this is deadly serious, for perhaps
the only time in the entire Godley-Creme canon.
one ends with the blistering retro rocker 'The Big Bang' (well you can't get more retro than
the creation of the world really, can you?) Godley gets all Alexis Korner as he
literally plays God and creates the universe and 'you and me' . 'The Lord was
cooking with a smile on his face' when he created the Earth apparently and
handed the task of making man to the Devil, but he's not taking any blame for
what goes wrong: 'It's all the fault of that ass in The White House down
there!' For all the importance of the lyrics, though, this is all good fun and
no other song in history has included the pre-solo lines 'take it, God!' with
quite so much relish.
on side two God is sending '10,000
Angels' with 10,000 devils close behind as they try to shape the world.
Godley is called a liar but says that it's true and not just a trick of the
light as everyone says - 'they used to be stars' and are 'playing gold
guitars!' The most gospel track on the album is made more bearable thanks to an
extraordinary harmonica solo from Feltham that's played at top speed and makes
the song bound along with real urgency and energy. The tune is rather lovely
too, sounding rather McCartney-ish in its scope and roundedness.
'Sweet Memory' is a rather drab song by past standards, a treacly pop song
about a lovely time that's locked into Godley's memory-banks and he can't quite
get to it. Given that this song shrieks top 40 hit in a way that no other
Godley-Creme song ever does (even 'Cry', commercial as it is, isn't a
'traditional' sounding hit), it's a surprise that this song never was a single.
It is all rather forgettable sadly, which is quite ironic actually given that
the song is basically about memory loss!
'Airforce One' updates 'Clockwork Creep' with a tragi-comedy about the imminent
end of the world and the increasingly desperate attempts to contact the
President (Reagan in this era) and ask if he's ok. After all, he wouldn't
really blow us all up to Kingdom come for his own ego would he? Godley-Creme
are clearly influenced by their video for Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 'Two
Tribes' here, with a tale of how stupid pressing that button would be: who
wants to win a world with 'no breathable air?' The backing is more circus than
anything else though, funny but also rather unsettling and creepy. This is
usually the point in horror films where something nasty happens...
so it proves, with 'The Last
Page Of History' a stunning near-finale, wrapping up all loose ends and
seeing the end of the world. Godley's heading down a road, at the end of a long
shift in isolation, wondering why everyone is going the other way. There's a
big black mushroom cloud in the far distance, but given what he's been doing
all day there's a knowing in-joke as he assumes they're shooting a music video.
'I got to get back to town!' urges Godley, while the Londonbeat posse warn him
'There ain't no town to get back to!' With a riff nicked from 'La
Mersaillaise', the French National anthem (you know, the piece The Beatles
improved on in 'All You Need Is Love'), this is a cheeky song that laughs at
our final end (Godley-Creme may be onto something here, seeing it panning out
like a reality TV show of people grinning for the cameras, with a cameo from a
truck of harmonica players breaking into a solo). Sly, sarcastic and deeply
dark, there's still a sense of real loss underneath this track best summed up
by Godley's desperate plea, 'But I'm famous, I'm rich!' to which the backing
singers reply 'No, you're one dead sonofabitch!' After making us laugh for five
whole minutes the song basically tells us off for laughing - this isn't a
special effect, you know, it's the end of mankind as we know it. This isn't
funny, truly, this is horrific
catalogue then ends with 'Desperate
Times', an uncharacteristic Elton John-ish piano ballad about how the
way we've been living is 'wrong' and we have to change before it kills us.
Though the song sports another lovely melody the lyrics don't quite have the
same power and we're so used to hearing Godley-Creme up to some double meaning
that it's hard to take this song and Godley's fine vocal at face value -
especially when the backing singers come in just so and the harmonica solos are
just that bit too blues (though again Feltham is terrific). Again, though, this
is serious: the world's about to end, it's no laughing matter and more fool us
for thinking it would be. ]
then, 'Goodbye Blue Sky' is something of an anomaly in the Godley-Creme
catalogue. More sombre than most, more thoughtful and a lot more mainstream, it
also manages to cover ground that no other album would dare try - the unique
backing, the themes of God and the president destroying the world between them
out of pique and what would really happen if someone launched a nuclear attack
makes for an album quite unlike any other. Though this record is far from
perfect and at times feels a little too obvious for a band who once brought us
weirdo triple LPs and damn the 'Consequences', it's heart is in the right place
and there's a lot more heart than brains on this record for once, as we get
themes of love, loss and fear rather than the usual cerebral crossword puzzles
and musical art installation pieces of old. Just because you liked the others
doesn't mean you'll like this one because they really are different and liking
this one really doesn't mean you'll like the others. But there are far worse
ways to say goodbye - to both the planet and the artists. Unbelievably there
will be a four year gap before we hear from anyone involved in 10cc again, a
period of time unbroken even by a compilation...
A NOW COMPLETE LIST OF 10cc ARTICLES TO READ AT ALAN’S ALBUM