Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lol Creme & Kevin Godley – L

   One of most significant and recognized duos in progressive rock history is assuredly Godley-Creme. During 11 years of the collaboration they recorded seven albums, numerous singles and music videos. Lol Creme and Kevin Godley were playing together years before they started the duo. Their professional paths had intertwined since end of fifties, through rock and roll decade when they were members of The Magic Lanterns, than in 1970 they played in Doctor Father and Hotlegs. And in 1972 together with Eric Stewart from Hotlegs and Kevin Godley’s school friend Graham Gouldman (in mid-sixties both were playing in The Mindbenders) they started official history of 10cc – a supergroup from Stockport active in soft rock and art rock genres.
   Lol Creme and Kevin Godley started their duo career with triple-LP album Consequences in 1977. Despite many great ideas and improvements in technology of sound recording, project of two artists, formerly musicians of 10cc, met with vast criticism. Not disheartened with malevolent opinions, artists take most common objection concerning the length of album and produced the very next year album L as concentrated, 34 minutes long collection of seven songs. But despite production changes, more consistent, clear content and less extravagance, music of Godley-Creme duo still met hostility of critics and second album became commercial failure.

Lol Creme & Kevin Godley – L (1978)

   Second album was recorded in Surrey Sound Studios Leatherhead Surrey between March and June 1978. Reactions on Consequences were already known, and as we know it was disappointing for artists. As before entire material for this album was recorded by two multi instrumentalists – Kevin Godley on drums and a wide range of percussion instruments, Lol Creme played keyboards, bass and various types of guitars including gizmo, drums, and both were singing. The exceptions were saxophone parts played by Andy Mackay and Jonathan Handelsman. There was also Paul Gambaccini recorded the voice of Bad Samaritan in The Sporting Life. Album was dense and consistent in musical action and lyrics. Its creativity has expressed in freedom and joy of experimenting with forms of popular and rock music.
   All material has been composed and written by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. The songs of L have strong multilayer musical and word structures. Sometimes these are poetic visions sometimes an utterance on social issues, and all songs are perfectly joining deep lyrics with musical artistry, meanings with rich, constantly changing points of view. This is polystylistic, complex structure rather draining from popular culture, than creating pop music. And it shows reference to Frank Zappa was not an accident. In fact the idea of building music using pop culture material, not only songs but also commercials and common sounds, all mixed in massive arrangements, with Godley’s marimba and melodic percussion was very much close to some ideas of Over Nite Sensation and late projects of Mothers of Invention.

Lol Creme & Kevin Godley - Punchbag (1978)

   This is perfect case of two creative musicians trying to find their own receipt for progressive, ambitious music, basing on soft rock, clear for all and deep for insiders. And in fact they found it in self-irony, originality and quality of musical material. There remains an open question on how much irony soft rock public can tolerate. Anyway they didn’t buy, critics didn’t want to speak about. Nobody clearly demands artists should have the one and only destination. It’s clear Godley-Creme albums were poorly received because some 10cc fans just can’t forgive they are no longer in the band. It’s significant the best position on charts they had with 1987 compilation Changing Faces where duo songs were placed together with 10cc hits. On the other hand no songs from L album were taken.
   The story of Godley-Creme duo can be regarded as a clear case of non-musical grounds in musical business. Both were talented musicians thus anyway they were appreciated – especially for their contribution in soft rock, for pioneering new ideas of music visualizations, for producing great music videos. For many first albums of Godley-Cream duo are just some eccentric music, a kind of side path of musical evolution. Maybe some critics were biased as if they could not forgive parting 10cc. I think this is also a story of misunderstanding artistic ideas by the public demanding more trendy songs than inspiring artistic expression. Business and art are fundamentally different and duo Godley-Creme should be considered as the art work first and foremost. And I’m pretty sure with passing time there will be increasing number of those who think so. Four stars and I hesitate whether to add a half.

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