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Godley & Creme - Consequences CD (album) cover

CONSEQUENCES

Godley & Creme

 

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3.64 | 30 ratings

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HolyMoly
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
4 stars Kevin Godley and Lol Creme were songwriting partners in the very successful art-pop band10cc in the mid 1970s. The other songwriting partnership in that band, Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart, were the more conventional poppers, while Godley and Creme generally steered the band into quirkier territory. In fact, while in 10cc, they invented an electronic device called the "Gizmo", a little box attached to the bridge end of a guitar with a little keyboard on it. The effect it produced was a "bowing" effect (as in violin bow), I guess similar in concept to the "E-bow" developed years later. Eventually they figured out how to make a wide range of sounds with this device, and decided in 1976 to make a demonstration single to help promote their invention. That was the original plan, anyway.

What eventually happened was that Godley and Creme left 10cc to devote their full energies to this, a vast three-record concept album based almost entirely on sounds produced by the Gizmo. Imagine what guts those guys had. The result is one of the most confounding, eccentric album packages ever conceived. But is it good? Yes and no.

The concept: Mother Nature reclaims the Earth with violent storms and other natural disasters, destroying everything in her path; such are the "Consequences" of Man's abuse of Earth's natural resources. Meanwhile an eccentric man (who has predicted all along that this would happen, and even correctly predicted the day it would happen) composes a Piano Concerto designed to pacify Mother Nature and thus save the human race. Meanwhile (and here's where things get really weird), there's a very long and somewhat tedious black comedy going on in this man's attic (?) between two lawyers and their clients who are in the process of divorce proceedings. In the end, this eccentric man (Mr. Blint) unleashes his grand Piano Concerto (all of side 6, as it happens), and presumably all ends well, since I'm still alive and writing this review right now.

The execution: The first record (sides one and two) is entirely instrumental, and entirely performed using the Gizmo. Musical sounds of every conceivable type are blended in exciting ways - horns, strings, wind effects, crashing waves, voices, a large rock festival being decimated by a storm, and so on, all produced by this device. Just read this excerpt from the producer's fascinating liner notes included in the set:

"Getting a guitar to sound like a saxophone seemed an impossible task, but it was achieved after three days in the studio. Each note of a guitar solo was recorded separately and faded in on the track so there would be no percussive element. The track was sent through a speaker and out of a rubber hose with perforated cigarette paper at the end. Enough pressure was displaced by forcing the sound through the holes of the cigarette paper to give the rasp of a saxophone"

Far out, huh? Good thing we now have samplers to do all that sort of thinking for us.

Sides three, four and five are dominated by a strange little comedic play written and performed by the talented comedian Peter Cook. This is where the dialogue concerning the divorce proceedings mentioned above happens. Low key pop songs (songs! the first time I actually mentioned songs in this review!) show up every now and then, but they seem secondary to the dry, pun-filled, not-quite-funny-but-not-quite-anything-else-either dialogue. This is the part of the album I'm most prone to skipping, mainly because the dialogue is really hard to digest unless you listen very closely (most of it is real quiet), and even then I still find myself scratching my head in confusion most of the time. Seems like they could have thought this part through a little better.

Finally, side six is "Blint's Tune (Movements 1-17)", in all its pretentious glory (I mean that in an endearing sense). A 14 minute Piano Concerto (still relying heavily on Gizmo sounds, but featuring real piano) that really is quite dramatic, enjoyable, and satisfying. I'm still left wondering what the point of all this was, and why we needed three records to do it, but it's as good a finale as I could have asked for.

When I first heard about this album a few years ago, I longed to own it, despite the fact that every review I read said it was terrible. It's just one of those oddities that exemplify the kind of anything-goes atmosphere that pervaded certain intellectual sectors in the 1970s - this was released, by the way, with full support by a major label, Polygram/Mercury, who thought they just might have a new "Tubular Bells" on their hands. Using primitive technology by today's standards, Godley and Creme aimed for nothing less than making an album with sounds never before heard on a record. And they pulled it off - barely. But I'll give this basically three-star album an extra star just for showing so much moxie.

HolyMoly | 4/5 |

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