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Godley & Creme - Freeze Frame CD (album) cover


Godley & Creme


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3.33 | 29 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I still keep my vinyl, and I play regularly each and every year since 1980, some more recurrently than others. Even though I'm only partially familiar with 10cc's post How Dare You catalogue and with GC's catalogue, I might as well be so bold as to state that 10cc's best music after the original quartet's demise was created by the visionary duet of Lol Creme and Kevin Godley. The duo's third effort caught the attention of many with the videoclip to 'An Englishman in New York', which is now regarded as a classic of late 70s- early 80s British pop-rock. I was too young to grasp the whole artistic concept, but sure it was amazing to watch those mannequins filling a plastic orchestra and a couple of stylized dramatizations of NY's stressed life. The whole version comprises what may be the best set of lyrics ever written by Godley-Creme: everything from the tension between the traditional and modern sides of the Jewish community, the Russian mob and Nam veterans on the dole, to rapists, mad consummerism, conservative groups boredring on racialism,... is covered here in a very Sinfield-esque fashion. The track's obviously fake big band mood and catchy melody makes it for a big opener. Things turn definitely more somber with the pairing of tracks 1 and 2, one of the most adventorous pieces in the album. 'Random Brainwave' is a tale of thought control that is set on a basis of dual acoustic guitars (shared by Creme and Phil Manzanera): upon these emerge keyboard and guitar layers, plus a brief, abrupt psychedelic-funky interlude. 'I Pity Inanimate Objcts' goes to far more places, with the same dual guitars (all by Creme), this time going for a simulation of Eastern raga. The guitar leads (apparently processed across a synthesizer) provide a cutting edge for the insttumenta ldeliveries, but the most astounding thing is the cleverly neurotic use of sundry distorted pitches for the vocal parts. Since the lyrics seem to portray a parody of philosophy, I interpret the use of these demented pitch switches as the ultimate mockery at cheap existentialism and cry-baby mysticism. The digital gasping in the choruses is also quite weird. 'I Pity...' is something that perhaps wouldn't have been out of place on any of Peter Hammill's 78-80 albums. The title track bears a more accessible feel, catchy and rocky, with a featured presence of pleasant synth ornaments, but still keeps loyal to Godley & Creme's penchant for extravagant musical ideas: the lyrics portray the origins and development of a series of interconnected massive phobias, and the arrangements include the use of processed continued syllables, as if the word at the moment was freezing in time. There are two other 10cc-related songs: 'Mugshots' and 'Get Well Soon'. The former is a new wave song with added reggae-like touches, basically catchy but not exempted of odd tricks. The latter, which close down the album, is a mid-tempo song also filled with tropical atmospheres (mostly because of the meticulous percussive section): with the honorary presence of Paul McCartney as backing vocalist, this song makes a sceptic statement against commercial, using Radiol Luxembourg as the chosen specific target. Tracks 5 and 6 are the other ones with Manzanera as special guest. 'Clues' is a psychedelic pop-rock piece that kind of predates what The Police would do in many songs from Ghost in the Machine and onwards. The guitar riffs, phrases and ornaments are patently eerie, the drum kit fills spaces all over, and the tuned percussion resources era inevitably mesmeric. 'Brazilia (Wish Yoou Were Here)' is the longest song, and also, the least structured as a song per se: it sounds more like a basic jam with wicked twists incorporated to take the listener by surprise. It starts with a 7/8 soft jazz-fusion motif, with lyrics spoken, hummed or processed through engineered multi-layered vocals. The shifts of mood and pace conjure images of calypso and samba (well-ordained and weird at the same time) before the main jam returns for the final half a minute. What else can I say about an album that played such a big role in my childhood's initiation into record collecting? Well, sweet memories aside, I think with time I've become objective enough to be capable of pondering Freeze Frame as a great piece of art- rock. It sure would fit in any prog rock collection, since it shows Godley and Creme exploring their unabashedly extravagant sense of art in pop-rock music.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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