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Godfathers - Songs about Love and Hate : An Intro

  by John Clarkson

published: 13 / 1 / 2002

Godfathers - Songs about Love and Hate : An Intro


The band’s second album, and their most famous work, ‘Birth, School, Work, Death’ came out in February 1988. The album had the more polished and slightly slicker feel that a larger budget brings, but

The band’s second album, and their most famous work, ‘Birth, School, Work, Death’ came out in February 1988. The album had the more polished and slightly slicker feel that a larger budget brings, but The Godfathers had lost known of their anger or raw edge. There were three singles off the album. The title track and the first single was written in the initial aftermath of Margaret Thatcher’s third election victory of 1987, and was conceived, as the Coynes have described it in sleeve notes that accompany a Godfathers compilation album also entitled ‘Birth, School, Work, Death’, because the band "wanted to make a political rocker that captured the futility that we felt in the air at the moment." Its blustering, defiant anger ; chanted chorus and spirited, aggresive guitarwork made it the most guttural and explosive of all the Godfathers’ songs so far, and, nearly a hit, it remains to date the best known and most admired of all the bands’ songs. ‘Cause I Said So’, the album’s second single, was in similar vein, and its deliberate dumbed-down and crassly unintelligent lyrics were written from the perspective of a Thatcherite opportunist. The original cover of this single featured an Andy Warhol style picture of Margaret Thatcher wearing a Hitler moustache and was quickly banned by CBS. The third record off the album was a reworked version of ‘Love is Dead’. Other tracks on ‘Birth, School, Work, Death’ include ‘If I Only Had Time’, every line of which was taken from British newspaper headlines of the time ; the psychedelic but vehemently anti-drugs ‘When Am I Coming Down’ and ‘Tell Me Why’ which finishes with Peter Coyne in a growled spoken monologue solemnly declaring against a background of doo-wopping fifties vocal harmonies and wildly staccatoing guitars his desperate love for a girl who is not interested in him. Despite a lot of radio airplay, especially on college radio in America, none of the three singles charted, and ‘Birth, School, Work, Death’ sold only modestly. The Godfathers’ frequent live shows were, however, becoming increasingly well attended. They were nominated too in the 1988 MTV Video Awards for ‘Best New Artist in a Video’ with the ‘Birth, School, Work, Death’ single and finished as runners-up to Guns ‘n’ Roses ‘Welcome to the Jungle’. While neither the album or the singles had done as well as either Epic or the band had hoped, it seemed, however, that mainstream success was still within The Godfathers grasp. Their third album, ‘More Songs about Love and Hate’, was released, after a year of hectic touring, in March 1989. It ran into trouble even before its release with its front cover, a print of actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, being removed and replaced for the American market with a blander, but less controversial photograph of the group. While slightly less well received by the critics, ‘More Songs about Love and Hate’ has stood the test of time better than ‘Birth, School, Work, Death’, having fewer now dated political references , and being broader in range and versatility. There were two singles of the album. The first ‘She Gives Me Love’ was a Yardbirds style rocker. The second, the strident and bluesy ‘I’m Lost Then I’m Found’, shows Epic’s increasing desperation with the group as they continued to fail to get a hit, being released as a live single and, in a final attempt to attract the record-buying public’s interest, having its CD version padded out with fashionable but unconvincing dancefloor remixes of ‘Birth, School, Work, Death’ and ‘She Gives Me Love’. ‘More Songs about Love and Hate’ also has on it the rockabilly ‘Walking Talking Johnny Cash Blues’ ; frantic , edged punk on ‘This is Your Life’ which ends with the same guitar note being thumped in rapid fire succession over seventy five times, and music hall varsity on ‘Life Has Passed Us By’, an up-date of The Kinks ‘Waterloo Sunset’ which has Terry and June, the young lovers of the original, twenty five years on a pair of hopeless and out-of-touch alcoholics. Both Coynes had held onto the Catholic faith of their boyhood, and opening up another layer to the bands’ character, ‘More Songs about Love and Hate’ also has two religious tracks. The first of these, the thundering ‘How Low is Low’ has a desperate and out-of-control Peter Coyne praying to both Jesus and Mary for both help and forgiveness, and the second, the devotional final song on the album, ‘Another You’, after the uncompromising aggression of many of the previous tracks, brings the record to a gentle and surprisingly delicate close. ‘More Songs about Love and Hate’, despite once more receiving regular airplay, again only sold modestly.The constant schedule of touring had also had its toll, and friction had developed between Kris Dollimore and the rest of the group, and Peter Coyne in particular. At the end of 1989 Dollimore left The Godfathers in what he has described in a ‘Q’ interview and appraisal of the band earlier this year as "bad blood’". He was replaced by Chris Burrows, who had previously been in ‘The Presidents of Explosion’, which had also included former Sid Presley Experience drummer, Kevin Murphy. Vic Maile had become ill with cancer, and died shortly after ‘More Songs about Love and Hate’ was completed. Maile, who the Coynes would describe on the ‘Birth, School, Work Death’, compilation as ‘’the sixth member of The Godfathers", had given the groupthorugh his production work much of their sound and edge. His death was a shocking and devastating blow to the group, and an "irreplaceable" and tragic loss, and one from which the Godfathers would never fully recover from.

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Godfathers - Songs about Love and Hate : An Intro

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