A Big Bad Beautiful Noise - The Godfathers (Godfathers Recordings)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a record by the re-constituted Godfathers rocks like a motherfucker. There’s plenty of YouTube evidence of recent gigs in packed Pommy pubs to show as much - as you can see for yourself, above.
The real ear-opener comes when you slip an advance copy of the new disc into the player and hear how fresh and true to the sound of the original band that they manage to be.
The Godfathers were built around brothers Peter and Chris Coyne (vocals and bass respectively) when they formed in 1986 and, for a time, they did bigger business in the USA than at home in the UK, where their brand of hard-riffing rhythm ’n’ rock-blues was distinctly on the nose.
Excuse the rant here but “rockist” was the disdainful term the music papers used to toss around back then - and who could really blame them? You’d rather listen to flakey synth shit like A Flock Of Sausages instead of three loud chords and an engine room that swings, wouldn’t you? Talk about fashion over feeling. The English music press always seemed to be full of loathsome pricks…
The dice stayed loaded that way until the rise of Britpop, most of which paled in comparison to what was going down in Northern Europe and Down Under. Of course, most of what went under the tag “grunge” lowered the bar to the point that any old shit would do. Against that background, if the likes of “Birth, School, Work, Death”, “More Songs About Love and Hate” and “Hit by Hit” albums failed to get you through the night, you were probably clinically dead. Speaking of which, the Godfathers ground to a halt at the end of the ‘90s/start of the ‘00s, but have reformed a couple of times since, each time with differing line-ups.
Thirty years on, Peter Coyne is the sole remaining Godfather and wears the suit well on this album. You’ll twig to that after 30 seconds: The title track is an opening statement of intent that comes careering out of the gates on the back of Darren Birch’s dirty, rumbling bass line and a flurry of strafing guitars that dive in and out of the mix. And it doesn’t go downhill from there.
You get 11 tracks of alternately melodic, always urgent rock and squawl. Steve Crittall and Muro Venegas do the business on guitar. “Till My Heart Stops Beating” was the lead-off single and pumps with a sweet hook. The tribal “Poor Boy’s Son” might be a tad obvious but clicks regardless as its sniping guitar lines wrap themselves around a jungle chorus.
There are reflective moments (notably, mid-tempo pop-rocker “Miss America” and the downcast “One Good Reason”) but they’re surrounded by sinewy rifferama like “Feedbacking” and the “Rock ’n’ Roll Animal” Lou-on-steroids crunch of “Defibrillator”.
Even when the tempos are pulled back, Crittall and Venegas put enough meat on the bones (“She’s Mine”) to give you something to chew on. Coyne's vocal is full of character and power. Notwithstanding that, if you think this is an album largely built on big, fat guitars you’d be right.
It's not flawless; "You And Me Against The World" hovers close to stadium rock territory. On the other hand, “Feedbacking” is just big, dumb fun with Stoogey, one-finger piano providing counterpoint to scorched earth fretwork, and “Let’s Get Higher” is a Dionysian toast to recreational reefer set to a big backbeat.
That it all manages to sound fresh is as much a tribute to Coyne as the players he's surrounded himself with.
Out February 10, 2017