Godley & Creme were an English rock duo formed in Stockport in 1977 by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. The pair began releasing music as a duo after their departure from the rock band 10cc. In 1979, they directed their first music video with the single "An Englishman in New York". After this, they became involved in the production of videos for artists such as Ultravox, the Police, Yes, Duran Duran, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Wang Chung, as well as directing the ground-breaking video for their 1985 single "Cry". The duo split at the end of the 1980s. Both have since been involved in music videos, TV commercials, and sporadic music projects.
Kevin Godley and Lol Creme met in the late 1950s and for a brief time were in a band together. Through the 1960s they played in different bands, with Godley briefly in The Mockingbirds with Graham Gouldman, who would later work with Godley and Creme in 10cc.
After recording a one-off single under the name of 'Yellow Bellow Room Boom' for UK CBS in 1967 ("Seeing Things Green" b/w "Still Life"), the pair began their professional music career together in 1969, performing pop music in Strawberry Studios at Stockport near Manchester with Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman (often mistakenly referred to as being "Bubblegum Music", perhaps because they were contracted by Kasenetz & Katz, who produced bubblegum sub-teen pop in the US on the Buddah label). Their first chart success was as members of the short-lived Hotlegs, which evolved into 10cc in 1972. 10cc enjoyed chart success, most notably with their 1975 single "I'm Not in Love", a hit on both sides of the Atlantic.
After the recording of 10cc's fourth LP, How Dare You! (1976), Godley and Creme left the band to perfect a device they dubbed "The Gizmo" (Gizmotron), a module which attached to the bridge of an electric guitar. The Gizmo used small motor-driven rotating wheels which were pressed into contact with the strings, thus creating a continuous, violin-like "bowing" effect on all or any combination of strings, generating infinite sustain in voicings ranging from a single note to a full chord. The device was originally conceived as a cost-saving measure for 10cc. The group already owned and operated their own studio, and all four were talented singers and multi-instrumentalists who could also produce and engineer their own records, so their plan was that by using Gizmo-fitted electric guitars, with additional studio processing and overdubbing, they could create an almost infinite variety of sonic effects and orchestral textures "in-house", saving them the considerable expense of hiring session players to add these textures using traditional instruments.
After recording a demonstration single using the Gizmo, their label (Mercury Records) allowed them to continue the project, and over the next year it expanded into a sprawling 3-LP concept album Consequences (1977) with an environmental theme. It contained vocals by Sarah Vaughan and an extended comedy performance by Peter Cook, and was issued in a lavish boxed set package with an accompanying booklet. According to the album's liner notes, the duo's original plan was to hire an all-star cast of comedians (including Peter Ustinov) to perform the album's spoken-word components, but this was soon abandoned, partly due to the cost and logistical difficulty, but also because they quickly realised after meeting Peter Cook that he was able to perform all of the major roles himself. Unfortunately, by the time Consequences was finally released in late 1977, punk was in full swing, and the album was savaged by critics.
In a 1997 interview, Godley expressed regret that he and Creme had left 10cc, saying:
||We'd reached a certain crossroads with 10cc and already spent three weeks on the genesis of what turned out to be Consequences ... The stuff that we were coming up with didn't have any home, we couldn't import it into 10cc. And we were kind of constrained by 10cc live ... We felt like creative people who should give ourselves the opportunity to be as creative as possible and leaving seemed to be the right thing to do at that moment.
Unfortunately, the band wasn't democratic or smart enough at that time to allow us the freedom to go ahead and do this project and we were placed in the unfortunate position of having to leave to do it. Looking back, it was a very northern work ethic being applied to the group, all for one and one for all. If we'd been a little more free in our thinking with regard to our work practices, the band as a corporate and creative entity could have realised that it could have been useful rather than detrimental for two members to spend some time developing and then bring whatever they'd learned back to the corporate party. Unfortunately, that wasn't to be.
Creme also found the breakup painful, particularly as he and guitarist Eric Stewart are married to a pair of sisters, which made the decision more personal than professional
The duo gradually regained critical favour with a trio of innovative albums in the late 1970s and early 1980s – L (1978), Freeze Frame (1979) and Ismism (1981, released as Snack Attack in the United States).
Freeze Frame (1979) included several songs that gained airplay on alternative radio in many countries, notably "I Pity Inanimate Objects" and "An Englishman in New York", which was accompanied by an innovative music video. Several notable guest performers contributed to the album: Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera played guitar on and co-produced the album tracks "Random Brainwave" and "Clues", Paul McCartney contributed backing vocals to the song "Get Well Soon" and Roxy Music saxophonist Andy Mackay played saxophone on the single-only track "Wide Boy" and also appeared in the song's innovative promotional video. Alongside the album tracks released as singles, the duo also released two singles (both of which failed to chart) that contained tracks not included on the LP - "Wide Boy" b/w "I Pity Inanimate Objects" (March 1980) and the instrumental single "Submarine" b/w "Marciano" (September 1980).
They made the UK Top Ten with the singles "Under Your Thumb" (a song about the ghost of a suicidal woman who returns to haunt a rail commuter) (No. 3) and "Wedding Bells" (No. 7) in 1981, both from Ismism (1981). The single "Snack Attack" was also a minor hit. Their 1972 pre-10cc single "The Boys in Blue" (written by Godley, Creme, Gouldman and included in the album Strawberry Bubblegum: A Collection of Pre-10CC Strawberry Studio Recordings 1969–1972) was played at most Manchester City football club matches in the 1990s and is still occasionally played there.
In 1983, they released Birds of Prey which took their music in a more electronic direction, using electronic drum machines for the entire album.
Their 1984 single "Golden Boy" was included on 1985's The History Mix Volume 1 album which celebrated 25 years of recording together. The album, co-produced by J. J. Jeczalik of Art of Noise, remixed samples of their previous recordings to a disco beat. This album also contained the single "Cry" which, helped in part by the video, became their biggest US hit, reaching No. 16. The song reached No. 19 in the UK. A video cassette was also released with visual imagery to complement the music.
Godley & Creme released their final album, Goodbye Blue Sky, in 1988. This album abandoned electronic instruments and used harmonicas, organs, and guitars to tell the story of the earth on the brink of nuclear war. The pair ended their working relationship soon after the release of the album, In a 1997 interview, Creme explained:
||In '89, certainly in '88, maybe before, Kevin changed, I think his priorities in life changed. He'd had enough, he'd simply had enough of me and the way we worked, the things we did, the priorities we had. And the fact that we were a priority, for example. Our working relationship dominated our lives, you know. It was time for a shift in all that and he was obviously right.
Freeze Frame, Ismism and Birds of Prey were subsequently reissued on CD, with addition of bonus tracks that had previously only been available on singles:
- Freeze Frame... Plus included four 1980 tracks that were originally only released on singles: "Silent Running" (the B-side of "An Englishman in New York"), "Wide Boy", and the instrumentals "Submarine" and "Marciano".
- Ismism... Plus included the single B-sides "The Power Behind the Throne", "Babies" and "Strange Apparatus" (a shortened edit of "An Englishman in New York").
- Birds of Prey... Plus included the single tracks "Welcome to Breakfast Television", "Samson (Dance Mix)" and "Golden Boy".
Video direction career
Godley and Creme achieved their greatest success as the innovative directors of more than fifty music videos in the early 1980s. They created memorable videos for Status Quo ("Something 'bout You Baby I Like"), The Police ("Every Breath You Take", "Synchronicity II", "Wrapped Around Your Finger"), Culture Club ("Victims"), Duran Duran ("Girls on Film", "A View to a Kill"), Herbie Hancock ("Rockit"), Go West ("We Close Our Eyes"), Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush ("Don't Give Up"), Frankie Goes to Hollywood ("Two Tribes", "The Power of Love"), Sting ("If You Love Somebody Set Them Free", "Fields of Gold"), Toyah ("Thunder in the Mountains"), Visage ("Fade to Grey"), George Harrison ("When We Was Fab"), Lou Reed ("No Money Down"), Wang Chung ("Everybody Have Fun Tonight"), and Yes ("Leave It"), among many others, up to Godley's video for The Beatles' 1996 single, "Real Love", from the Beatles Anthology.
The pair's innovation extended to their videos for their own songs, notably "Wide Boy" and "Cry". The latter's 1985 video consisted of faces blending into one other using analog cross-fading, anticipating the digital effect of morphing, later used in a similar way in Michael Jackson's 1991 video, "Black or White". This has often been seen as "groundbreaking", though the promotional video accompanying King Crimson's single "Heartbeat" had used a similar effect three years earlier.
Creme joined the avant-garde synth-pop group Art of Noise in 1998. Godley continued to direct music videos. In 2006, he once again teamed up with Gouldman, as they released six new tracks under the name GG06.
"Cry" appears on an in-game radio station in Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto IV, released on 29 April 2008.
A cover of the song "Cry" appears on the album Relayted by Minneapolis indie band Gayngs. The video for the song is a remake of the "Cry" video and contained a cameo by Godley.
The discography of Godley & Creme contains seven studio albums, one of which Consequences (1977), is a triple album and another The History Mix Volume 1 (1985) is a hybrid album that is part studio, remix and compilation album. The duo have released four compilation albums, two of which contained material from their former band 10cc. 16 singles were also released by the partnership, though only five can be deemed commercially successful. Godley and Creme directed a large number of music videos, eight of which were for their group.