Ismism

Godley & Creme

Polydor Records, 1981

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godley_%26_Creme

REVIEW BY: Loznik

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/30/1998

Kevin Godley and Lol Creme may be best known for their time in 10cc, but it is after they branched out that their true colours began to show. Godley and Creme now do most of their work in the field of video, where their handiwork can clearly be seen in the originality of their approach. Their own brand of eclecticism and humour (often sour or satirical, tis true) also permeates their early musical output.

For those of you who have never heard this lyrically-driven album, an odd experience awaits you. Enjoyment of this album is often intellectual rather than visceral, but there are rhythms and beats running through the words that make for a good listen all the same. You can hear clearly the presence of someone's tongue pressed firmly into his cheek. Those of us who caught this album first time around probably only dip into it once a year at most, now, as the years are not kind to repeated listenings, but those first two dozen spins or so are worth the price of admission.

We kick off with "Snack Attack". The track contains an urgent, catchy beat created by a funky bass and counter-balanced with a pleasing drum backbeat. An "up yours" saxophone goes its own way throughout, and on top is an intimate, high-in-the-mix set of vocals. The lyrics are clever, the subject matter inane, but amusing.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Under Your Thumb" is a ghost story that received a fair bit of airplay (in the UK certainly) and is well presented. The haunting sound and lyrics sit strangely on top of a busy set of keys in the background, but the odd combination works. "Joey's Camel" is a slower reprise of "Snack Attack". The subject is an Egyptologist-type character and his misadventures, a highly amusing story.

"The Problem" follows, a rather hypnotic piece of music, with an almost droning quality to it. By carefully listening to the lyrics, a complicated and improbably constructed logic-problem question is revealed. Further listening shows the question to be utter nonsense, but the journey there is amusing. The track segues into "Ready For Ralph", which borrows the musical theme of the previous song. This song's significance entirely escapes me, leaving me free to enjoy the saxophone solo and choruses, untroubled by lyrical considerations.

Another track that received a good deal of airplay is "Wedding Bells". On the surface, this is a harmless piece of commercialism. The overall sound is sickly-sweet, but this belies the poignant underlying message of the lyrics - take this track at face value at your own peril. My abiding memory of this song is of the accompanying video, with the image of a wedding altar, a groom and a bride dressed in a wedding dress and chains. One for the boys perhaps.

"Lonnie" is an almost pointless pun on a Lee Harvey Oswald type character. I feel I must point out that Peter Gabriel did a different and rather better interpretation the year before with "Family Snapshot", off his eponymous third album. "Sale Of The Century" sounds like a schmaltzy, doo-wah sort of affair on first listening, but I actually find it diverting and quite amusing. It holds a fascination for me for which I cannot account, but like "Lonnie", it is one of the weaker tracks.

The final track on the album is entitled "The Party". This song is an absolute treasure and must be heard to be believed. Two or three listenings in, you are laughing too hard to hear the rest of the lyrics. The biting social satire lyrics have an entirely fitting musical accompaniment.

The album as a whole is not strong from a composition standpoint. Its chief appeal comes from its fruity, catchy rhythms, the occasionally peculiar sonic quality and of course, the hugely entertaining lyrics. Ismism is a niche album, created by pair of niche artists. It won't appeal to everyone.

Rating: B

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© 1998 Loznik and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Polydor Records, and is used for informational purposes only.