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Album Review

The Godfathers missed the British punk revolution by a decade and were a few years too early before loud guitars became fashionable in England again. Consequently, the group's 1988 LP Birth, School, Work, Death is often overlooked. Released during the U.K. rave craze of the late ‘80s, Birth, School, Work, Death must've seemed completely dated in the barrage of pulsating electronic sounds that enveloped Britain at the time. Wearing Mafia suits and skinny ties, the Godfathers had a mean look that matched their name. And their sound was similarly tough: brass-knuckled punches in the form of menacing, explosive riffs; venom-spewing, nihilistic vocals; body-slamming percussion. Yet the Godfathers never forget the importance of the hook. The bleak title track — with its gloomy shouted chorus of "Birth, School, Work, Death" — has head-bobbing basslines and a toe-tapping drum beat. "I cut myself but I don't bleed/'Cause I don't get what I need/And it doesn't matter what I say/Tomorrow's still another day," Peter Coyne spits, the bile in his voice bringing back memories of Johnny Rotten's snotty rage in the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" as well Roger Daltrey's adolescent anguish in the Who's "My Generation". "Birth, School, Work, Death" is followed by two other rockers, "If I Only Had Time" and "Tell Me Why", that are equally catchy and filled with ticked-off confessions such as "If I only had time/I'd think of the perfect crime." But the Godfathers are from being one-dimensional. "Just Like You" is an upbeat love song and on "When Am I Coming Down" guitarist Kris Dollimore helps illustrate an acid trip gone wrong with swirling, disorienting guitars that recall Jimi Hendrix' moments of sonic transcendence. Coyne's spoken-word bit in "When Am I Coming Down" is chilling, told from the point-of-view of someone who has just overdosed on drugs. The production by Vic Maile is clean yet it doesn't soften the Godfathers' two-fisted attack.

Biography

Formed: 1985 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Godfathers were founded by brothers Peter and Chris Coyne in London in 1985. Vocalist Peter and bassist Chris were joined by guitarists Kris Dollimore and Mike Gibson and drummer George Mazur. Coming ten years after Britain's punk explosion, they nevertheless built on that music's rage and force. Their debut album, Hit by Hit, was released in the U.S. on the indie label Link in 1986 and followed by Birth, School, Work, Death on Epic in 1988, which made the Top 100 bestsellers as the title song...
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