Godfathers “A Big Bad Beautiful Noise”

(-maximum bottle review by General Labor)

…Aw, man, it’s apparently, all been forgotten and photo-shopped, whitewashed and revised, now, to fit-in to various updated narratives of convenience, but in the actual push and struggle eighties of my wild, wild youth, our gang was an unlikely alliance of thrash metal dudes in army camo and Slayer shirts from abusive homes; a sweat-shorts wearing, redheaded, Red Hot Chili Peppers, white dude who liked Prince-he heroically intervened on my behalf, while five or six rednecks were beating me to a pulp, in front of the local teen night at the MTV era disco-he and I were like Robin Hood and Little John, for several years after that, and I rallied him to take up bass and join the band; exactly two mohawked hardcores-until one met a chick, went straight, and delved into real estate, or some shit, he vanished promptly after graduation; the other one was a deeply anti-social, talented painter, about ten years older-who lived in a rodent infested basement and made stained glass, we bonded over our common love of Alice Cooper and Johnny Thunders and I gradually lured him in to my longhaired rock-punk band, if only for a year or two; there were only three, or maybe four, death rock chicks, who this whole army of oddballs were all competing for; a Dead Or Alive “want surprises” gay disco kid who owned some cheap drum machines; A Cure bed-headed goth DJ from a nearby town; a mean hearted garage record collector kingpin from a different nearby town; a cologne wearing Duran Duran dude transitioning into INXS, who worked at the record store, in the mall; a bruiser motorcycle riding white trash hellion who had absurdly painted the Mountain Dew logo on the front of his guitar, who initially, served faithfully, as our bodyguard and roadie, he kept burning apartments down by cooking while drunk, and eventually, he became my primary riff-meister; five or six very progressive and open minded, oldschool hip-hop, O.G. rapper/DJ/breakdancer/beatboxing B-Boys from downtown; an aging Blue Cheer stoner who ran a hippie record shop in another nearby town; an extravagantly gorgeous and sensitive and generous and encouraging Smiths fan who broke my stupid heart, and her cousin-a marching band Billy Batson who was somehow (ahem) struck by punknroll lightning and miraculously transformed into a muscle car driving, “Oi Oi” shouting, skinhead Captain Marvel; a white mulleted, Randy Rhoads metal god who we lost to the military when he turned 18; his replacement-another skateboarding, nimble fingered guitar prodigy with a boyish Eddie Van Halen smile who all the girls loved, who also got drafted into my group; some other kind of stunted and awkward guys with real emotional problems we were kinda trying to protect and look out for-peripheral energy suckers, who ended up causing us trouble and creating divisions, later on; and me, in the glasses, whatever I was. Not much of a Scene. Some of my Catholic School “Animal House” beer drinking fratboys-in-training, and the rural town, hick mechanic, pizza delivery drivers, who worked with some of us, at fucking Little Ceasers, where that awful woman, Michelle, always made me change the urinal cakes, as soon as she saw me, in my much loathed hairnet and polyester.

Not much was happening, at all. That’s why I was desperately encouraging all my friends to take up instruments and create a communal space where we could freak, freely. There was nowhere to go, without being hassled by Journey fans in Trans-Ams. I was hated by most of my classmates and considered a disruption at my suburban football highschool. I had spiky, dyed black hair and wore two earrings, sometimes, a little eyeliner, which was, unbelievably, still a big deal, back then. The history teachers were also wrestling coaches, and I knew the bullshit they were shoveling into my peer-group’s heads was all capitalist nonsense about the value of competition and squashing the little guy, and transparently racist, winning is everything, “greed is good”, bullshit propaganda. I consistently challenged their outright falsehoods, and flag-worshipping, golf-shirted, macho-talk, in class, and was therefore, sometimes, well, okay, pretty frequently, made an example of, when I was abruptly jerked from my chair, and manhandled into the classroom closet, or dragged to the principal’s office for a paddling, which they still did, back then. These whistle-wearing, oafish, muscleheads actually encouraged the dumb jock rich kids to knock me down stairwells and elbow me in the face, that kind of stuff happened all the time. Not once, or twenty times, but regularly, for years, hundreds of often unprovoked altercations, seemingly, all because I had a big mouth, and would not wear Izod golf shirts. I’m still kind of pissed-off about all of it.

That awful morning dread, waiting for the school bus filled with hostile preppies, who all totally despised my makeup wearing guts-the bloody noses, repeated pummeling’s, being thrown into a lake, the routine daily humiliations, and the sick, sick adults and administrators who enabled and thoroughly validated the relentless boot-camp torture those suburban country-club rich kids constantly subjected me to. Imagine: “Ducky” from “Pretty In Pink”, but less cute and clever, and nowhere near as smoothly put-together. All I had was a library card that would allow me to escape into books about Houdini, or the Beatles, and Jim Morrison, and music. Sunday, our intimate ritual was to gather together in small groups of freaks and geeks, or just talk, on old-timey rotary land-lines while watching “120 Minutes” in our own little Smashed Hits and N.M.E. magazine pin-up wallpapered boxes. That show transported us culturally deprived, pained little punks and anti-authoritarian weirdos to far more glamorous and exciting, sensual, colorful, free and tolerant realms inhabited by liberating super heroes from misfit galaxies, older rebels, like Iggy and Bowie, who were succeeding in spite of their eccentricities, and that gave us so much courage and inspiration, in spite of all the abuse, and amputations. We could watch Robert Smith and Morrissey and Billy Idol and Dave Gahan and Martin Gore, with awe. They were magic, to me, to us, I know I was not alone, back then. The spirit of wonder and rebellion was still in the hearts and trousers and leather jackets and Epiphones of my former contemporaries…wild possibility was in the air, we saw crazy possibilities, all because of offbeat stars like Cyndi Lauper, Prince, and Richard Butler. Music had not yet been fully weaponized by the Henry Kissinger NWO powers that be. Real, original, outsider voices could still be heard. The Ramones, Bauhaus, Gene Loves Jezebel, Dead Kennedys, Lords Of The New Church. We sponged up all that stuff, from Rick James to Mojo Nixon. From Sisters Of Mercy to Dramarama. U2 had not even started sucking the devil’s dick, yet! I guess you could say, that my own Personal Pistols, were the Godfathers. As an angst-ridden, achingly frustrated and profoundly alienated, bubblegum breathed sixteen year old, with too much hairspray and clownish Bozo makeup, they had the punch and crunch and venom and vigor the wimpier synth-bands all lacked. I can actually HEAR that white-hot fucking solo from “Birth, School, Work, Death”, as I type this. “I’ve been high and I’ve been low and I don’t know where to go” said it ALL, to me. They wore suits, but they were not hypocrite juvenile court judges, or golf-playing school administrators. Peter Coyne, man, he got me. He got it, he understood. This was a role model I could believe in. The Godfathers expressed all the genuine rage and angst I was enduring. Fast forward…25, wait, is it thirty, oddball years or so, and all the same shit sucks even worse, NOW, than it did, in the bad old days. At least in the bad old days, I had my friends in black leather who claimed they felt the same way as me, about the injustice of the world, and we still had all that high-quality, authentic, imaginative, emotion packed GOOD MUSIC to listen to and be revitalized by, it fuelled us, gave us some bottle, gave us some hope, set a good example, “makes you wanna feel, makes ya wanna try, makes you wanna blow the stars from the sky”, as one mop-topped guitar band we loved sang, back then. Ya know?

The intro track of the brand new Godfathers platter is a fully charged, powerhouse spray of inspiring fireworks, reminding me of doing L.S.D. while listening to Love & Rockets, as a misunderstood runaway teen in the middle of a creative awakening-it’s got fuzzy vocals phoned down from the friendly neighborhood spider webs of Mars, blisteringly psychedelic black light poster guitars and smart, simple, streetwise lyrics from a determinedly proud, working class hero perspective. This is what know-nothing sucker NYU grads who write for “Spin” and “Rolling Stone” always pretend that this weeks Oasis spin-off bands are doing, but the Godfathers were the real godfathers of Brit-Pop. These pint-guzzling, graying, hard lads still effortlessly outrock all the smirking copycat Hot-Topic Americans with the white belts and show-biz uncles. The Godfathers bring generations of music history and poetic authority to their regal songs that have one Cuban Beatle boot in the grand Sixties pop tradition and a vomit stained brothel creeper in the post-punk era, with the Steve Jones aggressions and chiming, new wave romantic, noir film sound tracking, of their diverse and impactful song mastery. “Til My Heart Stops Beating” is a thing or majestic beauty like old Echo & The Bunnymen, or Leonard Cohen. Quite dashing and very soulful and uplifting. If radio people weren’t all so drunk on their own stench, those bragging, bought-off paychecks and rule obeying robots, this tune would be on Nirvana rotation, and we’d all be turning it up, as we tooled around in our ruined cars, driving aimlessly around the reservoir and the old Dairy Queen on a sunny spring day.

It’s such a life-affirming, courageously righteous hit song. It reminds me of my own foolish devotion to loved ones, lost loved ones, spontaneity, sunglasses, cruising around the town in ancient blue Oldsmobiles, and the indomitable power of genuine rocknroll. This Peter Coyne fellow abides and abides in his own truth and never sweats the bullshit and lies, like some of us weaker spirits. Trends and gadgets, products, and garbage come and go, and Peter is still standing strong. The hard won voice of bloody knuckled experience, still surprisingly vital and alive in middle age. I have said that Alex Mitchell from Circus Of Power is the only artist I can think of besides Morrissey who rocks significantly harder in his fifties, than he did in his twenties. I have to amend that, now, to also include the powerhouse modern-day Godfathers crew. Peter still has a pop heart, just like I do, but loves the slashing, thrashing adrenaline of the raunchy rocknroll dizzied pogo-pit. “You Don’t Love Me” is upbeat Smithereens, or Deadbeat Poets-style pop-genius that is as likely to appeal to fans of Paul Revere & The Raiders, or Badfinger, or Psychedelic Furs, or Birdland, or Manic Street Preachers-it is timeless, radio-ready, and custom made for accompanying sulking sad sack nostalgia yearnings, or boys are back in town, back porch beer guzzling. People of all ages can appreciate the Godfathers, because they ain’t fakin’ it, like so many others, like nearly all the rest. They still have The Power. I always wonder to myself is my long missing first loves and dwindling pack of former Adam & The Ant and the Alarm enthusiasts are still somewhere listening to any of the same songs I am, and then, I stalk summa them on social-media and see them talking about sports and acquisitions and quoting rightwing radio bigots, and buddying up to our hometown bullies. It kind of makes me question if I ever knew them at all. I know I am the same old reliable, last of the last of the last of the last, in the bulletbelt and mascara, still clinging to the old ideals and the old copy machine, D.I.Y. cassette and vinyl culture, pre cell-phones, pre Starbucks. Nothing’s changed, ultimately. No such thing as was. I’m still perceived as a bad influence and as a disruption and I still refuse to wear those Izod golf shirts.

“If you USED to be punk….!” Peter Coyne is still punk to the core-from his first cigarette, to his last dyin’ day, he is a bona fide rocknroll hero, like John Lennon or Johnny Rotten. He don’t fuck around with the partisan political dog and pony show, unreality tv stuff, he stands firmly with The People, all the time, every time, no questions asked. He’s a real king of the mountain Jetboy, through and through. I respect that so much. I guess that is why I am writing this. I want you to listen to his music, not only because I think you will find it entertaining, it has a good beat and you can dance to it, but because I am hoping it will catch a spark inside you and remind you of who you once said you were, and make you want to live up to that. At least, that is the effect it has on me. It makes me almost kind of want to care, again. Love is the answer and Peter Coyne knows that for sure. The pigs could not break him, the industry could not bend him, no one could kill his fire. Here he is, still writing sensational, surefire tunes about love and hate to accelerate my adolescent summer hijinks and escapades and I am fucking 47. “Poor Boy’s Son” is a proletariat protest song about the rigors of low wage drudgery and the pointless futility of being shamelessly exploited until you are sucked dry to enrich some selfish fat cat bastard who does not give a fuck whether you live or die. When your knees and lower back are ruined from warehouse labor, big-box merchandising, dish-dogging, or house painting, all the office-casual khaki wearers who never laid carpet, or carried shingles up ladders in the hot sun even one single day in their lives, will all still have the audacity to call you lazy, because you suck at math, or maybe weren’t as book-smart, or as good at taking tests, as they were. What a sham. Peter’s been on massive stages and on TV for decades, but he never abandoned his working class roots. He and his tight band-Tim James, Darren Birch, Steve Crittal, and Mauro Venegas, are still WORKERS. They are ALWAYS working. “One Good Reason” is the tune I would open up my radio-show with, tonight, if anybody would let a dangerous Dr. Johnny Fever malcontent like me, anywhere near a microphone. It’s melodic like Cheap Trick, but has a gritty Izzy Stradlin or Tom Petty, highway drivin’ through the cornfields ambience to it. Steve Crittall, Paul Robert Gray, and THE GODFATHERS did a fantastic job producing this record, because every song has an atmosphere all it’s own, but they all hang together perfectly as a collection. This is the right way to make records. “Miss America” is a dynamite social-commentary about the deadly daughters of blood-horny pervert, Uncle Sam, and all his tiny tyrant, figureheads, bribe-taking lawmakers, and petty enforcers with their small hands, long nightsticks, gigantic 4X4 white trucks and big bombs. All those rabid, soulless, blonde-haired millionaire harpies hired to spew Honky Death SpellTM propaganda for Fox “news”. He acknowledges the twisted, hypnotic, car-wreck allure of all those twerking, texting, gossiping, celebrity feuding, Botoxed coke whores of unreality tv we decline and fall Murkkans can’t take our screen-sore, tired eyes, off of. It’s kind of like a Stiv Bators song. Good stuff. Again, with the glorious guitar playing! Whoever that is playing the dreamy coda at the end of that tune, my compliments to you.

“Defibrillator” is a bit like hearing the Jesus & Mary Chain covering “White Light/White Heat”…it’s just remarkably excellent. If you like rocknroll music that has bruised but unbeaten soul, you gotta get this album, “A Big Bad Beautiful Noise”, it is, hands down, my album of the year! It is such a spectacular achievement when a die hard rocknroll hearted geezer like the esteemed and venerable Mister Coyne is able to successfully assemble a fully devoted, crackerjack team of worthy soldiers willing to be merry, for tonight we ride, and tomorrow is a good day to die, who fearlessly storm the barricades, unintimidated by vats of hot boiling oil, being spilt from above. They flawlessly segue from delicate, butterfly winged pop tunes like the La’s, to pounding, tough as nails, Stooges hardcore bluespunk. They make it look so easy, too. A couple of you know, that when I was seventeen and eighteen, I used to publish a dodgy fanzine in my own handwritten scrawl because I couldn’t type, full of collages of photos cadged from Penthouse and Kerrang! and Creem and Hit-Parader, and I frequently wrote about punk and glitter gangs like the Godfathers and Birmingham’s glorious polka dot shots, Gunfire Dance. So it was not much of a surprise to see my old compadre and pen-pal Darren Birch join forces with Coyne & cohorts. He had already played alongside Brian James, and I have long seen him as the son of Tregunna or Yaffa, so it was a natural fit. I am proud he never quit, he’s still at it, playing thundering, emotional rocknroll, even with the aches and pains of no longer being 21. I loved their old bands-Sid Presley Experience, Gunfire Dance, Black Bombers, all prior Godfathers lineups, but in my opinion, right now, they are IN THEIR PRIME. Honestly, these tough as leather old dudes are a ferocious force to be reckoned with. If I had a band, and they asked me to open up for them, I would have to say no. I may be poor, but I am not dumb. The Godfathers remain the flaming embodiment of still surviving, street fightin’ integrity and songwriting greatness from the authentic hard knocks ragged school of rocknroll coolness. A glutton for punishment, I do admittedly still dream about corralling some hoodlums of my own and putting together a discreet punk band, ya know, a humble, basement version of all my old heroes, to more properly document all the songs I’ve written over the years, even though everyone in this dumb world keeps screaming at me that, it’s too late. The Godfathers are a rock group that will always give you hope, and that will never let you down. They keep on showing us what is possible. THEY ARE DOING IT. Why can’t we do our own amateur hour version? We might as well, we’re gonna die, either way, why not die with our winklepickers on, like glam outlaws?

“She’s Mine” showcases Peter’s Ian McCulloch like croon, it’s like a lazy Sunday-ish deep track from some long lost Doors record, minus the carousel keyboards. It’s a beautiful, tender, summer of love song. Makes me wonder why so few can tap in to that divine, soulful, childish purity, anymore. ‘Makes you wanna take your sweetheart to the woods to look for deer and throw pebbles in the shimmering creek, and wear dandelion necklaces and drink cold Thunderbird from the bottle. “She’s mine ’til we’re both outta time”….I guess the thing I love best about The Godfathers, besides their enormous catalog of intensely listenable songs, is how Peter Coyne just IS. He don’t give a flying fuck about what the critics and posers and liars and heiresses and politicians and puppet show/showbiz kids say. He does not change who he is according to seasons, commercials, opinions, hoaxes, what the in-laws or the neighbors say, he is blissfully oblivious to big-media, and it’s empty promises, and multi-platform marketing campaigns. Like Jimi Hendrix, he just shrugs, “it ain’t me”. I don’t know how he acquired that iron man constitution and unshakeable conviction, but he knows who he is, who he loves, what he stands for, and he never strays from that. That is The Cool. He stands with the outcasts and underdogs, the downtrodden, and the dispossessed. He has guts, stamina, sincerity, a nonstop work ethic, and amazingly…a band of really talented, empathetic, like minded, virtuosos who tour relentlessly and somehow manage to look like immaculately dapper dandies under all the harsh lights amidst the slam dancing pits of sweaty, enthusiastic, beer spilling punters who still flock to their shows for cathartic and synergetic displays of primal, “Feedbackin'”. “Let’s Get Higher” is a life-long dropout’s brass-knuckled battle-cry, the kind of thing that Primal Scream would write, if they were only a bit more cerebral. Peter Coyne has a streak of sixties Sly Stone shaman, in him, he’s a gutter punk in a sharp suit, who never obeys orders or follows bandwagons, but he remains here….for you and me, too. “You & Me Against The World” is the name of the acid drenched, gospel tinged, album closer to a record you never want to end. It’s a real sapphire-another absolutely stunning masterpiece, reminiscent of Pink Floyd or Arthur Lee’s Love, it’s a dreamy, heartfelt tune that will steal your dirty hearts away. This is the sort of magical, quicksilver pageantry one can conjure if they ain’t afraid to die, have planets of soul power, and an ace band of dedicated rockers. I always loved the Godfathers, but this, their current, phoenix from the flames incarnation is undeniably as bold as love. When Peter Coyne sings, “it’s you and me against the world”, I understood he means his wife, and band, or brother, or others, but I also knew, immediately, he was talking to me. To Us. I & I. The rocknroll people. VIVE LE GODFATHERS. “A Big Bad Beautiful Noise” is an unparalleled monument to ageless and soulful, mean it, maaaan, rocknroll motherfuckery. Life is fleeting. Have no fear. Do your thing, now. Do it with mercy and grace. BE like the Godfathers.

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