Godley & Creme
Frabjous Days: The Secret World of Godley and Creme 1967-1969
In 1967, a pair of art students left their alma mater in Stoke for the final time. Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, for it was they, had just graduated and now, as Godley tells Spin Cycle from his home in Ireland, their entire lives were about to change.
“I was really upset because we were driving away from Stoke on Trent, where I’d been for three years and had made some really good friends. We were in my little old MG Midget and Lol was driving first leg; we were driving down the M1, we stopped for petrol, then we carried on, down the M1 in the fast lane, it was pissing with rain, and suddenly the [hood] flew up on the car.
“It was out of the frying pan into the fire, from art school to death. We pulled over and we tied the hood down and we spent the rest of the journey sharing the driving duties, with the other leaning out of the soft top hand-operating the windscreen wipers. Finally we got to London, checked into a bed and breakfast and shared a bed for the first and last time in our lives. And that was our introduction to London, and the music biz proper”
Ah, the music biz. Neither Godley nor Creme was a stranger to that creature — Godley had been a member of the Mockingbirds, alongside songwriter Graham Gouldman, as they became a medium-sized fish in the enormous pond of Manchester mid-'60s pop; Creme had been in and out of a few bands over the years, and now the two had paired resources as a resourceful, if still-obscure duo.
Enter Giorgio Gomelsky, ther man who discovered the Stones, managed the Yardbirds, and was now scoring hits with his own Marmalade label. Alerted to the duo’s songs by Gouldman, whom he knew as one of the Yardbirds’ favorite hit-makers, it was Gomelsky who lured them to London for a series of sessions at Advision, with an eye towards releasing a full album by what, in a fit of Lewis Carroll-inspired genius, he had christened Frabjoy & The Runcible Spoon. They were, he added, set to become “England’s Simon & Garfunkel.”
In fact they weren’t. F&J certainly recorded more or less an album’s worth of material, but only one single (“I’m Beside Myself”/“Animal Song”) made it out before the label folded, with a third song, “To Fly Away,” appearing on a Marmalade label sampler. A couple of demos were accessible to stream via Kevin Godley’s e-autobiography a few years back. Otherwise, for the last 45 years, the rest of the package has remained tantalizingly unreleased. Until now.
No less than 19 tracks make up Frabjous Days, of which a dozen at least date from the time of the sessions (six more pick up other recordings the duo made during this same period; one more was recorded by Graham Gouldman, also for Marmalade), but not all date from the Advision sessions themselves.
Godley reflects on life in the studio. “We just went and sang and played, because we didn’t have a clue. Eddie Offord was the engineer and producer, and he was in charge of the sessions more so than Giorgio was. Some of the arrangements were written for the tracks by Tony Meehan, who used to be in the Shadows, so that was interesting, but I don’t really think we were confident enough to offer any audio suggestions. We just showed up with our songs and did what we were told.
“I just think they wanted to get the stuff down and recorded, but I’m wondering if some of the tracks on the CD are demos?
“Cowboys and Indians,” for example. “The only thing I remember in recording mode for that song was me and Lol being round at Graham’s parents house and doing a demo of it on his 2 track Revox. I can’t recall a proper recording session anywhere for that song.” And there’s two other numbers, ‘One and One Make Love’ and ‘Over and Above My Head,” that Godley recalls were written “around 1967, again no idea where we recorded those other than Graham’s Revox, so they could be demos as well.”
Gouldman himself was a key member of the Advision sessions and Godley has been reliably informed, though he doesn’t remember it himself, that the fourth and final member of what would become 10cc, Eric Stewart, was also involved.
“Graham doesn’t remember it, either, but other people do. And there weren’t that many sessions, but we were probably stoned… I remember distinctly, the first thing that struck us walking into Advision on that fateful first day were three things — there was a Mellotron in one corner of the studio; everybody seemed to be wearing afghan coats; and there was a huge cloud of weed smoke which we weren’t that familiar with when we walked in, but we were by the time we finished the session. ‘Welcome to London boys, can you find your way out or shall we call an ambulance?’”
Hardly surprisingly, then, “It’s a little mixed up, that period of time - it’s hazy, because we weren’t in charge; we were just there to play our songs, someone else arranged it, someone else recorded it and the mighty Giorgio was in charge. We didn’t have much of a say in anything; for the one and only time in our lives, we were the artists. Just the artists.”
It doesn’t show. Listening through the CD, in particular the two songs (“Today” and “Take Me Back”) which were subsequently rerecorded for the Hotlegs album, it’s clear who you are listening to primal, brilliant, pre-10cc. Godley, seemingly surprised to be told that, nevertheless reasons it out. “With all these things, I suppose what we did was instinctive and what came out came out, and they didn’t try to change us into anything else, not that I recall.”
The collapse of Marmalade was not the end of the duo’s ambitions. 1968 saw them cut a one-off single for CBS (there’s a terrific story about that in the CD booklet); and, by 1969, they were working alongside both Stewart and Gouldman as the house band at Strawberry Studios.
And the rest, as they say, would become history.