Pete Johnson’s Blast From My Past: The Godz – “The Godz”

One of the greatest traits about America has always been the regional musical differences born of living in these United States. This album is a perfect encapsulation of that phenomenon that reached fruition musically at this point (1978) and a little further past the mid 1980s. This is not the dissonant 1960’s NYC band the Godz. The Midwest Godz are different and are not for everyone. They are down and dirty rock and rollers. I think the summation of their career proved that point. They never achieved huge name recognition, though in a way, I always felt they should be a bit bigger than they ever became.

They really were very good at what they did. They provided the perfect soundtrack music for their environment. The seedy biker bars and small concert halls of the Midwest, especially around Ohio. A band cannot survive that environment without becoming somewhat of the musical equivalent of Navy Seal Team 6; you come into the area knowing the target you must hit, and then you hit them hard with force and precision. You do it long enough and hard enough to destroy the target and to get your own guys out alive. That is what the Godz did day in and day out for years and years. They have gotten no medals and they have gotten scant name recognition for their service in the Rock and Roll Army.

This album still sounds like a band that is at the beginning of the fight. They had achieved enough hours of combat that by the time they started recording this record that they jumped right in with guitars blazing. I think one of the great, great aspects of this record is its production. The producer is Don Brewer, the competent drummer/singer of the band Grand Funk Railroad. It is like Don took every lesson he learned from Todd Rundgren and applied it generously to the Godz; mostly that every song needs to rock and have more cow-bell.

The album opens well with the catchy “Go Away”, which just good hard rock served piping hot and fresh. The album then continues with gem after gem of hard rock ditties like “Baby I Love You” (which apparently one can never say enough) and “Guaranteed”. The lyrics are unimportant and important at the same time. The Godz record is filled with every rock cliché there is. The difference here with the Godz is they sound like it is the gospel truth and that they really mean it. One can quibble and go back and forth about the songs and debate their worth, like a prog rock Genesis and Yes fan would, but that would be missing the point and lesson of the double dose of real rock and roll attitude this album exudes.

The highlight for me on this album is the track “Gotta Keep A Runnin’”. This track, in my opinion, is the biker bar band version of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It is long, has many parts and dynamics and has a mesmerizing vocal and drive that serves the tune. The totality of it leaves you wrung out and thinking about what you just experienced. The lyrics still speak to me and inform the way I choose to view life. Here it is:

Can’t see enough I can’t feel enough

I can’t do enough in one day

I’m gonna use it baby I’m gonna lose it baby

I don’t care what you say

I’m gonna burn right up like a two dollar pistol

rocket shot through the sun

I’m alive and I’m a jriving I’m a passing you by

I can’t stop for anyone

I gotta live my life, can’t stop for you

Gotta keep a runnin’ gotta keep a runnin’

It’s as good a life philosophy as anything Plato, Socrates, or Popeye ever came up with. The other highlight for me on this record is the cover of Dutch band Golden Earring’s “Candy’s Going Bad”, which to me is the aural equivalent of ending the night shift in an Ohio metal factory. “Under the Table” also deserves an honorable mention as a rock and roll ode to where we all end up at one time or another in life. Great harmony and lead guitars on that one! All in all, I am pretty sure you do not own this record. If you even pretend to pay lip service to being a rock and roller then you need to go out and buy this record today. I guarantee it will sound just as good on a summer’s night now as it ever did before. The you can thank me later… ;o)

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