[Review] Godley & Creme: Freeze Frame (1979)

The usual assortment of strange apparatus and stranger ideas from 10cc’s two strangest personalities.

Kronomyth 3.0: Godley and Creme’s spotty third album.

As much as the quirky music of 10cc prepares you for Godley and Creme, the pair suffers from a commercial blind spot that’s baffling or frustrating by turns. They’re capable of writing brilliant snippets of art pop, sampled throughout the record, but insist on subverting their pop sensibilities to wild experimentation. “Random Brainwaves” (one of several tracks featuring guitarist Phil Manzanera), “I Pity Inanimate Objects” and “Get Well Soon” (with Paul McCartney of all people on backing vocals) scratch at the door of greatness, but when the door’s opened they run in the other direction like puerile pranksters.

Even with all this, Freeze Frame is more commercial than their first two records and set the stage for the far superior Ismism (a.k.a. Snack Attack). The exotic arrangements are built by treating (or torturing) traditional sounds: vocals are stretched like taffy, guitars are shrouded in effects and all manner of odd percussion is tossed into the salad. Compounding the confusion are inscrutable lyrics and strange narratives; “Brazilia (Wish You Were Here)” might be about the effects of greenhouse gases or nuclear destruction, “Freeze Frame” appears to be about a person suffering from some phobia, but pinning any of this down is near impossible. For that reason, “Mugshots” is one of the few tracks that doesn’t escape recollection; it’s pretty catchy and has a storyline you can actually follow.

Given the daunting nature of their limited catalog, Freeze Frame is one of the better Godley and Creme records, but it’s still a hard one to warm up to, even after repeated plays. On a different note, the nonverbal credits on the picture sleeve are appreciably clever.

Original LP Version

A1. An Englishman In New York (5:33)
A2. Random Brainwaves (2:37)
A3. I Pity Inanimate Objects (5:21)
A4. Freeze Frame (4:45)
B1. Clues (5:22)
B2. Brazilia (Wish You Were Here) (6:06)
B3. Mugshots (3:53)
B4. Get Well Soon (4:35)

All titles written and arranged by Godley & Creme.

Japanese CD reissue bonus tracks
9. Silent Running
10. Wide Boy
11. Submarine
12. Marciano

The Players

Lol Creme (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, keyboards, hand claps, marimba. Xylophone, harmonica, percussion), Kevin Godley (vocals, drums, percussion, hand claps, electronics) with Phil Manzanera (guitars), Paul McCartney (backing vocals on B4), Rico Rodriguez (horns on A1). Produced by Godley & Creme except A1/B2 produced by Godley & Creme & Manzanera.

The Plastic

Released on elpee on November 30, 1979 in the UK (Polydor, POLD 5027), the US (Polydor, PD-16257) and Australia and the Netherlands (Polydor, 2442 166) with lyrics innersleeve.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the UK (Polydor, SPELP-30).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 1987 in the US (Polydor, 831 555).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in 1991 in Japan (Polydor, POCP-2078).
  4. Re-packaged with L on compact disc on November 21, 2000 in the US (One Way, 549 275).
  5. Re-released on 24-bit remastered, expanded compact disc on June 28, 2006 in Japan (Polydor, UICY-93084) with 4 bonus tracks.
  6. Re-released on super high material compact disc on June 23, 2010 in Japan (Polydor, UICY-94541) with 4 bonus tracks.

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