Creme of the crop
Godley and Creme have directed videos for Frankie ‘n’ Duran. They also make good records, says Mike Gardiner.
Godley and Creme, arguably Britain’s top rock video directors are celebrating a 25 year partnership that started with the making of a film.
The pair, who have made videos for the Police, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Duran Duran, started with a borrowed eight millimetre camera from a neighbour and the notion of remaking ‘Dracula’.
“I needed someone to play a hunchback and Lol Creme was available,” says the shaggy faced Kevin Godley. Now after performing in hit bands like Hotlegs, 10cc and as a duo with hits like ‘Wedding Bells’, ‘Under Your Thumb’ and their current excellent release ‘Cry’, the pair are about to embark on a proper full-length feature film.
“We’re in pre-production now and hope to be turning over in July,” says Godley. “We’re planning for a Christmas release. It’ll have a strong musical content and Trevor Horn will be involved. We’re using the working title of ‘Just Like Eddie’—
In fact, Trevor Horn plays an important part in the pair’s new LP, titled ‘History Mix’. He’s produced a beat box/Art Of Noise styled musical jigsaw puzzle containing fragments of Godley And Creme’s previous work stretching back as far as their 1970 hit ‘Neanderthal Main’ (as Hotlegs).
“We first met Trevor in New York while we were editing the Police’s ‘Synchronicity’ concert video and we were just three English boys alone, so we go together. We ended up doing some experimental work in the Power Station recording studios.
“When it came to the album we dismissed the idea of celebrating our 25 years together with a greatest hits LP as that would be too boring—
“Between Trevor and Art Of Noise’s J J Jeczalik we were made aware of the new technology. We sampled pieces of our past work and threw them into a blender.”
Their involvement with Trevor Horn is the first time the pair have worked on a musical project with anyone outside of the 10cc group.
“Trevor brought us an overview that we never had. Obviously we know each other inside out but Trevor has a great ability to look at raw material and guide it a little.”
But even during their tenure with 10cc it was obvious that Godley And Creme’s songs were heading towards visual expression.
“Though we’re both different people our brains work in the same direction,” says Kevin Godley. “We’ve no real ego problems after all these years, so if one of us is in the wrong we’ll admit it and take a back seat for a while. Lol’s a lot more volatile on set whereas I’m calmer—
Their new video for ‘Cry’ is a great example of their ingenuity. The original idea was to get Torvill and Dean to create a dance for the ballad but they were in Australia.
So Godley And Creme created a montage of different people, shot in portrait, singing the song while their faces dissolve into the next person’s. As usual it is simplicity that makes the biggest effect.
The pair admit to having a ‘hit-list’ of people they’d like to give the Godley And Creme treatment to, including Springsteen, Eurythmics and Dylan.
“We look very carefully at the raw materials,” says Godley. “We don’t like to give them a situation they’d feel uncomfortable with. A lot of directors just place them within their own fantasy and if the performer feels a fool he won’t give his best.
“Recently we did Eric Clapton’s ‘Forever Man’ single. Now he’s a classic rock figure and purist, in a sense. His LP is exactly what people want him to do. So we tried to show him in a new light but retaining his more mystic overtones. We shot him in a ‘live’ situation but showing a profusion of cameras.
“With the Go West video for ‘We Close Our Eyes’ we had to marshall our energies. They were dressed in suits but somehow to us the lead singer Pete Cox looked more like a boxer in the Paul Newman/Marlon Brando mould so we made him dirty and sweaty and it worked.
“We knew that one would come together in the editing stage when we’d put the animation behind them whereas the video for ‘Every Breath You Take’ by the Police was storyboarded carefully. We even made a model to choreograph the Police’s ‘Wrapped Around Your Finger.’”
But which is their best achievement? Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rockit’? The Wrangler ads? Duran Duran’s ‘Girls On Film’?
“Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Two Tribes’ because that was a team effort,” says Godley. “It was the first time we’d ever worked so closely with a record company. The whole thing was designed and remixed for the videos. Also it had the political content that made it exciting with Richard Nixon, Reagan and Chernenko.
“A funny thing happened on the way to editing it. I was driving up the A3 when I passed a long black limousine with outriders coming in the opposite direction. It was President Reagan when he was over here. I smiled as I thought—