SPACECAKE chronicles the misadventures of a debauched and dangerous masochist as he tantrums his way through the sleazy worlds of Rock & Roll, music video and technology, each squalid escapade dragging him ever deeper into a repugnant maelstrom of sordid excess...well sort of. A wee bit. Actually...not remotely.
It’s all about the work really.
If you don’t recognize the name, Kevin Godley was a founder member of ground breaking UK band 10cc. (Their single, 'I'm Not In Love' continues to be one of the best selling records of all time). As one half of Godley & Creme he went on to pioneer the notion of music video as an art form and was responsible for iconic clips by artists such as Herbie Hancock, The Police, Duran Duran, Lou Reed & Frankie Goes to Hollywood etc, continuing to up his game in solo mode with U2, Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, The Beatles & Blur amongst others. KG thrives on re-inventing himself and SPACECAKE, his first book, takes you on an interactive tour of his life via pictures, music, film clips and 27 chapters of abstract insight into how everything from the first hits to WholeWorldBand, his music/video collaboration app, got made. It’s dark in some of the corners though...so make sure you bring a torch.
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Witty, clever, honest, funny and moving.
Very Kevin Godley...... Very wonderful!
We Need To Talk About Kevin (And Lol)
In its resolutely irresolute way, Kevin Godley’s semi-memoir conveys the opposing forces that meet in the creative battlefield of his brain - the random vs. the deliberate, the complex vs. the straightforward, the cynical vs. the optimistic, the modern vs. the timeless, the silly vs. the serious. Readers wanting, or even expecting, a blow-by-blowback account of the making of the (mostly) still amazing recordings he made with 10cc and Lol Creme will be disappointed to find that that area has been skimmed over - most likely due to the Swiss Cheese holes in his mind formed from the massive amount of dope consumed in the studio. What we get a lot of in ’Spacecake’ is various tales of the planning, making and editing of his videos for, amongst many, U2 and The Beatles (“Hey, someone’s got to help the little guys”), and Godley’s comic gifts come to the fore in dramatising the machinations of the penny-pinching producers and image-conscious managers and of egomaniacs running riot.
Godley is reminiscent of British founder of Pop Art Richard Hamilton in his attempts to marry cutting-edge technology with humanist concerns, and the desire to make the result timeless - a nigh impossibility, of course, when Pop demands that you must be either absolutely current or just ahead of the curve. Arguably, his greatest achievements in creating work that remains as fresh as when they were first released are the post-10cc trilogy of albums - ‘Consequences’, ‘L’ and ‘Freeze Frame’ - because, for the most part, they neither used the basic sound hardware of the time (synthesizers) or compromised their songwriting style. It is Godley & Creme’s next three electro-keyboard-centric albums - ‘Ismism’, ‘Birds Of Prey’ and ‘History Mix (Vol. 1)’ - that have dated most, with the duo sounding like the mad pot-head potting shed uncles of Soft Cell, Human League and Pet Shop Boys.
’Spacecake’ is a book full of surprises and delights (and displeasures, which I’ll get to soon enough). After years of dismissing ‘Consequences’ as ’shite, shite, shite’, he has - for the benefit of this book - listened to the album again and it has brought about a partial volte-face (he’s kinder to its failings). He tantalises and is semi-revelatory about his parents and his relationship to them, admits to relaxing by firing huge guns (a puzzling pastime for a vegetarian peacenik), is open about his dependence on smoking forests of ganja (and scarily funny in his relating of some Captain Paranoia meets Major Meltdown drug misadventures) and is thoroughly engaging in his anecdotage (moving into Keith Moon’s house, for instance, or the ultra-madness of the ‘Zoo TV’ project, for instance).
But ’Spacecake’, like life itself, has its flaws. It could have done with some tighter editing - Chapter 10, for example, begins with a dedication to Larry Williams (not the guitar-slinging R’n’B star of the 1950s who was a profound influence on Frank Zappa and remade himself as the 1970s funk star of ‘A Real Mother For Ya’ renown), then sidetracks for 33 pages on the making of the ‘Rocket’ video for Herbie Hancock and then video clips for The Police, before returning to the name of Larry Williams and saying he’ll be much missed but leaving the reader unwise as to who this chap was and why he meant so much to the author. This, however, is a minor quibble - just Godley in ramble mode. The major fault is the lack of proofreading. Because of this uncharacteristic oversight we get bizarre things like ’women’s curling tongues’ cropping up in the text. Worse than that, however, is the misspelling of names. Bernard Hermann’s surname omits an ‘r’, as indeed does Storm Thorgeson’s (sic) - one can almost hear Peter Cook asking, “Does Kevin have trouble with his Rs?” - but placing a 'grave accent' on Lol Creme’s surname, making it a ludicrously French ‘Crème’, is just unforgivable. You know and work and play with someone for over a quarter of a century and you can’t even get his name right? Blimey, man, what WERE you smoking?
Those complaints aside, ’Spacecake’ is definitely recommended, not least as a primer in the audio-visual artist’s struggle to make dreams manifest. It’s a dotty, spotty, captivating journal of an intrepid journey to the centre of a brilliant mind. Encore!
A splendid read full of astute and funny observations about the music and video biz.
Kevin takes you into the recording studio, on location and into the video editing suite, but most importantly into his mind.
He writes candidly about his and Lol Creame's break up with 10cc and with each other.