Long before the Red Hot Chili Peppers took the stage wearing only socks, The Godz were known to perform in nothing but underwear and sequined jockstraps. Regularly selling out the Agora, The Godz were Columbus’ biggest rock band in the ‘70s. Love them or hate them (and critics definitely hated them), the success of the Godz is something of an anomaly in Columbus music history, but they presaged ‘80’s hair metal and their influence still reverberates today in bands like American Dog. Often criticized for “not getting their own joke” (debatable), they were true believers in the rock and roll lifestyle.
Millennium - MNLP 8003
After The Capital Rockets split up following their sole 1973 album, bassist Eric Moore would eventually form The Godz with guitarist Mark Chatfield (Bob Seger, Cowtown Guitars) in 1975. If he’d learned anything from his stint with the Rockets, Moore appeared to be determined to take control of the band’s name, image, and likeness, so to speak. The Godz were a tough, hard-rocking biker band. Signed to a label distributed by Casablanca Records, at the peak of the disco era, The Godz stood out and stayed true to their rock and roll ethos.
The early days of the band were marked by tragedy with a roadie, original drummer Hayward Law and keyboardist Michael Adams all dying in car crashes within the first six months. Fellow Capital City Rocket Bob Hill called Moore to see if there was anything he could do to help and agreed to join the band. There was a dispute over the band name by the New York band which, according to Moore, ended after he suggested it be settled in the Casablanca parking lot. Moore fronted the band, but everyone wrote and sang. Eventually, their self-titled debut would be dedicated to Law and Adams, "brothers fallen - never forgotten."
Jimmy Ienner, the cofounder of Millennium Records, brought his brother Don (later president of Columbia Records and Sony Music) to see the Godz. They’d offer the band a record deal after the show. The band didn’t even have a demo - they’d never been in a recording studio. Produced by Grand Funk drummer Don Brewer, The Godz recorded their self-titled debut in the summer of 1977 at Grand Funk’s Flint Michigan studio, The Swamp. Released in 1978 on Casablanca imprint Millenium Records, the record garnered universally dismal reviews. Although the band were Grand Funk fans, and having a big name like Brewer produce was a coup, Brewer’s production career never took off. And although he wisely recorded it largely live, the record has a murky, swampy sound. Or, as one reviewer put it, it sounds “like it was recorded inside a fire hydrant.” I wouldn’t go that far, but suffice it to say Don Brewer is still known primarily for his drumming.
Kicking off with the chugging boogie of Go Away, stylistically they have more in common with ‘80s hair metal than with, say, tour mates Blue Oyster Cult, Angel, Judas Priest or any of their labelmates like KISS (with whom they never actually toured, contrary to every Godz piece ever written). Mark Chatman comes out blazing and plays a nice lead. Take a quick listen to Once Bitten Twice Shy and I think you’ll find a straight line to Great White with their feel and vibe, right down to the leather and biker imagery.
Baby I Love You has a bit of a throwback feel with the call and response chorus and the key changes in the refrain. Side one ends with their signature song, Gotta Keep A Runnin, complete with a mid-song dialog in the vein of KISS’ 100,000 Years. Is it goofy? Yes. Are they serious? Probably. But you know what? The older I get and the longer it’s been since this type of non-self-conscious rock was big, the more I appreciate it.
Side 2 opens with the Chatfield penned Under The Table, getting the tempo up with an arena-ready chorus and nice ascending riff at the end. Cross Country has a distinct Bad Company Movin’ On meat and potatoes rock feel musically and lyrically. Not many bands would cover Golden Earring’s Candy’s Going Bad. The eleven-minute album closer was recorded in one take, according to Chatfield. It kicks off with a chugging train and eventually drummer Glen Cataline goes off while the rest of the band gets psychedelic. Golden Earring is one of those bands that never quite made it as big in the states as they were overseas, and I think they’re underrated. Kudos for this cover.
The debut album sneaked onto the Billboard 200 LP chart for the week ending April 8, 1978, and spent five weeks, peaking at number 191. The Godz were unique - out of time, of their time and ahead of their time. They'd continue performing off and on until Eric Moore succumbed to cancer in 2019 at age 67. Drummer Glen Cataline also passed away at 67 just a few months prior to Moore. I never got to see The Godz live, but it must have been crazy. They were rock and roll machines.
A1 Go Away
Written-By – E. Moore
Written-By – E. Moore*
Written-By – G. Cataline*
Written-By – E. Moore*
Written-By – M. Chatfield*
Manufactured By – Casablanca Record And Filmworks, Inc.
Distributed By – Casablanca Record And Filmworks, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Millennium Record Co., Inc.
Copyright © – Millennium Record Co., Inc.