One for Friday: The Godfathers, “Birth, School, Work, Death (Live)”

godfathers

There’s an interesting choice on Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the live album released by the U.K. band the Godfathers, in 1989. To the best of my knowledge, this full-length wasn’t issued for sale in record stores, at least not in the United States. Instead, I believe it was a promo-only release, largely targeted at college radio, Epic Records’ means of keeping the band in the minds and hearts of fickle student programmers, many of them already coming down from the energized highs of the group’s debut release, Birth, School, Work, Death. That album’s title cut served as the perfect angry anthem, after all, for those existing smack dab in the middle of that dismal progression. The band’s sophomore outing, More Songs About Love and Hate, was probably a better overall record, but it was already becoming clear that enthusiasm for the Godfathers was waning.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre can be seen as a sort of booster shot, then. Give the college kids live versions of some of the songs they liked along with a couple cool covers. That oughta hold ’em, at least until there was time to ram the Godfathers back into the studio. Given that was the strategy, it was a requirement that the band’s biggest hit be present on the album. Sure enough, there was “Birth, School, Work, Death,” cozy as can be at the start of Side 2 (or “That Side,” as it was termed on the label). There was a little problem, though, cropping up around the 2:45 mark. Following the lyrics “I don’t need your sympathy/ There’s nothing in this world for me,” lead singer Peter Coyne snarls, “So fuck it!” At our radio station, that got a red dot slapped next to the song title, signaling to the on-air staff that the track was prohibited from the airwaves.

There were plenty of college radio stations back then who opted to disregard FCC guidelines when it came to what radiated from their transmitter towers. Superchunk’s “Slack Motherfucker” did make it onto the CMJ charts, and there was no conceivable radio edit of that song. There were also countless radio stations that complied just like us, certain that a FCC fine would trigger an end to the administration’s tolerance of raucous kids playing loud music on a corner of campus, taking up prime real estate. To the good kids, the label delivered an album that featured an unplayable version of the one song about which they were likely to be most excited. Good thing the FCC doesn’t have a say about what I play here.

Listen or download –> The Godfathers, “Birth, School, Work, Death (Live)”

(Disclaimer: The FCC might not get to weigh in on what gets posted here, but there are those pesky copyright laws. As I noted, I don’t believe this track was ever offered for sale, which should certainly make it fair game for sharing. Right this moment, I can’t even get a clear read as to whether or not any selection from the Godfathers’ discography is available for purchase from your favorite local, independently-owned record store. A lot of it can be bought digitally if you’re interested in giving money to major media company that will spend some of it on deviously skilled accountants who will use shifty numbers to convince the band that they deserve only pennies, if that, from the online commerce. Regardless of my feelings on this, and of the gradual eradication of the concept of fair use, I will gladly and promptly remove this audio file from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)

 

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