Arriving nearly a decade after the first rise of U.K. punk, London's the Godfathers were a band that shrewdly embraced punk's hard-edged sound and outlook while adding elements of hard rock, R&B, and pop. As a consequence, they gave their music a level of craft and polish that made them accessible without blunting the rage in their best work.
The Godfathers were formed in 1985 by lead singer Peter Coyne and his brother, bassist Chris Coyne. Both had previously been members of the Sid Presley Experience, and after that band's breakup, they were eager to start a new project. Teaming with guitarists Kris Dollimore and Mike Gibson and drummer George Mazur, the Godfathers wasted little time committing their music to vinyl, releasing a four-song EP, Capo di Tutti Capi, on their own Corporate Image label before 1985 was out. The Godfathers were prolific out of the gate, enough so that by 1986, they were able to assemble an album from their various EP and single releases, Hit by Hit. Between their solid recorded output and touring in the U.K., Europe, and United States, the Godfathers began attracting the attention of major labels, and Epic Records soon sealed a deal with the group.
In 1988, the Godfathers released their first Epic album, Birth, School, Work, Death, which was a commercial success and spawned two singles, the title track and "'Cause I Said So," that fared well on MTV and modern rock radio. ("Birth School Work Death" also cracked the Mainstream Rock chart, peaking at 38.) Released in 1989, More Songs About Love & Hate produced another hit, "She Gives Me Love," which rose to number eight on the Modern Rock chart. The title track from 1991's Unreal World was also a Modern Rock hit, topping out at six, but like More Songs About Love & Hate, the album didn't benefit much from the success of the single, and it was the Godfathers' last album for Epic. The group revived the Corporate Image label to release a live album, Dope, Rock 'n' Roll & F**king in the Streets, in 1992. Arriving in 1993, The Godfathers (known to fans as "The Orange Album" thanks to the citrus fruit that appeared on the cover) was released in Europe, where the band still had a strong following, and another European release, Afterlife, emerged in 1995. As interest in the band slowly faded, the Godfathers broke up in 2000.
The complete original lineup of the Godfathers returned in 2008 for a reunion tour, but in 2009 Kris Dollimore left, to be replaced by new guitarist Del Bartle. Drummer George Mazur bowed out not long after, with Grant Nicholas taking his place. The new lineup of the Godfathers cut a live album, Shot Live at the 100 Club, that was released in 2010 to celebrate the group's first 25 years. The band returned to the studio for the first time in 18 years to record 2013's Jukebox Fury, and in 2017 the band's latest lineup of lead vocalist Peter Coyne, guitarists Steve Crittal and Mauro Venegas, bassist Darren Birch, and drummer Tim James delivered a studio album of all new material, A Big Bad Beautiful Noise. ~ Mark Deming