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Contact High With The Godz

Artist: The Godz
The Godz - Contact High With The Godz CD
Label: ESP Disk
Regular Price: $10.95
On Sale For: $5.48 
Year: 2010
Format: CD


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In print in the U.S. for the first time since it came out 44 years ago (previous CD editions were produced under license by German and Italian companies), the legendary LP Contact High with the Godz is once again available for adventurous listeners who value creativity over conformity.

Coming from the same Lower East Side scene that had already delivered the Fugs to ESP-Disk, the Godz consisted of Jim McCarthy (guitar, vocals, flute, harmonica), Larry Kessler (bass, vocals, violin, guitar), Paul Thornton (drums, guitar, vocals), and Jay Dillon (autoharp, keyboards). When they went into the studio on September 18, 1966, there was no precedent for what they did. The weirdest and most far-out bands around at that time were the Monks and the Mothers of Invention. The first albums of the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, and the Grateful Dead all lay in the future.

That the Godz called the results of that day in the studio Contact High with the Godz might suggest psychedelia, but even that freewheeling style, still yet to blossom, would come nowhere near the freedom and sheer avant-gardeness of what The Godz did on their first LP. The Godz were not afraid to sound incompetent. Hell, they flaunted it. (In contrast, the Mothers of Invention proudly deployed instrumental virtuosity and leader Frank Zappa's deep study of the classical avant-garde.) There probably wasn't another record label on the planet besides ESP-Disk' that would have issued the Godz abrasive nine-song, 25-minute debut.

The indifference that met The Godz at the time would have left most bands in utter obscurity, but gradually an audience caught up with their creativity. Their cause was greatly helped when the late great Lester Bangs spewed his enthusiasm for them in a 1971 Creem article, "Do the Godz Speak Esperanto?" He was apparently the only music critic ready for their blast of innovation, but interest sparked by his championing has blossomed over more than four decades to the point where now the Godz are revered by a host of outsider musicians for having anticipated not only the wildest extremes of psych-rock, but also the then far-in-the-future DIY intensity of punk. As ESP owner Bernard Stollman puts it, they were the Sex Pistols of their time.

"White Cat Heat," the opening track, sets the stage by impersonating sex-crazed felines. This is clearly the work of musicians who ignore boundaries of public propriety and, for that matter, potential ridicule as they embody their subject. Their music is not the sweet incompetence of the Shaggs, trying to emulate their pop idols but failing so spastically that it's charming; the Godz were following nothing but nature and their wildest impulses. What makes it musically compelling is that within sufficiently unbridled and unbounded simplicity, there is a hidden complexity. What bewildered listeners first heard as bad drumming turns out, when listened to with an open mind, to contain primal polyrhythms. Later albums would find them moving closer to norms of technical adeptness, but the Godz spontaneously created their first album in a state of musical virginity, and the first time is always special and unreplaceable.

First album, released in 1966, by this NYC-based band. The Godz were part of the Lower East Side scene that produced post-beat avant-hippie rockers/performance artists the Fugs and the Holy Modal Rounders, as well as beat performers like Allen Ginsberg. Sounding like a prototype for Half Japanese or the Shaggs, the Godz play as if they discovered their instruments ten minutes before the tape started rolling.
Jay Dillon (autoharp)
Jim McCarthy (g, plastic fl, hca, vo)
Larry Kessler (bag, vln, vo)
Paul Thornton (d, g, maracas, vo)
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