Gogmagog
I Will Be There


1.5
very poor

Review

by Pedro B. USER (332 Reviews)
December 15th, 2020 | 10 replies


Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist

Review Summary: One of the most laughably transparent attempts to cash in on a trend the hard'n'heavy world has ever witnessed, and a rightful embarrassment to all involved.

So-called 'supergroups' are, by their very definition, volatile. What starts out as a more or less organic meeting of creative minds often finds itself mired in the participants' individual egos, or even simply hampered by their main careers, resulting in an often frustratingly short lifespan. So much so, in fact, that fans of supergroup-type ensembles have come to know better than to expect life beyond a single album; when this does happen, such as with Audioslave or Velvet Revolver, it is seen as more of a pleasant bonus than the natural order of things.

Even within a realm with this low of a bar to clear, however, certain supergroups are notorious for having a particularly short lifespan – and in this regard, it is hard to argue against Gogmagog as the poster child for volatile projects. With their life cycle comprising a scant few weeks, their portfolio spanning a grand total of three songs, and their total recorded output clocking in at under twelve minutes, this mythically-named British supergroup appears to provide an apt and glaring example of everything that can go wrong with a setup of this type.

And yet, the failure of this project was not the musicians' fault – at least not entirely. In truth, the members of Gogmagog never really planned to work together, the whole project being the artificially manufactured brainchild of notorious British music impresario and hack producer Jonathan King – a man as famous for discovering and christening Genesis, whose first album he also produced, as he is for writing some of the worst novelty songs in music history and somehow getting them to chart in real, actual music billboards. The Gogmagog concept was his declared attempt to break into the hard rock and heavy metal market, which, at the time of the 'band's' conception, was experiencing its second big big boom.

To this end, King gathered a handful of (former) worthies from the NWHOBM movement, came up with a suitably cinematic concept to frame their work around (complete with a flashy, theatrics-heavy stage show), and talked KISS hitmaker Russ Ballard into donating one of his songs for the newly assembled group to perform. The project had all the trappings to be a success, if not for one, small, nearly insignificant factor – namely, that King knew next to nothing about the genre or its associated movement. The result is one of the most laughably transparent attempts to cash in on a trend the hard'n'heavy world has ever witnessed, and a rightful embarrassment to all involved, even to this day.

And yet, it did not have to be that way. In truth, the way Gogmagog's first and only EP is presented actually shows a glimmer of promise, and hints at a potentially worthy final result. The song titles are, admittedly, a mouthful - each being about three times as long as they would have to be for a DJ or VJ to rattle off their title during their morning show - but the cover artwork definitely has the right idea, being more akin to a movie poster than an album sleeve, with the performers billed at the top (as principal players usually are in film and theatre) and the inlay even offering up an attempt at a plot synopsis of sorts. When coupled with the actual talent assembled to perform the material within, this provides an undoubtedly solid base from which to flesh out a fairly interesting project. The problem, then, is that at no point does any of the three songs contained on this offering so much as attempt to run with the presented narrative; to add insult to injury, each constitutes nothing more than an inane, fluffy, lightweight slab of mid-80s radio-metal, complete with the sort of fake-crowd-insert chicanery KISS were abusing in their own output at the time.

The overall result is every bit as embarrassing for the average fan to take in as it must no doubt have been for the all-star musician cast to record. Indeed, assembling the likes of Paul Di'Anno, Janick Gers, Pete Willis, Neil Murray and Clive Burr (some of the most famous and technically skilled heavy rock interpreters of their generation) and straitjacketing them with assembly-line material like the one presented here is more than a criminal waste of their collective talent – it is borderline insulting to their credibility. Fortunately for King, each of the five musicians was cash-strapped enough that they saw the project as an easy gig; however, the mercenary nature of their involvement may also go a long way towards explaining why nobody – with the possible exception of Janick Gers, who serves up all the best purely musical moments on the EP – is taking the material even the slightest bit seriously. Even Ballard could not be bothered to contribute more than a single, previously released (and fairly mediocre) track. After all, when the producer and creative director himself – the very man who pulled the strings to bring the project to life - cannot be bothered enough to check how a musician's name is spelled before printing the sleeve, why should anyone else put in any effort?

To be honest, the most surprising element about the five-piece's performance across these twelve minutes of music is the fact that King never cottoned on to how little his hired talent cared. The musicians' blasé attitude towards the material seeps through every second of each of the three songs presented here, reaching its zenith on the gloriously devil-may-care final track (the cumbersomely-titled It's Illegal, It's Immoral, It's Unhealthy, But It's Fun) where everyone stops even pretending to care about the inane drivel they are being forced to perform and chooses instead to go nuts with it - resulting in four minutes of glorious, nose-thumbing, so-bad-it's-good hijinks. Paul Di'Anno, in particular, appears (for once) to be having an absolute blast, putting on a funny voice to roleplay a stuffy moral guardian during the verses, then gleefully snarling the chorus back at himself in his best cockney-accented punk sneer. Unfortunately, the fun is quickly dampened by the horrendously repetitive song structure; by the fortieth repetition of the single-sentence, repeat-the-song-title-style chorus, the listener's patience is tested to such an extent that all the goodwill accrued by the musicians' openly jokey performance is gone, exposing the song for what it is - a third-rate KISS pastiche fronted by a second-rate Johnny Rotten impersonator, and complete with fake-live samples so bad they would make the WWE SmackDown sound design team blush.

Sadly, this is just the cherry on top of the glam-metal trainwreck that is Gogmagog's first and only EP. Not only do the two preceding songs fare no better than It's Illegal..., the enforced seriousness of the performance strips them of even the fun factor that song managed to drum up. The title track - the only one penned by Ballard - is particularly bad in this regard, juxtaposing Hair Metal For Dummies instrumentation with a cringeworthy performance from Paul Di'Anno, who strains his famously limited range to the point of secondhand embarrassment. The end result ends up sounding not unlike the efforts of a particularly try-hard karaoke enthusiast put to tape – a perception in no way helped by the song's overtly simplistic backing track and total lack of any sort of solo. With that said, Di'Anno's register does help add a dark, somewhat sinister twist to the song's equally uninspired lyricism towards the end - though one suspects that may just as well have been an accident, as opposed to a deliberate and conscious choice on the part of the singer.

Follow up In A F*cking Time Warp (...why not simply Time Warp...?) fares a little better, sounding the most like a 'real' song out of the three cuts contained here - but then, only by virtue of ripping off Judas Priest's vastly superior Living After Midnight. Well, that and the efforts of Janick (or Jannic...) Gers, who makes the most of his only opportunity to showcase his ability by letting loose with a loopy, Zappa-meets-Maiden solo halfway trough. Even still, the song sounds not so much like the product of five first-rate instrumentalists at the top of the game as like the kind of featureless, generic rock-by-numbers track a no-name AOR group might record for use as a backing track in a 1980s road-trip montage; never once are anyone but Gers' capabilities challenged even in the slighest, and one cannot help but feel Di'Anno's droning lament of 'boring...so f*cking boring...' may well be somewhat genuine.

In the end, then, it is not hard to see why the hasty three-hour session which yielded these tracks ended up being Gogmagog's only legacy. The concept itself, while not bad, is woefully misused, and the performers, while fantastic in their own right, are saddled with the sort of mind-numbing, Baby's First Heavy Metal Album material which shows just how highly King regarded the demographic he was attempting to fleece. The end result sounds like the sort of second-rate parody of a parody a band like Steel Panther would be too proud to produce, and was rightfully panned by every respectable recording label to come within ten feet of it at the time, resulting in the permanent shelving of the project. Thirty-five years later, this EP has gained a second wind as fodder for the post-millennial, ironically-minded so-bad-it's-good crowd - and, to that extent, it is somewhat effective. Under no circumstances, however, should it ever be approached as a serious piece of music, or even a worthy addition to the portfolio of any of the deservedly well-regarded performers involved. After all, they never took it seriously – so why should the listener?

Recommended Tracks
In A F*cking Time Warp



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user ratings (9)
2.8
good
other reviews of this album
Number666 (3.5)
So obscure yet so awesome......



Comments:Add a Comment 
ReturnToRock
December 15th 2020


4083 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

First fully negative review since coming back, y'all. Not gonna lie, a bit of the old snarky RtR surfaced at points while writing this, and I had to redact myself in a few places to keep the tone professional.

Also, I initially planned to rate this at a 2-2.5, for 'so bad it's good' appeal and a certain catchiness factor, but that is literally all it has going for it. As a piece of music, it's passable to terrible, depending on the song.

JustJoe.
December 15th 2020


10208 Comments


i would 1.5 this on band name alone

TheMoonchild
December 15th 2020


1276 Comments


Yeah this is a pretty fucking lame record but "It's Illegal, It's Immoral..." is a total guilty pleasure of mine. Otherwise the title track sounds like a Def Lep song too shotty to make the record. I'm also not convinced that's Pete Willis on bass, its way too simple and lame sounding.

ReturnToRock
December 15th 2020


4083 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I thought Neil Murray was on bass, Willis on rhythm guitar...I could be wrong though.

And yeah, that song is a guilty pleasure if only for the fun Paul is obviously having - I hadn't seen a deliberate mucking-up of a song this glorious since Johnny Rotten's butchering of Roadrunner.

Kompys2000
December 16th 2020


5087 Comments


I always love reading about forgotten oddities like this. Shame it's not more enjoyable musically, but it's an interesting bit of trivia nonetheless

Great review btw, have a pos

rockarollacola
December 20th 2020


522 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'll admit this is extremely generic, but I can't find anything on here that is truly abhorrent.

ReturnToRock
December 21st 2020


4083 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

@rockarollacola I had this at a 2-2.5 at first as well, but knowing the context just makes it that extra bit worse.

RunOfTheMill
December 21st 2020


4148 Comments


> but I can't find anything on here that is truly abhorrent.

After hearing "living in a time warp" repeated for the 50th time, I told myself I never needed to listen to that song ever again. Pretty abhorrent if you ask me :]

RunOfTheMill
December 21st 2020


4148 Comments


Great review by the way!
I really like how you managed to avoid saying Iron Maiden anywhere in the review, the comparison is too easy and doesn't quite grasp how bad this is on its own lack-of-merits

ReturnToRock
December 22nd 2020


4083 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

@Run I don't really hear Maiden anywhere in the record, though I do mention them once when talking about the solo in 'Time Warp'.



Also speaking of 'Time Warp', THAT's the most egregious thing on here to you? In a record where Paul Di'Anno doing karaoke to a bad Russ Ballard song exists? AND the most repetitive chorus? In a record where 'It's Illegal...' exists?



Again, though, knowing this was nothing but a fake gimmick band all along makes it that much worse. Without the context, it's just below-average, dull, insultingly dumbed-down hard'n'heavy that squanders everyone's talent.



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