Few bands in the annals of rock & roll were stranger than the New York City-based Godz. Recording for the wonderfully idiosyncratic ESP-DISK label from the mid-'60s until the early '70s, the Godz coughed up some of the strangest, most dissonant, purposely incompetent rock noise ever produced. 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 honest-to-God beat performers like Allen Ginsberg, the Godz recorded the most extreme music while being secretive about themselves. As the late critic Lester Bangs noted in an essay in Creem in 1971, the Godz "...are a pure test of one of the supreme traditions of rock & roll: the process by which a musical band can evolve from beginnings of almost insulting illiteracy to wind up several albums later romping and stomping deft as champs."
Despite Bangs' essay, there are few, if any, detailed histories about this enigmatic band. What is known is that the Godz consisted of guitarist Jim McCarthy, bassist Larry Kessler, autoharpist Jay Dillon, and drummer Paul Thornton. McCarthy, the ostensible leader of the group, went solo in 1973, but the Godz were pretty much over by that point. As to what happened after they split, McCarthy became a photographer, Kessler is a record dealer, Thornton is an actor, and Dillon is living in the wilds of New Jersey. But none of that is as interesting as the three squalling bits of avant-garde noise/junk they recorded from 1966-1968. 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. The singing is intentionally off-key, almost parodic, and the songs...well, they sound more like improvised snippets than actual compositions. And while that may not be your idea of pop music, this works, in large part, due to the absolute glee and unself-consciousness with which they approached their peculiar brand of aural nonsense. You may not want to play this every day, but if your tastes run to the fringes of popular music, missing out on the Godz would be unforgivable.
In the late '70s, there was a Midwestern heavy metal band, also called the Godz, who made two albums for Casablanca. There is absolutely no relation between the two bands. In early 1999, the original Godz were resurrected and began recording a new album. ~ John Dougan