David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 151: The Godfathers (Love Is Dead)

June 5, 2022

The alternate version on the Greatest Hits collection. Don't we just love it? 

You buy ChangesBowie and you get "Fame '90 (Remix)." You covet Best Of New Order and you get "True Faith '94," "Bizarre Love Triangle -94," and the incredibly confusing "1963-94." You get the A&M version of Styx Greatest Hits and you are hit with "Lady '95." (Apparently, A&M couldn't secure the rights to the original "Lady," so the band re-recorded it. Strictly from a fan's perspective, though, while it's very romantic to accept "Lady" 22 years later, she is ironically a younger version, laser surgery clearly having been employed.)

I know why the record companies (and maybe the artists) do this: to try and lure in the obsessive fans who already have all of the hits and are unlikely to buy this Best-Of package unless there is something they have never heard before. At least Tom Petty stuck "Mary Jane's Last Dance," an amazing new song at the end of his Greatest Hits. Of course, that displays a lot of arrogance, assuming the new song will be a greatest hit (I am looking at you, INXS, with The Greatest Hits and "Deliver Me.")

This practice of putting alternate versions is most irritating to the fan who may only have a few favorite songs for a band, often the case, perhaps, with relatively obscure bands that eventually have a "Best Of" collection since they are hard-pressed to cite one or more hits. That is how I felt when I saw a Best Of The Godfathers. I owned one Godfathers' original album, the wonderfully named, Birth, School, Work, Death.  The record provided pretty standard edgy new wave, dancing around power-pop vibes, yet mostly delivering a kind of roots rock that was sorely needed in 1988 as Rick Astley, Bobby McFerrin, and George Michael dominated the airwaves.

While the album was overall pretty good, one song, the closer "Love Is Dead," was above and beyond my favorite on the album. Even on an album where the glitz was set aside for the riffs, "Love Is Dead" rocked. The chorus was so deceptively simple, you wondered why others hadn't thought of it: "She said [slight pause] love's dead." It was perfectly brief, making you at 2 minutes and forty-two seconds desperately wanting one more verse and chorus. It seemed perfect.

So, 20 years later when I see a chance to buy a Best Of versus the original Birth, School, Work, Death (assuming it was available on CD), I jump at it. Like others probably do, you hope the songs never heard might excite you enough to realize there is a deeper mine of gold. "Love Is Dead" is on there, plus 4 or 5 of the other songs from that album, along with other stuff that I might explore and enjoy.

When I finally got to my well-anticipated track, I could tell right away it was a slightly different version. The back of the CD gave me no warning, the liner notes didn't even offer an explanation. Why not put the original on the "best of?" I assume all of the other freaking 17 tracks were unaltered. Why change the one that I most wanted?

Over time, given that I have no other option, I have come to accept this alternate version. If the original "Love Is Dead" earned a 9/10, this Best Of version still rated an 8/10. The problem is that even now I no longer think I know for sure which was the original one. You can find three separate versions on YouTube, a single version where the song loses much of its edge, the rhythm guitar emerging more and the bass disappearing more, along with the god-forbid fade out because 5-10 extra seconds of final feedback is clearly too much for radio stations that weren't playing them anyway.

Between the other two, one seems to be the Best Of version, and a third called the "Valentine Day Massacre Mix" sounds most like I remember. It also clocks in at 2:42, which is what I remember of the original (song lengths because of my insane need to mixtape or burn CDs frequently stick in my mind). That is the only link I will provide below. I refuse to be party to this charade.

In the long run, though, 3 versions?  Really?  For a relatively obscure song buried in the canon of a relatively obscure band? They shouldn't have put out a Best Of collection, just a "Love Is Dead" EP, including all versions. It might have killed my love for the song a little less.

The Godfathers. "Love Is Dead." Birth, School, Work, Death. Epic. 1988. Link here.

Day 150: Belly. "Suffer The Fools."

Day 152: Sheryl Crow "A Change Would Do You Good."

Unfinished list here.