An Interview with
Godfrey Claff, the composer
of the Outer Limits' first single, When The Work Is Thru.
(Interviewed by Ray Chan)
1966 I was very involved with the Students' Union Rag and
was also entertainments secretary. By that time I had already
written a number of songs, a couple of which were later recorded
- one by a girl called Little Frankie and the other by The
Pirates (of Johnnie Kidd and the Pirates) - with some very
minor success, both getting into the lower end of the top
As part of the RAG (Raise and Give)
activities we decided to try and record a single and sell
it for RAG proceeds. The Outer Limits were a well-known Leeds
group who regularly appeared at the Union so we approached
them and they agreed to do the record for free.
The next problem was to find a song
that did not attract royalties. We wrote to Carter-Lewis (of
The Flower Pot Men fame), prolific songwriters of the time,
and asked them for something. They gave us a song which we
used for the B-side.
I decided to see if I could come up
with something useable for the A side. When
the Work Is Thru was written in about an
hour in a room in the University Union. The simple idea behind
the song was to reflect the condition of many men of the time
who had boring, repetitive jobs, not that well-paid. A guy
is thinking about going home at the end of another tedious
day and making love to the love of his life. The original
song was in a slow-beat, bluesy, soul style.
Myself and a friend from University
met the Limits in a church hall one evening for their first
rehearsal of the song. It did not go well. The song lacked
life and we could not see it working. My friend and I decided
to retire to the pub and leave the Limits to work on it. We
left the pub after about 45 minutes feeling pretty depressed
about getting the single done. As we approached the church
hall a really different up-beat sound came out with tight
vocal harmonies. Jeff Christie had completely re-arranged
it and it had worked.
I got free time from a London recording
studio and I got Mike Smith, who produced the Moody Blues,
to produce it; no special contacts - I just wrote and asked.
Unfortunately, on the day Mike was late and the studio wanted
us to get done and go as they had another recording session
coming in. So I was asked to produce it. In fact all I did
was to let the engineer twiddle the knobs and I just sat there
and said "Fine". Mike turned up towards the end,
said he thought it was OK and went to produce the B-side.
My influences in music were varied
but undoubtedly the main influence on my songwriting came
from my association through 1964-1967 with a Manchester band
called the Whirlwinds and a spin-off from them called the
Mockingbirds. I grew up with the members of those bands and
was road manager (unpaid!) for a few years. The Mockingbirds
became 10cc when another of my teenage friends, Lol Creme,
joined Graham Gouldman and Kevin Godley. During my time with
the Whirlwinds and the Mockingbirds, Graham was writing some
of his early material which had immediate success, producing
No 1s for the Yardbirds (three in fact), the Hollies and Herman's
Hermits. Being so close to Graham was the biggest influence
on my own writing at that time.
And that was the end of my song-writing
career. I left University and took up what was really my main
passion, youth work and later community development, which
is how I have spent my whole career, the last 10 years of
which were working in eastern europe. I retired a year ago
but am still active as a local councillor.