Six Pieces marks the end of what Robert John Godfrey has called "the first phase in the life of The Enid". It almost marked the end of The Enid as everyone knew it. Francis Lickerish (the main man) and keyboard player Willie Gilmour left the band. Drummer Chris North and bassist Martin Russell exited some time afterwards. Godfrey and Stewart settled down in a Suffolk farmhouse to become proprietors of The Lodge Recording Studio, working largely in the indie pop field.
But The Enid proved to have a life of its own. Back in 1979 Pye had recorded The Enid playing live at the Hammersmith Odeon, intending to release the recording, along with a compilation of tracks from previous albums, as "Rhapsody in Rock". It was never released, but Tommy Vance had acquired the live material and in 1982 he played Fand, a twenty-minute piece originally recorded on Aerie Faerie Nonsense, on Radio One's Friday Rock Show. Vance was a fan. He said, on air, "Robert John Godfrey is to my mind one of the greatest composers this country has ever had..."
A NEW CHAPTER
Suddenly Godfrey and Stewart were inundated with requests for more. The following was still out there and growing. Godfrey and Stewart closed their studio and recorded what was to be their most successful album to date, Something Wicked This Way Comes. A 156-date British tour in 1983 confirmed it - The Enid, now essentially a duo, were back.
Something Wicked This Way Comes was a radical departure from previous Enid albums. For the first time, it featured vocals. It took as its theme the prospect of nuclear war - The Enid's first foray into contemporary politics. But so typical of Godfrey's approach, he avoided contributing to the arguments of justification and instead asked his audience the allegorical question: "If the holocaust comes will it be the burning fires of Hell here to punish us all for our wickedness or will be a the purifying fire of the last judgement sweeping everything clean and anew?"
It was also the first time The Enid had operated without the backing of a record label. The album came out on their own "Enid" label. A band which had, on the face of it, seemed the very antithesis of punk had now established its radical credentials indelibly. The most "indie" of the "indie bands", The Enid took direct control of all aspects of their career, from recording to mastering, artwork to distribution.
There was still a "long road back" for The Enid. Much of 1983 was spent fighting to re-acquire the rights to their deleted back catalogue. They released the 1979 live recordings as the two-volume "Live at Hammersmith" set, no less potent for being four years overdue, and re-released the two Pye albums on the Enid label. EMI, who owned BUK, proved more difficult.
The band spent the remainder of 1984 recording The Spell, their sixth studio album, and, due to the demands of the music, a double album playing at 45 rpm. The Spell, released in 1985, and the first Enid album to appear on CD, is a complex and quite entrancing, musical allegory based on seasons and cycles - the seasons of the year, the life and death of man, the life cycle of the cosmos. It was followed by a re-recorded, extended version of the mega-epic Fand.
1986 saw the bulk of the back catalogue reissued on CD, and the ushering in of what might be described as "the end of the beginning" for The Enid. It also saw the release of what looked to be the last Enid studio album. This was Salome, a startling musical interpretation of the John the Baptist story which managed in a single stroke, to offend both the feminists and the "God squad". The album was The Enid's most challenging to date; all dense rhythm and sexual angst. It lent itself brilliantly to radical live interpretation and was performed at the end of the year as a piece of contemporary dance/drama.
The Enid were beginning to outgrow their "rock band" roots and to become an increasingly diverse, umbrella entity for a range of projects. This was a mixed blessing, for while the duo's new-found freedom to explore different areas of work undoubtedly fuelled their creativity, it also led to the break-up, or perhaps drifting apart, of the band.
THE END OF A LONG PARTNERSHIP
By 1988 the changes of the last couple of years had worked right through the Enid organisation to their logical conclusion. As Godfrey says "We didn't want to become one of those tired old bands, treading the boards year after year simply for the sake of it." When the album which they had spent much of the previous year recording was released, it came out not as an Enid album, but under the name Godfrey and Stewart.
The album was The Seed and the Sower. It was based on the book of the same name by Laurens van der Post, which recounts his experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war (the film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence was based on the same book). Perhaps sensing that this was to be the end of an era, Godfrey and Stewart poured everything into this one, to deliver one of their finest ever recordings - over fifty minutes of power and passion.
Godfrey and Stewart took their final bow over two nights at the Dominion Theatre, London, at the end of the year. It was what the fans would have wanted; a ballsy show which packed in all the highlights from the band's twelve-year career. It even brought back Francis Lickerish. And it furnished one last Enid album, the triumphant Final Noise.