10cc

 10cc

 Eric Stewart – circa 1980

“It’s just a silly phase I’m going through” – ’I’m Not In Love’ (Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart)

“We put the tape loops around this Studer Stereo Machine [a Studer tape recorder or tape machine] and then out to mike stands with little rollers on the top that they would run through and we could tension them there in the machine properly.  Then I fed them across to the sixteen track [recording] machine.”  These are the words of Eric Stewart of British rock band 10cc.  The virtually incomprehensible process he is describing is part of how, in 1975, 10cc managed to record the song ‘I’m Not In Love’, a song Stewart co-writes and sings.  It is one of the most technically complex pop music recordings up to that date and is probably the quartet’s best known song.  The recording studio is a home away from home for 10cc.

Eric Michael Stewart is born 20 January 1945 in Droylsden, Greater Manchester, England.  “After playing with local Manchester bands, I eventually joined a group called Wayne Fontana And The Mindbenders,” recalls Eric Stewart, “and that lasted for about four years.”  The group is formed in 1963.  With Wayne Fontana at the helm, they have a hit in 1965 called ‘The Game Of Love’ (UK no. 2, US no. 1).  Eric Stewart continues, “Then Wayne split away [in late 1965] and we carried on as The Mindbenders and had more success, bigger success, and that went on for, I suppose, another four years.”  In 1966 The Mindbenders do well on the charts with ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ (UK no. 2, US no. 1), with Eric Stewart on lead vocals.  The Mindbenders line-up is Eric Stewart (vocals, guitar), Graham Foote (guitar), Jimmy O’Neil (keyboards), Bob Lang (bass) and Ric Rothwell / Paul Cox (drums).  In March 1968 Bob Lang is replaced on bass by Graham Gouldman.  The Mindbenders dissolve on 20 November 1968.

Graham Keith Gouldman is born 10 May 1946 in Broughton, Salford, England.  “My family comes from Russia and Poland,” Graham explains.  “They fled because of their Jewish identity [and the anti-Semitism associated with the Nazis during World War Two].  I grew up in Broughton Park in the northern part of Manchester.”  He continues, “I’m an only child…My Dad [Hymie] worked in clothing wholesale during the day, but he was really a writer.  He wrote plays, stories and articles and he was a massive part in me becoming a songwriter…My mother was very encouraging.  She used to act in the plays my father wrote as an amateur playwright…My parents also made music.”

Graham Gouldman meets the other two future members of 10cc [aside from Eric Stewart] when they are all school boys.  “Lol Creme and Kevin Godley, who have the same [Jewish] background [as me], grew up in Prestwich.  There was a rather big Jewish community in the north [of England].”  Kevin Godley goes to the same secondary school as Gouldman, North Cestrian Grammar School in Altringham.  All three boys – Gouldman, Godley and Creme – play music together at the local Jewish Lads Brigade.  “Kevin [Godley] seemed Bohemian: a bit of a beatnik, yet very down to earth,” Gouldman recalls.  “Lol was upbeat and enthusiastic.”

In 1963 Graham Gouldman begins playing in local bands.  He passes through the ranks of The High Spots, The Crevattes, The Planets and The Whirlwinds.  The last-named act is the most professional of the four.  In June 1964 The Whirlwinds release a single, a cover of 1950s U.S. rock star Buddy Holly’s ‘Look At Me’.  The B side of the single is ‘Baby, Not Like You’, a song written by Gouldman’s old acquaintance, Lol Creme.  In late 1964 The Whirlwinds break up.  In February 1965 Graham Gouldman joins a new band, The Mockingbirds.  Kevin Godley is said to have played drums with them but it would seem Godley changed his allegiance because it is also reported that Gouldman’s Mockingbirds had a friendly rivalry with another Manchester band, The Sabres, which includes both Godley and Creme.  By March 1968 Graham Gouldman has moved to join Eric Stewart in The Mindbenders until that band comes to an end in November 1968.

Although Graham Gouldman is a musician in bands in the Manchester area during the 1960s, he has a parallel career as a songwriter.  “I was just a writer in the early 1960s,” he says.  “I wrote songs for The Hollies, The Yardbirds and Herman’s Hermits.”  Gouldman admits, “My Dad used to help me with lyrics.”  Some of Graham Gouldman’s best known compositions recorded by other acts are: ‘For Your Love’ by The Yardbirds (February 1965); ‘Heart Full Of Love’ by The Yardbirds (June 1965); ‘Bus Stop’ by The Hollies (June 1966); and ‘No Milk Today’ by Herman’s Hermits (October 1966).  ‘Bus Stop’ is the one about which Gouldman feels most proud.

Graham Gouldman records a solo album for RCA, ‘The Graham Gouldman Thing’ (1968).  After The Mindbenders split in 1968, Graham Gouldman goes to the U.S.A.  He works as a professional songwriter at the Kasenetz-Katz organisation.  While there, Gouldman meets U.S. pop star Neil Sedaka, who is also a songwriter.

Laurence Neil ‘Lol’ Creme is born 19 September 1947 in Prestwich, Lancashire, England.  The same locale is the birthplace for Kevin Michael Godley, born 7 October 1945.  ‘Lol’ is a common abbreviation for ‘Laurence’ in the Manchester area.  “My Dad had a music instrument shop,” says Kevin Godley – which helps explain his interest in music.  He is soon tapping along to hits by 1950s U.S. rock star Elvis Presley.  While attending North Cestrian Grammar School, Kevin Godley forms his first band, Group 17.  The members are all boys Godley met through the Jewish Lads Brigade, the same social organisation through which he meets both Lol Creme and Graham Gouldman.  Godley and Creme attend art school together (the Royal College of Art in Birmingham) as well as playing in local bands like The Sabres.  The duo study art and design, graduating in 1968.

In 1969 Graham Gouldman marries a girl named Susan.  They have two children, Sarah and Louis.  Gouldman’s three fellow future members of 10cc also spend the 1970s as married men.  Eric Stewart marries a girl named Gloria and they have a son and a daughter.  Lol Creme’s wife, Angie, is the sister of Eric Stewart’s wife, Gloria.  Lol and Angie have a son named Lalo.  Kevin Godley weds a girl named Susan – which is the same name as Graham Gouldman’s wife, but a different person.

In early 1969 Kevin Godley and Lol Creme record a single under the name of Frabjoy & The Runcible Spoon.  This is ‘I’m Beside Myself’ and it is released on the short-lived Marmalade label owned by Georgio Gomelsky (ex-manager of The Yardbirds and owner of the Crawdaddy Club, the venue that helped bring 1960s British rock giants The Rolling Stones to fame).  The song is recorded at Strawberry Studios in Stockport, Cheshire, a recording studio owned by Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman.  Stewart and Gouldman both play on ‘I’m Beside Myself’.  Stewart set up Strawberry Studios after The Mindbenders split.  “If Strawberry hadn’t existed, I doubt whether 10cc would have come together,” observes Graham Gouldman.

In 1970 the quartet of Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldman, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme are still working together experimenting with the possibilities at Strawberry Studios.  Gouldman says, “We were travelling around somewhere and Lol had started chanting this thing, ‘I’m a Neanderthal man’.”  Graham Gouldman exempts himself at first, so the trio of Stewart, Godley and Creme (who share the songwriting credit) work up ‘Neanderthal Man’ in the studio.  A goofy chant over thumping drums, ‘Neanderthal Man’ (UK no. 2, US no. 22) is released in 1970 becoming a surprise hit.  The trio take the name Hotlegs on the record label when it is issued by Fontana.  On the strength of the single’s success, Hotlegs issues an album, “Thinks: School Stinks’ (1970), and tours the U.K. as a support act to the more famous Moody Blues.  Graham Gouldman returns from a visit to the U.S. during this tour and joins Hotlegs on stage.

Graham Gouldman’s contact with Neil Sedaka results in the U.S. pop star recording two albums at Strawberry Studios – ‘Solitaire’ (1972) and ‘The Tra La Days Are Over’ (1973) – on which Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldman, Lol Creme and Kevin Godley all work.

A demo recording is sent to entrepreneur Jonathan King and it wins a recording contract with King’s newly created label, U.K.  Jonathan King also comes up with a new name for his signing: 10cc.  The name comes to King in a dream.  Kevin Godley says the “popular explanation [for the name], whether it’s the source of the dream or not, is that 10cc is supposedly the average male ejaculation.”  Graham Gouldman clarifies this further: “[Jonathan King’s] story was that he had a dream.  He saw a sign outside the Hammersmith Odeon that said,’10cc: The best band in the world.’  And then the other thing came in [about the metric total of semen ejaculated by the average male], which was quicker to explain.  And that’s become the popular version.”  “We paid the price [for the change of name] years later when we were touring America,” notes Godley.  Putting on a hyperbolic announcer’s voice, Godley mockingly imitates, “Ladies and gentlemen…Eye-Ock!”  It seems 10cc is sometimes mistaken for IOCC.

10cc is founded in 1972 with the line-up of: Eric Stewart (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Lol Creme (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Graham Gouldman (vocals, bass) and Kevin Godley (drums, vocals).

10cc is described as an art rock band – but this is not really accurate.  Most British art rock bands of the 1970s have pretensions to using elements of classical music and poetic allusions in their songs.  10cc are not so grandiose.  Glam rock is popular at the time but, aside from Eric Stewart’s fondness for power chords on the guitar, this is not a big influence on 10cc either.  They certainly avoid the glitter and make-up that goes with glam.  It is a bit broad, but 10cc are probably more correctly seen simply as a rock band or a pop group.  “It’s not prog, it’s not art rock – it’s 10cc music,” suggest Graham Gouldman.  “We were pop, albeit an extreme version, that’s because we had four pretty odd minds,” offers Lol Creme.  Kevin Godley adds, “We had The Noise, not The Look.”

Eric Stewart betrays some envy of Pink Floyd – another early 1970s quartet of British recording studio experimentalists – because they had the mystique and clout to be concentrating on albums and virtually ignoring singles.  “We did a lot of hit singles but we had to struggle to get the albums up the charts, especially in America…We never got a no. 1 album.”  However it is an earlier British quartet than Pink Floyd whom Stewart sees as their inspiration: “We were very Beatles-influenced.”  Britain’s biggest pop group of the 1960s were, like 10cc, fond of experimenting with the sonic possibilities of the recording studio.  “We took the mantle of The Beatles,” claims Stewart.  “We experimented on every song – you’ll never hear two that sound alike.”

The songwriting in 10cc is usually divided into two teams: Eric Stewart works with Graham Gouldman while Lol Creme works with Kevin Godley.  “And there was a healthy competition between the two factions,” claims Godley.  It’s tempting to see Stewart and Gouldman as more commercial and Godley and Creme as more experimental.  However, Godley and Creme came up through the same era of local Manchester bands as Stewart and Gouldman, and Stewart was the key figure in the birth of Strawberry Studios.  Even between Stewart and Gouldman there are differences.  Gouldman’s assessment is that, “Eric was more into rock ‘n’ roll and I was more into people like Burt Bacharach [a composer of sophisticated adult pop].”  Collectively, 10cc are fond of satirical, smart aleck stances in their songs.  “For us, the words are always as important as the music.  We were after that perfect chemistry of lyric and melody,” Graham Gouldman claims.  “I don’t think we are conscientiously cynical, but we do like to write about things that nobody else has written about,” says Gouldman.  “It’s quite easy to write a ‘downer’ song,” says Eric Stewart of more glum and serious writers.  “We find it’s quite easy to write about a serious subject and put it over in a humorous way.”  Taking in Stewart’s view, Gouldman simplifies it: “It’s like a cartoon.”

10cc’s first single, ‘Donna’ (UK no. 2, AUS no. 53), is released in 1972.  This is the song that, in demo form, impressed Jonathan King enough to give the group a recording contract.  This song, a ‘clever parody of U.S. hits of the late 1950s’, is written by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.  Lol contributes the eye-watering high falsetto lead vocal.  “Whoa Donna, you make me stand up / You make me sit down, Donna,” runs the intentionally dumb lyrics, reaching a sort of peak with “Donna, I stand on my head for you.”

10cc first appear on British television show ‘Top of the Pops’ in September 1972.  While glam rock acts in feather boas and glittery jumpsuits are all the rage, 10cc are just ‘four men in jeans and denim shirts.’  “It was our first performance on TV and we just turned up in our everyday clothes,” says Graham Gouldman, illustrating their lack of allegiance to any perceived rock music style.

July 1973 brings ‘Rubber Bullets’ (UK no. 1, US no. 73, AUS no. 3).  This is another 1950s pastiche, a loving recreation of the past.  In this case, it seems to be a rather warped reincarnation of Elvis Presley’s 1957 hit ‘Jailhouse Rock’.  Musically, there is little resemblance, but thematically they are close.  “I went to a party at the local county jail,” pipes Lol Creme.  The festivities lead the authorities to “Load up, load up, the rubber bullets” to fire at the inmates and non-lethally quell the disturbance.  As though in a musical, Graham Gouldman’s deep basso voice gleefully intones, “I love to hear those convicts squeal / It’s a shame these slugs ain’t real.”  Eric Stewart says, “The BBC banned it [the song] because they thought it was about [the troubles in] Northern Ireland…It was about…like the Attica State Prison riot [a violent outbreak at Attica Prison in New York on 9 September 1971].”  ‘Rubber Bullets’ is written by the trio of Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and Graham Gouldman.

The debut album, ‘10cc’ (1973) (UK no. 36), is released in July on U.K. Records.  Like almost all their albums, this disc lists 10cc as the producers for the recording sessions.  Both ‘Donna’ and ‘Rubber Bullets’ are on this album.  Also present is the band’s next single, ‘The Dean And I’ (UK no. 10, AUS no. 61).  This is more 1950s-influenced pop, but with a larger serve of originality.  “Hey kids, let me tell you how I met your Mom,” calls Lol Creme.  “We were dancing and romancing at the senior prom / It was no infatuation but a gradual graduation / From a boy to a man, let me tell you while I can.” He declares, “But in the eyes of the Dean his daughter / Wasn’t doin’ what she shoulda oughtta.”  ‘The Dean And I’ is written by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.  Perhaps the best offering from the team of Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman on this album may be the bullish ‘Ships Don’t Just Disappear In The Night (Do They?)’.  This debut album attracts ‘sudden and considerable critical acclaim.’

10cc play their first live gig at Douglas on the Isle of Man in August 1973.  This performance introduces Paul Burgess, a second drummer.  Although he does not officially join the band at this time, Paul Burgess augments the group on tour from 1973 to 1976.

‘Sheet Music’ (1974) (UK no. 9, US no. 81) is released in May.  The second album by 10cc continues the group’s progress.  They tour the United States twice in 1974 and on one of these trips find inspiration for this album’s first single.  Eric Stewart explains: “We were crossing [the financial centre] Wall Street in New York in a stretch limousine celebrating we’d got in the charts with ‘Rubber Bullets’…Lol [Creme] said, ‘Wall Street!  The Wall Street shuffle!’ and I said, ‘Do the Wall Street shuffle.’”  Although Lol Creme helps inspire the track, it is Graham Gouldman who shares the songwriting credit with Stewart for this song.  Over a fat guitar riff, Stewart works through financial witticisms like, “You need a yen to make a mark if you wanna make money” in ‘Wall Street Shuffle’ (UK no. 10, US no. 103).  ‘Silly Love’ (UK no. 24) is co-written by Stewart and Creme.  The guitars are overblown to the point of distortion as Stewart’s narrator observes others trying to write love songs and concludes, “Take a little time / Make up your own rhyme / Don’t rely on mine / ‘Cos it’s silly.”

Early in 1975 10cc change record companies, signing with Mercury Records.  It’s a good deal for Mercury because, in March, 10cc deliver their all-time best album.  With typical tongue-in-cheek vim, it is title ‘The Original Soundtrack’ (1975) (UK no. 3, US no. 15) – although, of course, it is not the soundtrack to any movie.  The first single is ‘Life Is A Minestrone’ (UK no. 7, US no. 104, AUS no. 48), a Kevin Godley and Lol Creme composition.  Eric Stewart says the song comes from a partially-heard radio announcement in the car.  Lol: “Did that guy say life is a minestrone?”  A romping example of 10cc being ever so clever, this song advises, “Life is a minestrone / Served up with parmesan cheese / Death is a cold lasagne suspended in deep freeze / Love is a fire of flaming brandy upon a crepe suzette / Let’s get this romance cooking, honey, but let us not forget…”  Godley and Creme are also the authors of ‘Une Nuit A Paris’ (One Night In Paris), a little rock opera (running time 8:41) that is a compendium of French clichés.  The four members of 10cc play various characters in the tale of a newcomer to France who winds up being arrested for murder.  It’s even broken into three movements: ‘One Night In Paris’, ‘The Same Night In Paris’ and ‘Later The Same Night In Paris’.  “I was a stripper on the Champs Elysee / He was a gendarme in the gendarmerie,” coos Lol Creme, stuck with the female role.  “He was a pimp in a black beret / But he was an artiste in his own way.”  As if this was not ambitious enough, there is also the group composition, ‘The Second Sitting For The Last Supper’, a thundering piece that dares flirt with Biblical inspiration.  This album shows the breadth in the songwriting talent and recording studio mastery inherent in 10cc.  And it’s second single is their best song, ‘I’m Not In Love’.

‘Recognised as a pop classic’, 10cc ‘peaks creatively’ with ‘I’m Not In Love’ (UK no. 1, US no. 2, AUS no. 3).  The song is written by Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman and sung by Stewart.  “The idea for [‘I’m Not In Love’] comes around from my wife [Gloria] saying to me, ‘Why don’t you say you love me more often?’” explains Stewart.  “’Well, if I keep saying it, it’s going to lose credibility.’…I thought, ‘I am in love.  How do I get this across in another way?’…Once I had this idea to say, ‘I’m Not In Love’, I could give all the reasons why I was still totally in love with this person.”  Kevin Godley suggests, “It’s a subtext song.  You know you can actually say, ‘I’m not in love’…but you can feel the lie in his eyes.”  With this clever inversion, Stewart says, “We’d recorded a very simple backing track…with me on [Fender Rhodes] electric piano, a little rhythm guitar and Kevin playing a bass drum on a Moog synthesiser.”  But this is only half the story because what makes ‘I’m Not In Love’ special is the treatment that follows.  “Kevin Godley came up with the idea, ‘Why don’t we just use voices for everything?’” says Eric Stewart.  Godley suggests it will “probably sound like a piece of s***, but we’ll give it a go anyway.”  “It was Lol who came up with the idea of making tape loops,” acknowledges Eric Stewart.  Graham Gouldman adds, “So we went into the studio, the three of us [Gouldman, Godley and Creme] and went, ‘Aaahh’.”  Godley says, “Then we multi-tracked this same note.  It’s like this heroic, angelic sound of heaven.”  Eric Stewart says, “I think eventually [through multi-tracking] there were two hundred and fifty-six voices on these tracks…Because it was a chromatic scale, there was this lovely hissy kind of breathy sound like when you walk in a concert hall and people are just talking very quietly.  Just wonderful hiss…aah!”  There are other nice little touches.  The “Big boys don’t cry” female voice on the song is Kathy Redfern, the secretary at Strawberry Studios.  The sort of fracturing in the backing sound towards the end is achieved by adding the sound of a music box.  In the finished product, releases as a single in May 1975, Eric Stewart intones, “I’m not in love / So don’t forget it / It’s just a silly phase I’m going through.”  ‘I’m Not In Love’ is extremely successful in commercial terms too.  “It’s financially very good for us,” says Eric Stewart, but Kevin Godley laughingly contradicts him: “It broke my f***in’ heart ‘cos I didn’t write it [and so didn’t get any of its songwriting royalties]!”

‘How Dare You?’ (1976) (UK no. 5, US no. 47), 10cc’s fourth album, is released in January.  Defying expectations, the first single, ‘Art For Art’s Sake’ (UK no. 5, US no. 83, AUS no. 61), is not a mellow ballad in the mode of ‘I’m Not In Love’; it’s a full-blooded rocker.  Despite being written by Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman – the same team who wrote the previous year’s big hit – this track is built on Stewart’s tight riff, with some interesting woodblock percussion for counterpoint.  Stewart reveals that the song’s origin is a phrase Gouldman’s father, Hymie, said to them: “He used to say, ‘Boys, art for art’s sake, money for God’s sake, okay?’”  Minus the ‘boys’ and ‘okay’, this becomes the chorus for the song.  The lyrics go on to say, “Keep me in exile the rest of my days / Burn me in hell but as long as it pays.”  More mild-mannered is ‘I’m Mandy, Fly Me’ (UK no. 6, US no. 60, AUS no. 62) which Stewart and Gouldman co-write with Lol Creme.  “American Airlines used to have this beautiful poster of this gorgeous stewardess inviting you on the plane,” recalls Eric Stewart.  “Her name wasn’t Mandy actually, it was something like…’I’m Cindy, fly me’.”  In this bass-heavy song, the narrator believes he is saved by this angelic flight attendant after a crash landing, but, “Oh, when they pulled me from the wreckage and her body couldn’t be found / Was it in my mind it seemed, I had a crazy dream, but I said, ‘No, no, no, no, no!’”  Kevin Godley’s wife, Susan, can be heard very briefly as the voice saying “hello?” on the track ‘Don’t Hang Up’.

10cc appear at England’s Knebworth Festival on 21 August 1976, but it is The Rolling Stones who headline the show.

In October 1976 Kevin Godley and Lol Creme leave 10cc.  “I was sorry to see them go.  But, we certainly did fall out at the time,” says Eric Stewart.  “I thought they were crazy…just walking away from something so…big and successful.”  With the benefit of hindsight, Graham Gouldman’s reaction is a little more cautious: “It was easier to deal with problems at the time we were the four of us.”

In April 1977 Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman take on four new members to form a new, six-piece 10cc.  Although these new musicians are added before the release of 10cc’s fifth album, they do not play on it since it was recorded earlier.  The new line-up is: Eric Stewart (vocals, guitar), Graham Gouldman (vocals, bass), Rick Fenn (guitar) (born 23 May 1953), Tony O’Malley (keyboards) (born 15 July 1948), Paul Burgess (drums) (born 28 September 1950) and Stuart Tosh (drums, vocals) (born 26 September 1951).  Unlike the previous 10cc, this is a less democratic unit; ‘Stewart and Gouldman are now firmly in control of all creative aspects.’

‘Deceptive Bends’ (1977) (UK no. 3, US no. 31) in May is credited to 10cc but is virtually all the work of Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman.  The songwriters, producers, singers and multi-instrumentalists are assisted only by Paul Burgess, who plays drums on the album.  ‘Good Morning Judge’ (UK no. 5, US no. 69, AUS no. 7) is another riff-based rocker.  The song’s narrator is a repeat offender who finds himself back in court: “Alcatraz is like a home sweet home / So wanted that I’m never alone.”  The jaunty ‘Things We Do For Love’ (UK no. 6, US no. 5, AUS no. 5) catalogues the irrational behaviour that goes with being besotted with another person: “Like walking in the rain and the snow when there’s nowhere to go / When you’re feeling like a part of you is dying.”  ‘People In Love’ (US no. 40, AUS no. 74) is a more straight-forward ballad.  Stewart and Gouldman try hard to be inventive on songs like ‘Marriage Bureau Rendezvous’, ‘Honeymoon With B Troop’ and ‘You’ve Got A Cold’.  ‘Modern Man Blues’ dips towards hard rock while ‘Feel The Benefit’ goes for a more expansive, cosmic feel.

The new 10cc line-up debuts with a concert recording, the double album ‘Live And Let Live’ (1977) (UK no. 14, US no. 146), released in autumn.

In February 1978 Duncan McKay (keyboards) (born 2 July 1950) replaces Tony O’Malley in 10cc.

‘Bloody Tourists’ (1978) (UK no. 3, US no. 69) in September is the real test for the new 10cc line-up.  Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman are credited as co-producers.  They also co-write the single ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ (UK no. 1, US no. 44, AUS no. 2), a reggae song with Graham Gouldman on lead vocals.  Eric Stewart explains that the song starts out based on personal experience: ”I was in Barbados at the time and I’m watching this white guy walking down the street behind this group of black guys.”  The visitor narrating the song professes, “I don’t like cricket – I love it,” and in subsequent verses, what he loves changes to ‘reggae’, ‘Jamaica’ and ‘her’.  The ‘her’ in the song purrs to him, “I’ve got it, you want it, my harvest is the best and if you try it you’ll like it / Wallow in a dreadlock holiday.”  ‘Dreadlocks’ are the strands of plaited hair worn by some Jamaicans, particularly those who identify themselves with the Rastafarian religion.  There is a loose thematic thread of foreign places and cultures on ‘Bloody Tourists’.  This runs through tracks like ‘Reds In My Bed’, ‘Tokyo’ and ‘From Rochdale To Ocho Rios’ (AUS no. 65).  Although most of the album is written by Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman, Stuart Tosh co-writes ‘Reds In My Bed’ with Eric Stewart and Tosh provides the lead vocal on that song as well.

“I had a ridiculous car crash in January 1979,” says Eric Stewart.  “I had to stay away…for about six months and the momentum of this big machine…slowed and slowed..”  Graham Gouldman ruefully notes, “Eric wasn’t the same after the accident he had…”

Graham Gouldman and his wife Susan divorce in 1979.  Gouldman releases a solo single, ‘Sunburn’ (UK no. 52, AUS no. 26), in 1979, the title song from the movie of the same name.  He goes on to record ‘Animalympics – Soundtrack’ (1980), another movie-related project.  Eric Stewart also releases a movie soundtrack, ‘Girls’ (1980), for a French film.

10cc regroup, but the band’s fortunes decline.  ‘Look Hear’ (1980) (UK no. 35, US no. 180) is sometimes known as ‘Are You Normal’ because those words are plastered across the cover in giant type.  It is the first of two albums released on Warner Bros. in the U.S.  This disc includes ‘One Two Five’ (AUS no. 85), a belated attempt to do a disco-influenced song (with one hundred and twenty-five beats to the minute, hence the title).  Duncan McKay leaves 10cc in 1981 and is replaced by new keyboardist Vic Emerson who plays on the next 10cc album, ‘Ten Out Of 10’ (1981).  Eric Stewart cuts another solo album, ‘Frooty Rooties’ (1982) before the next 10cc album, ‘Windows In The Jungle’ (1983) (UK no. 70).  Jamie Lane briefly plays drums with the group in 1983 before 10cc disbands in the same year.

When Kevin Godley and Lol Creme left 10cc in 1976 it was ‘to develop their new instrumental toy, The Gizmo.’  “It was a commercial bomb [The Gizmo}.  It died,” advises Godley.  Godley and Creme, working as a duo, record a series of albums: ‘Consequences’ (1977) (UK no. 52); ‘L’ (1978) (UK no. 47); ‘Freeze Frame’ (1979); ‘Ismism’ (1981) (UK no. 29) – renamed ‘Snack Attack’ (after one of the songs on the album) in the U.S.; ‘Birds Of Prey’ (1983); ‘The History Mix Volume 1’ (1985) (US no. 37); and ‘Goodbye Blue Sky’ (1988).  Some of their more successful singles are: 1979’s ‘An Englishman In New York’ (from ‘Freeze Frame’); 1981’s ‘Under Your Thumb’ (UK no. 3) and ‘Wedding Bells’ (UK no. 7) (both from ‘Ismism’); and 1985’s ‘Cry’ (UK no. 19, US no. 16) (from ‘The History Mix Volume 1’).  Godley and Creme have a parallel career directing music videos for acts such as Duran Duran, Visage, Elton John, Herbie Hancock and The Police.

Eric Stewart works with ex-Beatle Paul McCartney in the mid-1980s.

From 1983 to 1990 Graham Gouldman collaborates with Californian multi-instrumentalist Andrew Gold as a duo called Wax.  They release the albums ‘Magnetic Heaven’ (1986) (US no. 101), ‘American English’ (1987) (UK no. 59) and ‘A Hundred Thousand In Fresh Notes’ (1989).  Wax’s best known single is 1987’s ‘Bridge To Your Heart’ (UK no. 12).

In 1988 Graham Gouldman marries his second wife, Gill.  They have two children, Rosanna (born 1990) and Alex (born 1993).

The classic 10cc line-up – Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldman, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme – reassembles in 1991 for the album ‘Meanwhile’ (1992).  This includes ‘Don’t Break The Promises’, a track Stewart and Gouldman co-write with Paul McCartney.  The classic quartet does not last for long.  Godley and Creme exit again in 1993.  10cc take on new members Steve Piggott (keyboards) and Gary Wallis (drums) (born 10 June 1964) in 1993, as well as welcoming back Stuart Tosh (drums) and Rick Fenn (guitar).  ‘Mirror Mirror’ (1995) is almost like two solo albums joined together.  It includes appearances from Stewart and Gouldman’s other collaborators, Paul McCartney and Andrew Gold.  In promoting the album, Piggott and Wallis are replaced by Alan Park (keyboards) and Geoff Dunn (drums) in 1995.  10cc disbands once again in 1995.

Graham Gouldman puts together a new 10cc in 1999.  The line-up is: Graham Gouldman (vocals, bass), Mick Wilson (lead vocals, percussion), Rick Fenn (guitar), Mike Stevens (keyboards) and Paul Burgess (drums).

Graham Gouldman and his second wife, Gill, divorce in 2000.

The latest model of 10cc is only a touring outfit; they do not record.  Instead, Graham Gouldman issues a solo album, ‘And Another Thing…’ (2000).  Gouldman’s former confederate, Eric Stewart, releases a solo record too: ‘Don Not Bend’ (2003).

A sixth member is added to 10cc in 2006, Keith Hayman (keyboards, vocals), but he leaves the act in 2011.

Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman continue their respective solo recording careers.  Stewart releases ‘Viva La Difference’ (2009) while Gouldman issues the album ‘Love And Work’ (2012).

10cc was born out of a desire to experiment in the recording studio.  Specifically, they were born in Strawberry Studios.  Since the band owned the studio, it gives some indication of the level of their commitment to the craft of sound recording.  This practice gave rise to achievements like ‘I’m Not In Love’ and a string of interesting albums.  10cc were at their best when they were the quartet of Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldman, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.  This gave them a nice balance between Stewart and Gouldman’s commercial nous and Godley and Creme’s experimental instincts.  After the bifurcation of this foursome in 1976, each camp produced some interesting and worthwhile work, but they seemed to miss the counterbalancing force of their absent comrades.  By the time those four worked together again in 1992, whatever magic existed between them seemed to have dissipated.  The experiment had run its course.  “I’ve got great memories of 10cc,” said Kevin Godley in 2009.  “I think we did pretty good work.”  10cc was an ‘entertaining, satirical pop/rock band.’  They recorded ‘distinctive, memorable and innovative hit records.’

Sources:

  1. ‘The Very Best Of 10cc’ – Songwriting credits from the disc (Mercury Records Ltd. (London), 1997)
  2. 10cc – ‘I’m Not In Love’ – Making of (audio) documentary – 20 November 2010 (?)
  3. You Tube as at 2 July 2014
  4. theaudioarchive.com as at 2 July 2014
  5. wikipedia.org as at 5 May 2014
  6. ‘Flashez’ (Australian television program, ABC Network) – Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman interview conducted by Ray Burgess (1977)
  7. ‘No Bus Stop Yet for Graham Gouldman’ – Graham Gouldman interview conducted by John Bruinsma (May 2003) (reproduced on johnbruinsma.nl)
  8. ‘The Daily Mail’ (U.K. newspaper) -‘The Name Came to us in a Dream: 10cc the Best Band in the World’ – Graham Gouldman interview conducted by Mark Hudson (26 May 2007) (reproduced on dailymail.co.uk)
  9. ‘I Write The Songs’ (radio program, BBC Radio Wales) – Eric Stewart interview conducted by Alan Thompson (reproduced on (15) below)
  10. ‘10cc: Legends in their Lunchtime’ – Graham Gouldman and Kevin Godley interview conducted by Paul Dunoyer (7 August 2009) (reproduced on pauldunoyer.com)
  11. ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p. 229, 230
  12. ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 210
  13. theartofnoiseonline.com as at 4 July 2014
  14. wikianswers.com as at 2 July 2014
  15. 10ccfanclub.com
  16. allmusic.com, ‘Frabjoy & The Runcilble Spoon’ by Dave Thompson as at 4 July 2014
  17. ‘The Very Best Of 10cc’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (Mercury Records Ltd. (London), 1997) p. 3, 5, 8, 10
  18. ‘Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 77, 259
  19. ‘10cc – Heartbreakers’ (U.K. video documentary – Channel 4?) (2001?)
  20. allmusic.com, ‘10cc’ by Jason Ankeny as at 16 June 2014
  21. ‘The Guardian’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘It’s a Tragedy we didn’t stay Together’ – 10cc interview by Paul Lester (23 November 2012) (reproduced on theguardian.com)
  22. lyricsfreak.com as at 27 June 2014, 15 September 2014
  23. songfacts.com as at 2 July 2014

Song lyrics copyright EMI Music Publishing with the exceptions of ‘Une Nuit A Paris’ (copyright unavailable) and ‘Things We Do For Love’ (EMI Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group)

Last revised 17 September 2014

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