10cc, Genesis, Fleetwood Mac, ELO et al: Split Ends

SOME come, others go, but the name lives on for ever…10cc set no precedent by splitting in half last week, but the decision by Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart to keep the name alive raises a few pertinent questions.

Will the re-shaped 10cc be as successful as the original? And, talking of originality, can Stewart and Gouldman sustain the unique individuality, in production, composition and performance, they had made their niche in the company of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme?

Other bands have suffered similar traumas and gone on to greater glories, notably Genesis, who last year successfully buried the spell of Peter Gabriel and re-established themselves with Trick Of The Tail, the first album they recorded after his departure. Quite a feat, and one not beyond the considerable talents of Messrs Goulman and Stewart.

But there are doubts. 10cc, on the surface, were such a complete band that it’s difficult to foresee any future line-up re-capturing the magic that made them one of the most popular British bands of the Seventies. They were a foursome, and, just as the Beatles needed each other, Gouldman needed Stewart needed Godley needed Creme.

Or was that really the case? Certainly, the four together created the immediately identifiable sound of 10cc. On closer scrutiny, however, it would seem that the forces did not combine until late in the day, perhaps just before they would record a song. It is, for instance, no surprise that on one side of the split stand Godley and Creme, and, on the other, Gouldman and Stewart. That those two duos should go together was defined a long time ago, as far back as when 10cc formed in 1972. Gouldman and Stewart and Godley and Creme came from totally different backgrounds.

Gouldman and Stewart are from the old guard. They’d been around a long time, both had played together for a spell in the Mindbenders. Both are traditional pop writers and Gouldman, in fact, had spent his years before joining Hot Legs with Godley and Creme, the 10cc embryo, as a professional songsmith, penning classics like ‘For Your Love’, for the Yardbirds, and ‘Bus Stop’, for the Hollies.

Their educational backgrounds are modest, too, Stewart completing his school days at the Openshaw Technical High School, in Manchester, and Gouldman at the North Salford Secondary School.

Compare their pasts to those of Godley and Creme, both qualified graphic designers. Creme trained at the Birmingham College of Art and Godley at the Manchester and Stoke-on-Trent College of Art. Unlike their former colleagues, neither had played in established bands through the Sixties. They were too busy getting educated, until the formation of Hotlegs.

During the four-year history of 10cc, the duos, for the most part, stayed together, though they collaborated on many songs, Creme with Stewart, Gouldman with Creme and Godley, etc. Significantly, though, the band’s best songs were written by the partnerships of either Gouldman and Stewart or Godley and Creme.

Gouldman and Stewart combined to score the magnificent ‘I’m Not In Love’, with its beautifully lush arrangement, as well as other 10cc standards in ‘Ships Don’t Disappear In The Night’, ‘Wall Street Shuffle’ and ‘Rock And Roll Lullaby’, all fairly straight-forward pop songs which reflected their strict Sixties background.

In the same way, the material of Godley and Creme reflected their art school upbringing. They were always trying something new, an outlook best emphasised on the three-movement mini-opera ‘Une Nuit A Paris’, from The Original Soundtrack and on tracks from the four albums, ‘The Dean And I’ and ‘Hospital Song’, from the first album, ‘Hotel’ and ‘Clockwork Creep’, on Sheet Music, ‘Film Of My Love’, from The Original Soundtrack and ‘Head Room’ and ‘Don’t Hang Up’, on How Dare You.

‘I’m Mandy, Fly Me’, (Creme, Gouldman and Stewart), ‘Lazy Ways’, ‘Silly Love’ (Creme and Stewart) and ‘Second Sitting Of The Last Supper’ are examples where the collaboration with other writers worked. ‘I Wanna Rule The World’ (Creme, Godley and Gouldman) is a case where it didn’t, with, I presume, Creme and Godley attempting to convey the maniacal tendencies of a power-crazed nut and Gouldman sweetening the content with a melodious middle section.

Now that they have gone and done it, it isn’t a real surprise that Godley and Creme have left 10cc to pursue their gizmo ambitions. I get the impression that, within the framework of a band that consisted of four very powerful personalities, they felt restricted and perhaps always had to compromise. There was no room for personal indulgence, which is what their gizmo experiment boils down to.

It’s left to Stewart and Gouldman to pick up the pieces and whether they can do that will be seen on the new 10cc album, Consequences, which is released early next year. As Stewart has always done the engineering and mixing, the sound will probably be retained, but the 10cc magic was a merger of talents from those two diverse camps, and one is now gone. We wait, and hope.

There’s no reason, after all, why 10cc should not benefit from a fresh start. They’re just one of many bands who have stayed together successfully despite untimely departures by integral members. Look at Genesis and Yes, changes at the top that forced major re-assessments within the ranks.

Until last year, Genesis had managed to keep a stable line-up since they were formed ten years ago with Peter Gabriel (vocals), Mike Rutherford (bass), Steve Hackett (lead guitar), Tony Banks (keyboards) and Phil Collins (drums and percussion). Then Gabriel, recognised as the prime mover behind Genesis’s success, said that he was going solo to realise personal ambitions, leaving the band in a state of upheaval.

Months, and hundreds of auditions, later, Genesis announced that they would not be acquiring a new vocalist and that Phil Collins would take over as singer, which amused everybody as we thought he had little experience in that department and even less in projecting the songs, which were among Gabriel’s main fortes.

Nevertheless, Collins debuted as singer on A Trick Of The Tail and was acclaimed by one and all. He further enhanced his new reputation when Genesis went on the road, with the temporary help of drummer Bill Bruford, and proved to be a suitable spear-head, without needing the exhibitionism that marked his predecessor’s performances. Collins went out and did it and now Genesis are bigger than ever.

Yes have gone through upheavals since they were formed by Jon Anderson and Chris Squire in 1968, and they are the only survivors from an original line-up that also consisted of Bill Broomfield (drums), Peter Banks (guitar) and Tony Kaye (organ).

By ’71, the line-up had changed drastically. Bill Bruford, Genesis’ good Samaritan, took over on drums, Steve Howe on guitar and Rick Wakeman, formerly of the Strawbs, became the keyboards wizard when Tony Kaye left. Then Bruford quit to join King Crimson and his place was taken by former Plastic Ono Band drummer and friend of the stars, Alan White.

The biggest upset of all came two years ago when Wakeman left to go solo and his position was secured by ex-Refugee Patrick Moraz.

But now Moraz has just quit Yes and Wakeman has rejoined the band.

But what about the Electric Light Orchestra, Thin Lizzy and Fleetwood Mac, changes that have given the bands a launching pad to stardom in the States?

Formed out of the Move in 1971 by Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan, ELO never took off to any degree until Wood, who was always regarded as the band’s creative generator, left because he unselfishly felt that Lynne wasn’t getting enough attention. Until his decision to leave Lynne to it, ELO had been a tentative project, with unsteady personnel.

A year or so later, with the release of On The Third Day, ELO’s personnel problems started to work out.

Two years ago, Hugh McDowall took over from Ted Blight on cello and the following year, with the release of Face The Music, came the final changes, Kelly Groucutt taking over on bass and Melvyn Gale on cello from Mike Edwards. With the changes, ELO’s status in America has magnified enormously.

It was with their most recent line-up, too, that Thin Lizzy cracked the American market. Formed in Dublin at the start of the decade by Phil Lynott (bass), Eric Bell (guitar) and Brian Downey (drums), they were on the verge of making it in ’73 with Vagabonds Of The Western World when Bell cracked under the pressure and quit.

Gary Moore took over on axe for a while until he got the chance to join Colosseum and, at the beginning of ’74, Lynott and Downey met up with two unknown lead guitarists, Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham, and three albums later, with Jailbreak, America was theirs.

Fleetwood Mac are a slightly different proposition, with more than their fair share of ups and downs. Formed in 1967 by guitarist Peter Green, they took their name from drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, and there was another guitarist, Jeremy Spencer. A third player, Danny Kirwan, was later added.

Disillusioned, Green, the writer and singer, quit on May 25, 1970, and has been rarely heard of since. Christine McVie (nee Perfect, from Chicken Shack) joined her hubbie but had just settled when Spencer saw God in a Los Angeles street and decided to get closer by leaving Mac and joining the Children Of God. LA guitarist, singer and writer Bob Welch joined the gang.

From ’72 to ’75, there were all sorts of changes, with Kirwan departing and returning, ex-Savoy Brown singer Dave Walker and ex-Long John Baldry guitarist Bob Weston joining for a brief spell and finally, in ’75, Welch running out on Mac to form Paris.

Then the band was brought to stability with the McVies, Fleetwood, vocalist Stevie Nicks and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, recording the Fleetwood Mac album that’s been in the Stateside charts for nigh on two years.

Not forgetting, of course, Cockney Rebel, Be Bop Deluxe and Sparks, changes of convenience, in the hope that they would alter sagging fortunes.

The Jethro Tull and the Rolling Stones changes didn’t make much difference to their popularity.

Ian Anderson has been the mainstay of Jethro Tull since the band formed in Blackpool in 1968, with Martin Barre (guitar), Clive Bunker (drums) and Glenn Cornick (bass). Barre has always been in Anderson’s favour, but the rhythm section has changed a few times over the years. First Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond took over on bass, and later he was joined by Barriemore Barlow on drums, with the addition of a keyboards’ player, John Evan. John Glascock took over from Hammond-Hammond earlier this year. What it boils down to is that as long as there is an Ian Anderson, there will be a Jethro Tull.

The Stones, of course, were Mick Jagger, Keith Richard, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman and Brian Jones. Jones took his leave on June 9, 1969, because his songs weren’t getting the attention he felt they deserved. One can only sympathise with his predicament. The Stones are Jagger and Richard, which is why Wyman has had to record solo albums. Mick Taylor, formerly with John Mayall, was a Stone four days after Jones’ decision, but he left last year for the same reason. No sweat, said Jagger, we’ll soon get somebody else, and, eventually, in came Ronnie Wood, Keef’s mate, and he was happy to play second fiddle to Jagger and Richard. He, too, has got his solo albums to alleviate frustration.

Not forgetting America, where bands like Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead made changes which kept everybody happy.

The Dead have never officially split but have broken up for various periods to allow musicians to join other bands, notably Bob Weir (Kingfish) and Jerry Garcia (Merl Saunders Band and Old And In The Way). The name is still very much alive.

While Airplane was still still alive, the group split into two: Hot Tuna, formed by bassist Jack Casady and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, was primarily a live band, and the embryonic Jefferson Starship, a recording-only band led by vocalists Grace Slick and Paul Kantner. Violinist Papa John Creach played with all three bands. Airplane eventually metamorphosed into Starship which became a gigging band, with the addition of Airplane drummer, John Barbata and vocalist Marty Balin. Both bands now enjoy huge popularity in the States.

And, of course: Colosseum II, Uriah Heep and Greenslade, changes that just about keep ’em all breathing.

Colosseum was first formed in the dark days of ’68 by Jon Hiseman (drums), Dick Heckstall Smith (tenor sax), Dave Greenslade (organ), Tony Reeves (bass) and Dave Clempson (guitar), and courted various members in vocalist Chris Farlowe and keyboards man, Mark Clarke, until it split in ’71. Then, glory-be, Hiseman came up with the bright idea of re-forming the band last year, enlisting the help of ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist, Gary Moore, Don Airey (keyboards), Neil Murray (bass) and Mike Starrs (vocals).

But their music has become as laboured and boring as Uriah Heep’s. Heep, feeling the need for change, have re-assessed their role, commencing with the sacking of vocalist David Byron. Just after that, the man who was to be instrumental in re-building the foundations, bassist John Wetton, left, leaving Ken Hensley (keyboards), Mick Box (guitar) and Lee Kerslake (drums) to pick up the pieces.

The new vocalist is John Lawton and new bass player Trevor Bolder, and the new band is currently working on a new album.

Dave Greenslade (see Colosseum) formed his own band in 1972 with Dave Lawson (organ and vibraphone), Tony Reeves (bass and flute) and Andrew McCulloch (percussion). They split last year but Greenslade, much to the annoyance of his former colleagues, has reformed the band to promote his new album. New members are Mick Rogers (guitar), Simon Philips (drums) and Dave Markee (bass).

Is this section called “Prolonging The Agony?”

And, lest we forget: Pink Floyd (Sid Barrett, regarded as the boy Wonder, quit in 1967 and hasn’t been heard of since. Dave Gilmour took his place); Strawbs (a litany of ex-inmates, including Rick Wakeman, Richard Hudson and John Ford, who are Hudson-Ford, and Blue Weaver); Roxy Music (Eno had enough in the summer of ’73 and was replaced by Eddie Jobson); and Steeleye Span (Maddy Prior and Tim Hart are the only remaining original members).

But the names are all still there and always…

“Hey, man, what about Deep Purple.”

But they’re deceased, at last.

“They haven’t done their farewell tour yet, the one to back up the new album.”

Okay: Deep Purple, die for God’s sake.

© Harry DohertyMelody Maker, 4 December 1976

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