10cc: The Worst Band In The World?

WHILE MANY of the veterans on the 1960s musical scene are still around, few are creating much in the way of new musical excitement. There are the ageing glitter idols (Gary Glitter, Bolan et al); stupefying jam bands (Yes, ELP, etc); and those who belong to the old-horses-never-die school (Stones, Lennon, Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel etc). Most of these chart toppers are resting on past laurels, and some (Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, etc) don’t even know if they still have laurels to rest on.

But 10cc, not content to rely on past track records, have been working wonders up in Manchester, becoming, in the process, the first creators of a 1970’s rock aesthetic. This, then, is their story–one which begins sometime around 1960…

It was about that time that Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and Graham Gouldman were attending the same grade schools in Manchester, eventually gravitating to a local Jewish club. the J.A.B. (Jewish Alliance Brigade) quickly became the scenario for a local battle-of-the-bands where three local groups all competed for the music room so they could rehearse. Lol Creme, then a mere lad of 14, recalls it thus: “The Sabres and the Whirlwinds were the two big competitors. Graham was in the Whirlwinds, and I started out in the Sabres …” Alongside Lol in the Sabres was his cousin Neil, and Kevin Godley who joined with his now legendary Hofner Club 50 bass. Things went along like this for a while, when the Whirlwinds got a recording contract and became ‘professional’.

Unfortunately, no one in the Whirlwinds could come up with an adequate song, so an old Buddy Holly number ‘Look At Me’ was chosen. For the B side, Gouldman turned to his old rival from the Sabres, Lol Creme, who had just penned his first song, ‘Baby Not Like Me’. Lol: “I had just started writing a bit, about the time the Beatles were beginning to happen, and Graham needed a song, so I gave him ‘Baby Not Like Me’. He did a fabulous guitar solo on that–he’s a great guitar player–but the Whirlwinds split up soon after their first bout with the music business…”

Meanwhile the Sabres were plugging along and by now Kevin Godley had graduated to drums. But Graham, headstrong boy that he was, didn’t give up. He took Bernard Basso and Steve Jacobsen from the Whirlwinds, and “stole” Kevin Godley from the Sabres, and formed a new group called The Mockingbirds. Graham: “I started writing just about the time the Mockingbirds began. The first record the Mockingbirds made was my song ‘For Your Love’, but our company turned it down!!! The Yardbirds later got a hold of it and it was a world-wide smash.” Kevin: “We played a lot of strange material–obscure r’n’b and soul, and we recorded pop songs. The two directions just didn’t go hand in hand. It was sort of mediocre pop, and the r’n’b was a bit obscure for the audience.

It seems inconceivable that the Mockingbirds never made much of an impact in Britain. Graham was having hits with major stars like the Hollies, Herman’s Hermits and Yardbirds, and was meeting all the right people. Even their first record (two Gouldman originals) ‘That’s How It’s Gonna Stay’/’I Never Should Have Kissed You’ issued in early ’65 was phenomenal. Strongly commercial, the record was distinctive, although clearly in a Beatles-Hollies mould. It was polished, and really quite brilliant, but it just flopped. “We called that ‘The Milk Bottle Song’ …” recalls Kevin, “and the second was called ‘I Can Feel We’re Parting’. We did one for Immediate as well, but I can’t remember it for the life of me …”

How did the newly successful songwriter feel when his own group just couldn’t get anywhere? Graham: “There was an interest in my writing, but no one paid too much attention to the Mockingbirds. I was writing hits, but we were still playing for $80 a night. In a way I felt guilty that the Mockingbirds weren’t having any hits …” Kevin: “Just about all the songs we recorded were Graham’s songs, but nothing happened. It was amazing–he was a very big writer at the time, but the group chemistry just didn’t make it together.”

After the two releases for Columbia, the Mockingbirds went over to Immediate for a lone single, ‘You Stole My Love’. Graham: “That one was produced by Giorgio Gomelsky and Paul Samwell-Smith … Julie Driscoll sang on it as well … The last two Mockingbirds singles trickled out from Decca, but even the group members remember little about these. Kevin: “A lot of time and effort went into the Mockingbirds, but it just didn’t happen. We certainly weren’t jealous of Graham’s success because if anything, it gave us a better chance for success. I was still at college and would have to get up at 6 in the morning, travel 60 miles, play a gig at night, travel back home, and then get up at 6 the next morning. Eventually, it just got to be too much, so I split from the group.”

Kevin and Lol teamed up in college and got heavily into art and design. Meanwhile local boy-wonder Eric Stewart became a national figure as a member of Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders. When Wayne split to go solo, the Mindbenders reaped enormous success with ‘Groovy Kind Of Love’. In all, Eric made three US tours, and continued to be the mainstay of the Mindbenders throughout 1966 and early 1967.

During his tenure with Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Eric recalls his first meeting with Jonathan King: “An interesting thing about Jonathan is that originally at the start of Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders he used to follow us around in this sort of tatty white sports car–he had just left Cambridge, I think. He saw the music business as the ideal way to make millions of pounds. He’d follow us all over England, and he’d tell us: ‘Please let me manage you–I’ll make you bigger than the Beatles …’ And we said, ‘Get lost, you’re crazy’ … So he went off and did it on his own with ‘Everyone’s Gone To The Moon’ …”

Meanwhile, Graham Gouldman was gaining stature and money for his slew of compositions including ‘Heart Full Of Soul’, ‘Listen People’, ‘For Your Love’ ‘Look Thru Any Window’, ‘Bus Stop’, ‘No Milk Today’, ‘East West’, ‘Pamela Pamela’, ‘Evil Hearted You’, and Jeff Beck’s ‘Tallyman’. In early ’66 (when he was still in the Mockingbirds), Graham recorded his first solo single. The A side was an overproduced rocker with an attempted r’n’b feel to it, and the B side was a nice, though plain, ballad. Graham: “That was a terrible record–horrible. One of those things you’re pressured into doing. I did that one without the Mockingbirds–I’d really rather forget it …” Graham continued writing hits: “I did for a period write specifically for a particular artist I had in mind. Like ‘Bus Stop’ was specifically written for the Hollies as a follow-up to ‘Look Thru Any Window’. On my demo for ‘Bus Stop’ I just played guitar and bass, and had about four vocals and some backing tambourine …”

Graham’s first outside work was when he produced a record by Little Frankie in August 1965. Graham wasn’t too happy with the choice of material, but it gave him a taste for production work. So he wrote ‘Getting Nowhere’ (originally titled ‘I’m 28, It’s Getting Late’) for local Manchester lass Friday Browne, in early ’66, and later that year penned Dave Berry’s ‘Gonna Take You There’. Others like ‘Behind The Door’ were recorded by both English (St Louis Union) and American (Cher) artists.

When the Downliners Sect, nearing the end of their career, asked for a song, Graham came up with the ‘Cost Of Living’. Gouldman declares that his demo was actually released as ‘The Downliners Sect’: “That record was my demo. I think they may have added a few things, but it was basically me …” Despite the unfinished nature of the record, it holds up well, driving along nicely.

‘The Cost Of Living’ was co-written by Peter Cowap, a Manchester mate who almost brought ‘Greensleeves’ into the British charts a few years earlier as a member of The Country Gentlemen. Later Cowap was content to play small local gigs, not pushing for any star success. However he did work on numerous projects with Graham, one being ‘People Passing By’ by the High Society. The late ’66 release written by Graham was a one-shot deal. Gouldman: “I was involved with the production and singing on that one. The people involved were Peter Cowap, me, and Friday Browne. The session people included Phil Dennys, Clem Cattini, and John Paul Jones. Now that I remember, I think it was the first time I met John Paul …”

Early in 1967, a rollicking platter emerged by the Manchester Mob. ‘Bony Moronie at the Hop’ was the name, and though a huge disco favourite, it never broke onto the national charts. Again a one-shot, the Manchester Mob was actually Graham and friends: “Pete Cowap and I thought the rock’n’roll era was coming back, but I guess we were about two or three years ahead of it. The other session people were Phil Dennys, John Paul Jones, and Clem Cattini. It was really a lot of fun …”

In mid-’66, when the Mockingbirds were nearing their demise, it was announced that a new group was forming, “primarily for recording purposes”. The press release continued: “As yet unnamed, the group will feature Animals lead guitarist Hilton Valentine. Also in the lineup are ex-Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith, and hit songwriter Graham Gouldman. The group will independently produce its own records for a major company not named. The first single, for release in October, will be a Gouldman composition. A singer is being sought to complete the lineup …” Graham: “I remember something vaguely about that, but nothing ever came of it …”

For a year during ’67 and ’68 Graham signed a publishing deal with Robbins music in America. It was one of Graham’s less successful ventures: “They gave me a good advance which was very nice of them, and sent me a cheque every quarter. In return I was sending them songs. But that was it–I don’t think one of the songs was placed, out of 22 I wrote for them!! It was a very depressing time for me, because an artist needs his ego fed. He needs recognition …” Perhaps Graham’s attitude at this time was best summed up by his own lyrics as they appeared on an obscure American single by Toni Basil, ‘I’m 28’: “Hey! I’m 28/It’s getting late/What have I got to do?/My time is going/My fears are growing/My chances now are few/… It’s getting me nowhere.”

During the Robbins deal, Graham began two projects which were to carry him through late ’67 and just about all of 1968. The first of these was his involvement with the Mindbenders. The group had been issuing singles, without much success, choosing writers like Toni Wine and Goffin-King for their A sides, while Eric Stewart wrote most of their B sides. The A sides were usually MOR pop songs, while the B sides were a bit more heavy and instrumental. Rod Argent’s ‘I Want Her She Wants Me’ didn’t bring them back to the charts, and neither did the follow-up ‘We’ll Talk About It Tomorrow’. However the flip, Bob Lang’s ‘Far Across Town’ was a lovely pop-rocker which has to rank as one of the group’s better efforts. One day Graham heard ‘The Letter’ by the Box Tops: “The minute I heard that record I fell in love with it, I had known Eric for some time and just started by writing and producing for them. ‘The Letter’ was the first thing I did with them …” Arranged by John Paul Jones, and produced by Graham, ‘The Letter’ brought the Mindbenders back into the Top 30. Stewart’s flip was again adventurous with wah-wah, phasing, off-beat drumming, lilting background vocals, and psychedelic sitar like solo. ‘Schoolgirl’ was next, and looked like another hit, when the BBC banned it for suggestive lyrics. Eric: “We put the lyrics on the cover of that one, which was a big mistake …”

Next came ‘Blessed Are The Lonely’ which Graham states he didn’t work on: “I helped set up the session with the group and John Paul Jones, but didn’t participate in it.” He should have told the record company that because the advertising that went out for ‘Blessed’ had Graham pictured as being a member of the Mindbenders! Stewart’s flip, ‘Yellow Brick Road’ was one of the best records Traffic never made.

As if the ‘Blessed’ ad had been prophetic, Graham joined the Mindbenders for their last few months of existence. By now Jimmy O’Neil had been recruited from the Uglies, and Paul Hancox was added, so only Eric was an original Mindbender. Eric: “We couldn’t get it going, because the group was into very heavy music, and the group was well known for light soft music. The audience just wouldn’t have it–they wanted ‘Groovy Kind Of Love’ and that sort of thing. We were all bored with that. The product we tried to release was just too heavy for the record company … and they wouldn’t release it …” The Mindbenders’ final attempt was a brilliant two-sided release, Gouldman’s ‘Uncle Joe The Ice Cream Man’ b/w Stewart’s ‘The Man Who Loved Trees’. ‘Uncle Joe’, trying to cash in on the cutesy flower-power mood, was about as commercial as a record could get. But like most of Gouldman’s commercial leanings, ‘Uncle Joe’ had a lovely melody, a fine arrangement, and a tasty production. It’s really a shame that this group of Mindbenders was not allowed to continue, because judging by this last single, they had a lot to offer–an album from this period might have ushered in an era of a new commercial-pop supergroup. Stewart’s final B side remains today a perfectly innovative record. Particularly noteworthy is the fine drumming, strong lyrical content, and really outstanding lead vocals. Graham: “Our final Mindbenders records just weren’t successful in the least. We were trying obviously, but the whole scene was very depressing really. The audience just couldn’t accept what we wanted to do. Listen to some of Eric’s old B sides–they were quite heavy…”

The other project that Graham got heavily involved with during ’67 and ’68 was his solo album, THE GRAHAM GOULDMAN THING. It was originally intended to be produced by Peter Noone: “It was supposed to be something like the artist produces the writer, but he wasn’t there on any of the sessions–though he is credited as producer. I did the whole thing with John Paul Jones who arranged the tracks, played on it and also helped produce it. It was an important project for me at the time, I put a lot of work into it.” This concern is shown by listening to the album, which exudes tasteful arrangements, and thoughtful production. My favourites are still the hits like ‘Bus Stop’ and ‘For Your Love’, but all the tracks have something interesting to offer. The orchestral arrangements on ‘No Milk Today’ and ‘Upstairs-Downstairs’ are particularly refreshing. Strangely enough, the album was not released in England, and despite a heavy US promo campaign, didn’t sell much to Americans. A perennial cut-out album, The GG Thing has been selling heavily of late. “I hear it has sold more in the last few weeks than it did in the last few years,” laughs Graham.

Lol and Kevin had finished up at college, and began getting back into music again. Kevin: “Actually, this is the first time we remembered this, but when we were still at college, we were being handled by Jim O’Farrell–who was part of the Kennedy Street management structure that handled Graham and the Mindbenders. He got us some money to do some demos, and we did make a couple of records, but nothing was released …”

Then came an important step in the development of 10cc. Graham: “I was doing some work with Giorgio Gomelsky and his Marmalade label, and I brought Kevin down to the session. I wanted Kevin to sing on one of the songs and when Giorgio heard Kev sing he couldn’t believe it–his voice was so fantastic. So when Giorgio was told that Kevin wrote and sang with Lol, he got them to record an album.” Lol picked up the story: “Me and Kev were writing musical show ideas, and trying to get them placed without any success. So through Graham, Giorgio hears us and tells us he wants to make an album. We were going to play all the instruments ourselves, but then we asked Eric to play the lead guitar.” Kevin: “We got all the basic tracks finished. We worked our bollocks off to finish the material. One day they booked an arranger to add some strings and stuff down at Advision and the date was all set. When we turned up, no one was there! This would happen over and over again. We’d come down to London after a train trip that invariably took hours, and no one was there. Giorgio was very unreliable.”

The album never came out because Giorgio spent all his advance money, and had to make himself “rare” for awhile. But some material was released from these sessions. First off, there was a single released under the name Frabjoy And Runcible Spoon, (Kevin: “Giorgio decided to manufacture another Simon and Garfunkel”), called ‘I’m Beside Myself’ b/w ‘Animal Song’. Then there was a Marmalade sampler which had a cut on it by a unit dubbed Graham and Kevin. Lol: “That one, ‘Fly Away’, was actually me and Kevin. Graham did ‘Late Mr Late’ …” Graham: ‘Late Mr Late’ was done with Kevin and Lol, and I also helped out on their unreleased album along with Eric. In a way, it was really 10cc. On ‘Beside Myself’, I played some bass and guitar. Unfortunately the label folded, but a few things came out …”

Harvey Lisberg, Graham’s long-time business advisor, was in New York and met with Kasenetz-Katz who expresed interest in working with Graham. “They wanted me to write and produce for them, so I figured why not? Nothing else was happening for me at the time–I came over to New York and really worked hard. The Kasenetz-Katz team owned dozens of hit-name groups, and constantly needed new writers to provide material. So Graham came up with ‘Sausalito’, which was partially recorded in New York, London, Manchester, and New York again. It was a fairly big hit getting to the mid-50’s in the U.S., and Top 20 in many foreign lands. Another step in the development of 10cc occurred when Gouldman convinced Kasenetz-Katz to come over to England. Kevin: “We were very moral at the time, meaning that we didn’t do anything that was vaguely connected with money or hype. The Kasenetz-Katz idea was that we were going to be the session musicians for a whole load of bands that K-K would put out on various labels. We were very indignant about the whole thing, but we were also very broke, so we just had to do it. It turned out to be very valuable experience, in that it taught us what not to do. It was originally supposed to be all Graham’s songs, then they got a hold of one of ours called ‘Umbopo’ …”

The original ‘Umbopo’ was released in the US as the Crazy Elephant in early 1970. This was most probably a product of the London sessions which Kevin calls “the epitome of all the hustles in the world”. He continues: “We were doing sessions in London, but it was terrible–just horrible. We did a lot of tracks in a very short time–it was really like a machine. Twenty tracks in about two weeks–a lot of crap really–really shit. We used to do the voices, everything–it saved ’em money. We even did backing female vocals!”

Eventually Graham and Eric convinced Kasenetz-Katz to come up to Strawberry Studios (which was just getting off the ground), and finish the projects. As to what was issued from both the London and Manchester sessions, Kevin states: “I don’t know–I really don’t have the foggiest.” For sure, there was ‘Umbopo’ (Crazy Elephant), and ‘Sausalito’ (Ohio Express). Then there was ‘Susan’s Tuba’ issued under the name Freddie and the Dreamers in early ’71. This record had been recorded about a year before, and had actually been a huge European hit, reaching number 2 in France. Graham sang, and the rest of the boys provided the backing. (A recorded follow-up to ‘Susan’s Tuba’ was never released due to a myriad of business hassles.) Late in 1970, another version of ‘Umbopo’ was released under the name ‘Doctor Father’. This one was recorded up at Strawberry, and was infinitely better than the ‘Crazy Elephant’ version. The flip, ‘Roll On’ was a dreamy blues song, possibly done as a Strawberry rehearsal track.

Early ’71 saw the release of ‘When He Comes’ under the name Fighter Squadron, sounding again like a product of the London sessions. It was credited to Gouldman-Kasenetz-Katz, but was probably mostly Graham’s work. (“They had to have their names on everything,” states Graham …) Lol: “We were on ‘When He Comes’–Kev sang that …”

The trio of Stewart-Godley-Creme remained in Strawberry, while Graham returned to New York to do some additional work with US session people. “The only thing of note that came out of those sessions was a song I write, ‘Have You Ever Been To Georgia’ which was a hit for various people around the world. I did meet a lot of great people while doing the Kasenetz-Katz thing–some really great characters, and Jerry & Jeff were really fantastic, in a way …”

Through the work with Kasenetz-Katz in London and up at Strawberry, the Godley-Creme-Stewart trio began to work more and more together. Lol: “Eric had just gotten the four track machine in, so me and Kev said we’d come down and bang around a bit while he got the sounds organised–that’s really how ‘Neanderthal Man’ came about. When Eric was testing the equipment, I started singing this tune while Kevin was playing the bass drum–so the track was partially developed when Eric was trying to build up a bass drum sound. I was singing into the bass drum. So after three or four tracks of drums, we almost had the whole thing together.” Kev: “A guy from Philips came around and said, ‘That’s a smash’ so Eric wrote the middle eight, and we finished it off properly. We did it again, and it was better–because it had a structure–it was resolved’n all. It sold 2 million records worldwide–we saw a lot of money from that.”

Hotlegs put out a follow-up album, THINKS SCHOOL STINKS, which didn’t sell too much. A few years later the packaging was copied by Alice Cooper, who promptly sold a few million units. Hotlegs, with Graham Gouldman joining on live dates, went on UK tour with the Moody Blues, and got rave reviews. In conjunction with that tour, the Hotlegs LP was reissued in Britain, with the substitution of two new tracks, ‘Today’ and ‘The Loser’. ‘Today’ has to be one of the premier Strawberry team collaborations–a perfect combination of melody, vocals, and ace musicianship. “‘Today’ was originally a song from that old Marmalade Giorgio Gomelsky album–It was an old song, but an entirely new recording …” Graham: “This is really where 10cc started happening …” It’s easy to hear that if you listen to what Hotlegs was doing then, especially the flip of ‘Neanderthal Man’ which bears a striking resemblance to 10cc’s ‘Fresh Air For My Momma’.

After the Hotlegs era died out, Strawberry studios really became the trio’s/quartet’s prime source of activity. The studio had dozens of artists in every conceivable musical field coming through, and in their first two years of operation these included such stellar names as the Garden Odyssey, Shep’s Banjo Band, Gordon Smith, Syd Lawrence Orchestra, Barclay James Harvest, Elias Hulk, Scaffold, Mary Hopkin, Purple Gang, Tony Christie, and numerous others. There were some that the group took special interest in, and bear detailing here.

First off, they took interest in a guy called Ramases. Kevin: “We did an album for him called SPACE HYMNS. He had the barest essentials of a song and we did the whole album–writing, playing, and producing. We got very into that, and also got very let down when nothing too much happened with it. It was very inventive, a spacey sort of thing–It did very well in Holland!” Kevin continues: “Then we latched onto Mike Timoney who plays the cordovox, and did an album with him as well. He’s an absolute genius, and also a total maniac. He’s like a one-man orchestra!”

Along the way the Fourmost came in and did ‘Easy Squeezy’, and also did ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ under the name Format. Eric and Graham were constantly recording songs and demos and in late ’69 Eric recorded four originals with Graham described as “progressive blues”. Wayne Fontana did ‘This Is My Woman’ b/w ‘You’d Be Better Off Without Me’ with what had become the Strawberry Studio band (Godley-Creme-Stewart–and sometimes Graham Gouldman), but this doesn’t seem to have been released. Eric: “We tried to cover too much ground–writing, producing, arranging, playing, singing, engineering, etc. We didn’t like to say ‘no’ to anybody, and we really wound up wasting our own time and energy.”

Then in came old friend Dave Berry who recorded a bunch of sides at Strawberry written and played by the Strawberry gang. ‘Change Our Minds’ in early ’70, and ‘Chaplin House’ later that year. Peter Cowap teamed up with Graham for a trio of releases for Pye, and more old friends like Freddie Garrity and Wayne Fontana recorded there as well. The Hermits recorded over 50 tracks during the course of the year, most of which were never released. Peter Noone also made his presence felt, and a year-old ‘Because You’re There’ was issued in ’72. Graham: “I played guitar, did backing vocals, and co-wrote that one …”

The Strawberry group even made some of those British Football records. Kev: “We did loads of ’em. We were running out of bread again, so Graham got us to do some. We did a Les Reed one, Leeds …” Eric: “Graham and I worked with Jeff Smith. That was another one of those deals where people placed money in our hands and said ‘Do what you can’. There was no success there, though we thought he was a good songwriter. The Strawberry team also produced ‘Men From Nazareth’ for John Paul Jones, which was a big hit.” John Paul Jones had to change the spelling to Joans, and then finally shortened his whole name to simply John, to avoid conflicts with Zeppelin’s JPJ. Eric: “We also did a Barry Greenfield album, SWEET AMERICA.”

In early 1972, Graham Gouldman released his first solo record in almost five years, produced by Eric Woolfson. ‘Growing Older’ was a catchy ballad with a nice arrangement, which promptly faded into obscurity.

By now, the plethora of activity at Strawberry began to depress the team as they realised that their own musical ambitions were being lost in the shuffle. So they made a concentrated effort to put together something good, and lasting. Eric: “We had a track called ‘Waterfall’ which we were trying to peddle around as a single. So we needed a B side. The two writing teams disappeared into two different rooms, and we came up with ‘Donna’. About three-quarters of the way through the record, we sussed out that there was something in it that was commercial. So we decided to treat it like an A side, and when we finished it, we figured Jonathan was the only one made [sic] enough to release it and promote it. He loved it, and it was a smash …”

True enough, a certified European smash, and then 10cc returned with ‘Johnny, Don’t Do It’. Kevin: “‘Johnny’ was recorded specifically as a single, but that was a mistake. We really didn’t know what 10cc was all about–we thought it was a formula thing.” ‘Johnny’ was criticised by some for its similarity to ‘Donna’ end subsequently flopped. Did the group think it was going to be Hotlegs all over again–one hit wonders and all that?? Kevin replies emphatically: “No, because we were already into ‘Rubber Bullets’ and ‘Sand In My Face’ which we knew were great, so we weren’t depressed.”

Kevin reveals the story of ‘Rubber Bullets’: “Me and Lol started writing it, and we wrote a couple of verses, and the chorus. We thought it was OK, but we weren’t particularly knocked out by it. We played it to Eric, and he said ‘You’ve got to finish that–it’s a hit record’ …” Eric adds: “It was the chorus that got me–incredible. And the words were so interesting.” Kevin continues: “So he instigated us to finish it. He came in with us and wrote the middle eight. We actually finished it up at my house. The confidence in ourselves had arrived, and we could rely upon the company machinery with Jonathan, so we knew it was worthwhile working.”

Even while 10cc was happening, they were working with other artists, though of course, their outside activities had been cut to the bone. They did work with Neil Sedaka who recorded to [sic] brilliant albums up at Strawberry using Godley-Creme-Stewart–and Gouldman as musicians, arrangers, and producers. Lol: “He had heard a track of ours, and decided to come over to Strawberry and do a couple of tracks, just to see how it went, and he got turned on by the whole thing. It was really an education for us. He was great. One night he just sat down and did a medley of his hits and it took forever … I mean they just kept coming out one after the other–really great!” Sedaka garnered some British hits, and has re-established himself there as a current artist, and the push is on in the States now to make it happen there.

Wayne Fontana was the beneficiary of some Strawberry help in Mid-’73 when Graham Gouldman wrote ‘Together’, and the group played and produced the record.

The rest of 10cc’s history is fairly current, and quite well known. ‘Rubber Bullets’ being the monster hit that topped the charts for weeks overseas, and even managed to dent the Top 50 in the US. A “highly acclaimed” album is available for all now, and the band reveals some of their recording secrets: “All our things are written before they are recorded. We usually lay down the music tracks, and put the vocal on top as soon as possible. We used to leave the vocals for the bitter end, which didn’t work because the productions were so overdone, there was no room for the vocal. Now all our ideas complement the vocal–not destroy it. Almost everything including guitar solos are written into the songs.”

“We did have some qualms about putting all the singles on the album but we decided that we really hadn’t established ourselves yet, so we figured people would be interested in relating to the singles and the album … . But all our B sides aren’t on the album, so people still get a little something extra for their money. On the LP we remixed some things like ‘Donna’ and included the full version of ‘Rubber Bullets’. For the final mix we put it through our new 16-track board. We really realised our identity somewhat after the album was finished. We worked on every track like a single–it was spontaneous and right for then …”

Summing up “their master plan to control the universe” they continue: “The Sweet, Slade, and Gary Glitter thing is all very valuable pop, but it’s fragile because it depends on a vogue. We don’t try to appeal to any one audience, or aspire to instant stardom. We’re satisfied to move ahead a little at a time, as long as we’re always moving forward.” Right now, 10cc is finishing off their second album, and embarking on their first US tour. Whether the group can continue to break through old musical barriers, and still break onto the US charts remains to be seen, but they sure intend to give it a try!”

© Alan BetrockZigZag, August 1974

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