‘We Couldn’t Scrap The Whole Thing’: 10cc’s Survival Hit

THE 10CC THAT will be touring America starting in mid-July is only half the group that recorded 1975’s ‘I’m Not in Love’, but twice the band that cut this year’s perfect radio  record, ‘The Things We Do for Love’.

Guitarist Eric Stewart and bassist Graham Gouldman survived the departure of guitarist Lol Creme and drummer Kevin Godley; recorded ‘The Things We Do for Love’ and the Deceptive Bends album with drummer Paul Burgess; and then recruited three new members — guitarist Rick Fen, former Pilot drummer Stuart Tosh and former Kokomo keyboardist Tony O’Malley.

“Kev and Lol wanted to pursue a project with an instrument they invented called the Gizmo,” says Gouldman during a photo reception for the group at London’s Montcalm Hotel. “It was up to Graham and me to decide whether we continued 10cc or gave up,” Stewart interrupts. “After a lot of careful thought, at least two seconds, we thought we couldn’t scrap the whole 10cc thing, it had to live on. After we’d gotten over the shock, we were really elated because apparently we’d harbored secret desires to go our own ways within the band for a long time, and now we were able to do it.”

“The whole 10cc thing” had produced eight British Top Ten hits, the international smash ‘I’m Not in Love’ and five albums : 10ccSheet Music100ccHow Dare You and The Original Soundtrack.

When Godley and Creme left to record a triple album featuring the Gizmo, a device that fits onto a guitar to help create synthesizer-like effects, Stewart and Gouldman decided they had to come up with a hit single to prove they could still do it.

“‘The Things We Do for Love’ was mastered as a radio record in the cutting room,” Stewart says. “We played around with it a long time to make sure it would come over on radio in a very special way. It’s no big deal. There are two ways to mix a track. Either you mix the track for the guy with the big monitors and a superb system, or you mix it for 99% of the public who listen to radio and have quite reasonable stereos. We mixed the track for the 99% with reasonable stereos.”

Former member Godley wasn’t exactly impressed with the group’s pop-oriented product, which emphasizes Stewart’s vocal and the instrumental top while leaving a relatively sparse bass register. After listening to the single, Godley disposed of his copy by hurling it into a derelict Manchester building. About musical differences, Creme said Stewart and Gouldman are doing a good job of continuing the 10cc tradition, but that he and Godley “just want to do something different.”

‘The Things We Do for Love’ caught on with British and American radio programmers, and Stewart and Gouldman, dubbed 5c, found themselves with a hit single on the market and no album in the can. “We were getting telegrams from Phonogram records saying, ‘Where’s the album? We’ve got a record that’s going to be Top Five’,” Stewart recalls. “We, said, screw it, we’re going to take our time with it and be happy with it ourselves and hope the single slows down enough on its upward climb to give us breathing space.”

The album was also delayed because of problems caused by construction at their Strawberry South studio in the London suburb of Dorking. “On certain songs we had to stop recording while some guy banged a nail in the wall,” Stewart says. “One day I was singing the lead vocal on ‘Feel the Benefit’, and the whole studio started to shake. We thought something weird was happening with the monitor system. We went outside and a guy with a power roller was flattening the parking lot and shaking the whole building. We had to wait half a day for that.”

The road to Dorking inspired the Deceptive Bends title. “Every day I used to travel down from London and see the sign ‘Deceptive Bends’,” Graham remembers. “It struck me as quite a subtle word for the Department of Transport to be using, and Eric agreed it was a nice title.”

Hipgnosis, the London designers who created the covers of PresenceWish You Were Here and Wings over America, interpreted “Bends” as the dreaded sea malady, which this time strikes a beautiful model. Stewart and Gouldman appear on the cover in full divers’ costumes.

Godley and Creme’s Gizmo album should be completed this month and is set for fall release. Besides the Gizmo, the album features dialogue by comedian Peter Cook and a duet by Godley and Sarah Vaughan.

The album spawned another British hit, the uptempo novelty ‘Good Morning Judge’, but Phonogram opted for ‘People in Love’ as the new American single. Clearly they were hoping to appeal to those who had bought ‘I’m Not in Love’ and ‘The Things We Do for Love’.

It is that pop image that the band fears most. “I just hope we’re not typed,” Gouldman says. “No one track represents our album. We’re not a middle-of-the-road balladeering group. We hope people don’t think that’s all we do because that affects the sort of audiences you have. We played one concert in Germany where we got an audience of middle-aged people expecting a group like the Carpenters. ‘I’m Not in Love’ had been the biggest record we ever had, and they didn’t know anything else. They freaked.”

© Paul GambacciniRolling Stone, 28 July 1977

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