Sonicbond Publishing [Publication date 17.08.20]
In the hot summer of 1976 I was checking roll-on roll-off cargo at Liverpool Docks and realised I was looking at a consignment of music gear. It turned out that 10cc were coming over from Ireland and the road manager kindly offered me tickets for the UK leg of the tour. Suitably ensconced a couple of weeks later in one of the front rows at Liverpool Empire I had sheepishly asked an attractive female colleague to accompany me.
In spite of 10cc’s fame, and run of Top 20 hits at the time, she didn’t seem that impressed and the lack of warm feelings in my direction rendered the classic ‘I’m Not In Love’ rather hollow. I went back to daydreaming behind the water cooler.
Peter Kearns takes the band’s story back to Hotlegs in 1970/1. The narrative remains interesting throughout and this is mainly because Kearns is a musician and brings that analysis rather than a mere personal opinion.
I’ve interviewed Graham Gouldman on a couple of occasions and asked if there was any competition for songs in the band, given there were four capable writers. Not unlike Steve Hackett jostling for position in Genesis. It does seem that there was a lot of egalitarianism. If the contribution was good enough, he said, and the band all agreed, it stayed in.
Kearns chronicles the various writing strategies and the changing demands of the music industry often in the face of adversity against changing trends: “…they merely did what they did best – write pure pop songs with an intellectual edge, performed with an agility borne of decades honing their craft.”
Kearns referred to the band’s situation in the early eighties – against a background of punk and new wave with synths – but it equally applies now, in the auto-tuned, rapid fire “home” production of many offerings. Good stuff will always win out and become ever more durable.
In more recent times 10cc have been classed as “progressive rock” in some media. This is misleading; they were a superior pop rock band and if anything the progressive elements remained in their approach to multi-layer recording, influenced in the late 1960s by The Beatles. They also had exclusive access to their own studio near Manchester.
The later 10cc albums are worth investigating, even though the swansong ‘Mirror Mirror’ (1995) was somewhat fragmented with Eric Stewart and Gouldman working separately. However, this “separation” arguably kicked in as early as 1979 after Eric Stewart’s car accident which would also have a lasting impact on the band’s future modus operandi.
For completism, Kearns covers the solo works of Lol Crème and Kevin Godley but Eric Stewart and Gouldman’s solo efforts (including those with Andrew Gold as Wax) are strangely omitted, with only passing reference.
There is also no reference to the fact that Graham is still touring with an iteration of 10cc and in his own right. Any live albums released under that name, post-Stewart, are ignored.
A list of sources would have been useful and it’s not clear if Godley or Gouldman assisted in this effort, although credited by the author. Readers are also directed to the recent band biography by Liam Newton.
That said, a useful summary of one of our finest pop rock bands, and worth checking out. ****
Review by David Randall
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