10cc are an English art-pop band that released two albums on UK Records in 1973/74, followed by seven albums and a live two-record set on Mercury between 1975 and 1983.
In their initial four-piece lineup, 10cc recorded the choral-layered production landmark “I’m Not in Love.” Following the departure of co-founders Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, the remaining duo of Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart issued the angular, harmonized evergreen “The Things We Do for Love” and expanded 10cc to a sextet for the 1978 album Bloody Tourists and the hit “Dreadlock Holiday.”
10cc coalesced during the early 1970s at Stockport’s Strawberry Studios — one of North England’s most state-of-the-art yet remotely located and underused recording facilities — where the band members refined an assortment of production techniques in the guise of Hotlegs, noted for the 1970 novelty “Neanderthal Man.” During the 1960s, the members rubbed shoulders in the Mancunian beat combos The Mindbenders (Stewart, Gouldman) and The Mockingbirds (Gouldman, Godley).
Members: Graham Gouldman (bass, guitar, vocals), Eric Stewart (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, 1972-95), Lol Creme (vocals, guitar, keyboards, 1972-76, 1992), Kevin Godley (drums, vocals, 1972-76, 1992), Rick Fenn (guitar, 1976-present), Paul Burgess (drums, 1976-77, 1980-present), Duncan Mackay (keyboards, 1978), Tony O’Malley (guitar, 1978), Stuart Tosh (drums, 1978)
The Whirlwinds, The Mockingbirds, The Mindbenders
The four members of 10cc were interconnected since the mid-1960s. Kevin Godley and Lol Creme were childhood buddies. Godley then attended secondary school with Graham Gouldman; the two played at the nearby Jewish Lad’s Brigade.
In 1964, Gouldman played rhythm guitar in the Manchester beat combo The Whirlwinds, which issued the single “Look at Me” (b/w the Creme-penned “Baby Not Like You”) on His Master’s Voice. The following year, they morphed into The Mockingbirds with Godley on drums. They issued five 1965/66 singles, mostly written by Gouldman, including the much-comped Immediate side “You Stole My Love.” Though none were hits, Gouldman did write hits during this period for The Yardbirds (“For Your Love,” “Heart Full of Soul,” “Evil Hearted You”) and The Hollies (“Bus Stop,” “Look Through Any Window”).
In June 1967, Godley reunited with Creme in the folk-psych combo Yellow Bellow Room Boom, which issued the single “Seeing Things Green” (b/w “Easy Life”) on CBS.
Meanwhile, Gouldman issued a solo album, The Graham Gouldman Thing, on RCA Victor in 1968. He briefly joined fellow Mancunian beatsters The Mindbenders, fronted by Eric Stewart. That band had scored a transatlantic chart-topper with “The Game of Love” (1965) and, following the departure of original frontman Wayne Fontana, charted with the Carole Bayer Sager-penned “A Groovy Kind of Love.” They also appeared in the 1967 drama To Sir, with Love, co-starring Scottish singer Lulu. Gouldman penned two late-period Mindbenders a-sides on Fontana: “Schoolgirl” and “Uncle Joe, the Ice Cream Man.”
In mid-1968, Stewart became a partner in Stockport’s Inner City Studios, which soon moved to a larger premises named Strawberry Studios. The following year, Gouldman arrived to cut demos of songs intended for Scottish popsters Marmalade. Now an in-demand songwriter, he too became a financial partner in Strawberry.
Godley and Creme came to Strawberry to cut the single “I’m Beside Myself” (b/w “Animal Song”), released as Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon. Before an album could be completed, the project’s backer (ex-Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky) ran out of funds. Two remaining songs, “Fly Away” and the Gouldman-penned “The Late Mr. Late,” appear on the 1969 various-artists comp Marmalade 100° Proof.
By late 1969, all four future 10cc members were working at Strawberry Studios, where they were visited by the American bubblegum writer-producer team Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz of Super K Productions. The liaison produced “Sausalito,” a minor US hit credited to the Ohio Express. It was actually performed by the proto-10cc lineup with Gouldman on vocals. The four also played on records credited to Crazy Elephant (“There Ain’t No Umbopo”), Fighter Squadron (“When He Comes”), and Silver Fleet (“Come on Plane”), all with lead vocals by Godley.
In 1970, Gouldman flew to New York to take a staff job at Super K Productions. Stewart, Godley, and Creme recorded the song “Neanderthal Man,” which began as an experiment in drum layering. Issued on Fontana under the name Hotlegs (b/w “You Didn’t Like It, Because You Didn’t Think of It“) it hit No. 2 on the UK chart. The project yielded two further singles (“Run Baby Run,” “Desperate Dan”) and the 1971 Philips longplayer, Thinks: School Stinks, which features the 12-minute, three-movement Godley/Creme epic “Suite F.A.” In select markets, the album was retooled as Song with the cut “Today” in lieu of “Neanderthal Man.” It was followed by a fourth, non-album Hotlegs single, “Lady Sadie” (b/w “The Loser”).
Hotlegs adopted a new name, Doctor Father, for the Crazy Elephant remake “Umbopo” (b/w “Roll On”), released in October 1970 on Pye. The single impressed American pop singer Neil Sedaka, who met Gouldman at the Super K offices and learned of the Englishman’s connection to its creators. The trio renamed themselves a third time to The New Wave Band for a cover of Paul Simon’s “Cecilia,” recorded with ex-Herman’s Hermits guitarist Derek “Lek” Leckenby.
In 1971, Hotlegs and a re-situated Gouldman provided musical backing on Space Hymns by Ramases, an acid-folk vocal duo comprised of Barrington Frost (aka Ramases, a name he inherited from the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses) and his wife Dorothy Laflin (aka Selket). The album appeared on Vertigo in a six-fold poster sleeve illustrated by Roger Dean, known at the time for his artwork on album covers by Gun, Nucleus, and Dr. Strangely Strange.
Sedaka arrived at Strawberry in June 1972 to record the album Solitaire, a collection of songs he wrote with Phil Cody. A cover of the title-track became a 1975 Billboard Top 20 hit for The Carpenters. Stewart engineered the album, which features him on lead guitar and backing vocals along with Gouldman (bass), Creme (guitar), and Godley (drums). Sedaka returned in the spring of 1973 to record his followup album, The Tra-La Days Are Over, which contains the original version of “Love Will Keep Us Together,” a later Billboard No. 1 for Captain and Tennille. By the time of the Tra-La sessions, the four studio musicians had formed their own band.
Adopting the name Festival, the four cut a slower version of the Godley–Creme Hotlegs track “Today.” It appeared on a 1972 RCA single, backed with the Gouldman–Stewart composition “Warm Me,” an early example of their layered vocal techniques. Meanwhile, their compositions appeared on Strawberry singles by Garden Odyssey (“The Joker”) and Tristar Airbus (“Willie Morgan”).
They experimented with backward effects on the swelling, harmonized ballad “Waterfall,” which Stewart pitched to Apple Records to no avail. Undeterred, they cut “Donna,” a Godley–Creme fifties doo-wop pastiche released on UK Records, a label run by pop eccentric Jonathan King, the svengali of Genesis during their schoolboy days at Charterhouse, his alma mater. King dubbed the Strawberry foursome 10cc, named after the average amount of semen in an ejaculation.
With its “Oh Darling”-like vocal melody, “Donna” (b/w “Hot Sun Rock”) reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart and fueled the similarly mock-retro “Johnny Don’t Do It,” a spoof on the fifties teen tragedy ballad (b/w “4% of Something…”).
In March 1973, 10cc released the Creme–Godley–Gouldman number “Rubber Bullets,” a perky retro rocker that spoofs lyrical themes from “Jailhouse Rock” to a tune reminiscent of “Help Me, Rhonda” by The Beach Boys. The middle and outro solos have a high-pitched fuzz-tone that Stewart achieved by recording the breaks at half-speed. As a single (b/w “Waterfall”) it reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 3 in Australia.
Their first album, 10cc, appeared on UK Records in July 1973. It features the three pre-released a-sides and two new comedy numbers, “The Dean and I” and “The Hospital Song,” by the Godley–Creme pair, who co-wrote additional songs with Gouldman (“Sand in My Face”) and Stewart (“Fresh Air for My Mama”). The Gouldman–Stewart pair submitted “Ships Don’t Disappear in the Night (Do They?)” and the US a-side “Headline Hustler,” about a shameless yellow journalist.
“The Dean and I,” which opens as a sea shanty and morphs into a surf rock send-up, was issued as their fourth single, backed with the non-album Gouldman–Stewart cut “Bee in My Bonnet.” It reached No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart while the album peaked just within the Top 40.
Stewart engineered 10cc, a collectively self-produced effort. Guitar duties are split between Stewart (lead electric, slide), Creme (acoustic, electric), and Gouldman (Dobro, electric). Keyboards are played by Eric (Moog) and Lol (synthesizer, Mellotron).
Decca illustrator David Anstey designed the 10cc album cover, which presents the nameplate as a clutch of patched, damaged balloon letters with a fuse bomb and squeezed adhesive tube. The back features blue-tinted member closeups by photographer Chris Grayson. Anstey also did cover art for albums by Aardvark, Black Cat Bones, Bloodstone, Caravan, Chicken Shack (Imagination Lady), Galliard (Strange Pleasure), Khan, Mellow Candle (Swaddling Songs), Savoy Brown, Walrus, and World of Oz.
10cc played their first concert on August 26, 1973, at Palace Lido in Douglas on the Isle of Man. They toured England during the late-summer and autumn with drummer Paul Burgess, an ongoing tour member. They mimed “Rubber Bullets” on the Christmas edition of Top of the Pops. On December 28, 1973, they played the Top Rank Suite in Liverpool, supported by newcomers Queen.
1974: Sheet Music
10cc recorded their second album in January 1974 at Strawberry. The first fruit was “The Worst Band in the World,” a self-mocking Creme–Gouldman cut backed with the group-written “18 Carat Man of Means.”
The a-side appears on Sheet Music, released in May 1974 on UK Records (UK, Germany, US, Oceania), Decca (Netherlands), and Mercury (Canada). It features ten songs by the pairings of Godley–Creme (“Hotel,” “Old Wild Men,” “Clockwork Creep,” “Somewhere in Hollywood”), Gouldman–Stewart (“The Wall Street Shuffle,” “Baron Samedi”), Creme–Stewart (“Silly Love”), Godley–Gouldman (“The Sacro-Iliac”), and Godley–Stewart (“Oh Effendi”).
10cc produced Sheet Music during off hours at Strawberry, also the site of 1974 recordings by Oscar and Mike McGear (aka Mike McCartney), whose second solo album, McGear, was produced during daytime hours by his brother Paul, who lent Godley his drum kit for the Sheet Music sessions.
Sheet Music is the first of six 10cc albums with cover art by the post-psych design firm Hipgnosis. It has the group pictured in a balloon-strewn party room where Godley (standing afar) sports a blue trench coat. The photo is framed with yellow sheeting that Creme pulls into the picture from the left side. The back cover has a monochrome pic (same room) in which Stewart holds a yellow tracklist and credit sheet before the lens.
“The Wall Street Shuffle” was lifted with the non-album instrumental “Gismo My Way,” a group-credited exotica piece that demonstrates the Gizmotron, a guitar-attachment device that lets the strings resonate synth-like tones. The single reached No. 10 in the UK, No. 2 in the Netherlands, and No. 4 in Belgium. (In 1975, Godley and Creme patented the Gizmo, which was commercially manufactured from 1979–81 by Musitronics.)
Sheet Music reached No. 9 on the UK Albums Chart. A third single, “Silly Love,” reached No. 7 in the Netherlands.
In advance of the album’s release, 10cc embarked on a seven-week US tour that included a March 29 show at the Sunshine Inn in Asbury Park, NJ, with Renaissance. During a May round of UK release tie-ins, they mimed “The Wall Street Shuffle” on the 5/30/74 broadcast of TotP. In June, they did another US tour with Robin Trower and Slade.
On August 23, 1974, 10cc appeared at Little John’s Farm in Reading for the 14th National Jazz, Blues & Rock Festival, a three-day event with sets by Barclay James Harvest, Chapman–Whitney, Chilli Willi & the Red Hot Peppers, Esperanto, Focus, Gary Farr, Greenslade, Heavy Metal Kids, Jack the Lad, JSD Band, Procol Harum, Strider, Thin Lizzy, Trapeze, and The Winkies. 10cc played the opening day (Friday) along with Beckett, Camel, Nutz, and the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.
In September, 10cc mimed “Silly Love” on the 9/8/74 TotP broadcast and appeared on one of the final installments of Lift Off With Ayshea, an ITV music program hosted by Ayshea Brough.
Despite their success, 10cc were broke and desperate to free themselves of King, whose label was losing money. As they finished touches on their third album, Mercury–Phonogram signed the band and bought out King’s contract on the strength of one new song.
1975: The Original Soundtrack
10cc released their third album, The Original Soundtrack, in March 1975 on Mercury. It features three Godley–Creme numbers: the three-part cabaret suit “Une Nuit a Paris,” the ethereal “Brand New Day” (a “Somewhere in Hollywood” offspring), and the Italian-style fifties ballad “The Film of My Love.”
Gouldman–Stewart composed “Blackmail,” “Flying Junk,” and the ‘choir of angels’ ballad “I’m Not in Love,” the song that convinced Phonogram execs to sign the band. Side two begins with the jerky, group-written riff rocker “The Second Sitting for the Last Supper” and offers comedy relief with the Creme–Stewart number “Life Is a Minestrone.”
Stewart engineered The Original Soundtrack during winter 1974–75 at Strawberry. To achieve the layered choral vocals on “I’m Not In Love,” he recorded the others singing “aaah” 16 times in each note. The synth-like lushness is largely down to the looped vocal layers. The song features scant instrumentation apart from Stewart’s Fender Rhodes electric piano and Creme’s light grand piano, heard during the whispered “big boys don’t cry section,” performed by Strawberry secretary Kathy Redfern.
The Hipgnosis gatefold shows a grayscale assemblage of vintage recording and filming equipment (reels, tapes, lenses, gloves) and a small-screen image of a Western cowboy character, penciled by Humphrey Ocean, formerly the bassist of Kilburn & the High Roads (pre-record). Thematically, the image invokes the lyrics to “The Film of My Love” and the painstaking process behind “I’m Not In Love.” The inner-gates show a more compact recording arsenal with a group photo and a long strip of tape.
Mercury lifted “Life Is a Minestrone” as the first single, backed with the non-album Godley–Gouldman track “Channel Swimmer.” It reached No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 12 in the Netherlands.
By popular demand, Mercury issued “I’m Not In Love” as a single in May 1975, backed with the non-album Godley–Creme track “Good News.” Though initially released to radio in edited form, stations started playing the full album-length version once the song became a hit. It reached No. 1 in the UK, Ireland, and Canada and made the Top 5 in eight other countries. “I’m Not In Love” was their breakthrough on the US Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at No. 2 behind “Jive Talkin'” by the Bee Gees.
The Original Soundtrack reached No. 3 on the UK Albums Chart, No. 5 on Canada’s RPM chart, No. 9 on Australia’s Kent Music Report, and No. 15 on the Billboard 200.
10cc promoted The Original Soundtrack on a March–May 1975 UK tour with funk-rockers Fancy. On July 12, they played Cardiff Castle as part of a multi-act bill with Steeleye Span, Man, and Thin Lizzy. In late October, they embarked on a six-week North American tour that included shows with Hello People and Free Beer (11/2/75: Tomorrow, Youngstown, Ohio) and Rory Gallagher (12/5/5: Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, Penn.).
On November 21, as a taster of 10cc’s upcoming new album, Mercury issued “Art for Art’s Sake” backed with “Get It While You Can,” both by the Gouldman–Stewart team. It reached No. 5 in the UK, No. 4 in Ireland, and No. 6 in New Zealand. The hookline “Art for art’s sake, money for God’s sake” was an oft-used idiom by Graham’s father, Hymie Gouldman.
1976: How Dare You!
10cc released their fourth album, How Dare You!, in January 1976 on Mercury. It opens with two Godley–Creme tracks: “How Dare You,” a rattling instrumental that segues into “Lazy Ways,” a windy, flowing number with layered acoustics, airy vocals, and flowing piano. They collaborated with Gouldman on “I Wanna Rule the World,” a bolero-cum-nursery rhyme. Gouldman and Godley co-wrote another idiom bender, “Iceberg,” which veers between crashing tritones and jazzy acoustic verses; the ending appropriates a motif from the Space Hymns track “Life Child.” Godley also teamed with Gouldman–Stewart on “I’m Mandy Fly Me,” which travels through laid-back, airy verses and swelling, layered strum sequences.
Side two hears 10cc divide into two camps. Gouldman–Stewart wrote the first two numbers: the pre-released “Art for Art’s Sake” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Lullaby.” Godley–Creme wrote the two closing cuts: “Head Room” and “Don’t Hang Up.”
Stewart engineered How Dare You! in succession with A Taste of Tyke, the first of two albums by the Sheffield pop trio Tyke, an occasional backing act to sixties crooner Dave Berry. This would be the last 10cc album recorded at the now-overbooked Stockport Strawberry facility, the recording site of 1976 albums by Barclay James Harvest (Octoberon), the Bay City Rollers, and the Noel Redding Band.
“I’m Mandy Fly Me” was lifted as the second single in March 1976, backed with the album’s title track. Lyrically, it retells a plane crash through a passenger’s dream sequence. The title was based on a National Airlines ad in which a smiling stewardess is accompanied by the suggestive sales line “I’m Cheryl. Fly Me.” On the album, a transistor radio snippet of 10cc’s prior aerial disaster song, “Clockwork Creek,” segues into “I’m Mandy Fly Me.” The single reached No. 6 in the UK and No. 3 in Ireland.
How Dare You! is housed in a gatefold conceived by Hipgnosis graphic illustrator George Hardie. The photographs, by Howard Bartrop, show vignettes where the title phrase is used over the phone between an arguing married couple (front), a pair of sleuths (back), and a room-full of people, each corresponding with mixed expressions via landlines to unseen third parties (inner-gates). Hardie also designed covers for Al Stewart (Past, Present and Future), Be-Bop Deluxe (Futurama), Genesis (The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway), Led Zeppelin (II), and Pink Floyd (The Dark Side of the Moon). Bartrop’s photography appears on albums by Floyd (Wish You Were Here, Animals), Golden Earring (To the Hilt), Hydra, and String Driven Thing.
How Dare You! reached No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 1 in New Zealand. It also went Top 10 on the Dutch, Norwegian, and Swedish album charts. 10cc promoted the album with winter–spring tours of the UK (February) and the Continent (April).
“Art for Art’s Sake” appears on Solid Gold Dynamite (20 Original Hits), a 1976 compilation on New Zealand’s Music for Leisure label with cuts by Billy Ocean, Electric Light Orchestra, Jigsaw, Nazareth, Sailor (“Glass of Champagne”), Skyhooks, Split Enz (“Late Last Night”), and Tina Charles.
On May 22, 10cc appeared at the Sportpark Brasserkade stadium in Delft, Netherlands, for OOR Popfestival 1976, which also featured sets by Alquin and Gentle Giant. On August 21, they played to a crowd of 200,000 at the 1976 Knebworth Festival, which also features sets by The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Todd Rundgren‘s Utopia.
Godley and Creme Leave 10cc
As 10cc commenced sessions for a new album in October 1976, Godley and Creme got sidetracked with an instrumental project centered on the Gizmotron. Creme used the device on Sold Out, a 1975 album by Mike McGear’s Scaffold. More recently, he used it on the sessions for two tracks (“Flight 19,” “Initial Speed”) that would ultimately appear on Listen Now, the 1977 second solo album by Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera.
The gizmo project expanded in scope, leaving Godley and Creme little time to focus simultaneously on a new 10cc album. This, coupled with their growing disenchantment with Gouldman and Stewart’s new material, prompted the pair’s exit from 10cc in late 1976. Their gizmo project ultimately grew into Consequences, a triple-album of sound effects, spoken-word dialogue, comedy, and select vocal numbers, including an appearance by fifties jazz singer Sarah Vaughn. It appeared as a box set on Mercury in late 1977.
Godley and Creme proceeded with the 1978/79 experimental art-pop albums L and Freeze Frame. They scored hits with “An Englishman in New York,” “Wedding Bells,” “Under Your Thumb,” and the 1985 transatlantic smash “Cry.” Concurrently, they branched into video production, directing clips for Visage, Duran Duran, Asia, Herbie Hancock, The Police, Culture Club, Yes, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
Gouldman and Stewart were initially shocked by the exit, given 10cc’s recent global success. The two pairs were estranged for some time, which caused awkwardness between Stewart and Creme who, as brothers-in-law, had to see each other at family functions. Nonetheless, Gouldman and Stewart were eager to prove that 10cc could survive the walkout.
“The Things We Do for Love”
On December 3, 1976, 10cc (jokingly referred to at this stage as 5cc) released their first post-split single: “The Things We Do for Love,” a mix of Tin Pan Alley piano pop and harmonized blue-eyed soul. With its airy, open-cadence intro; tight, angular verses; melodic singalong bridge; and Hall & Oates vibe, the song reached No. 1 in Canada, No. 2 in Ireland, No. 4 on the Cash Box Top 100, No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Australian Kent Music Report, and No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart.
Gouldman and Stewart performed the song and its b-side, “Too Hot to Trot,” with longtime tour drummer Paul Burgess, who subsequently became a full-fledged member. They finished the album as a trio at the newly built Strawberry South Studio in Dorking, Surrey.
1977: Deceptive Bends
10cc released their fifth album, Deceptive Bends, in May 1977 on Mercury. It opens with “Good Morning Judge,” a wry outlaw boogie released weeks earlier as the album’s second single. Its closing up-slide fades to the opening “aahs” of “The Things We Do for Love,” by now their second most recognized song. The album proceeds with seven new Gouldman–Stewart originals, including the twangy ballad “Marriage Bureau Rendezvous” and the airy, spacious “People in Love,” issued months later as a third single.
Side one closes with “Modern Man Blues,” a gritty R&B rocker where a freewheeling, hard-headed man discovers (to his delight) that his old lady has blown the coop. It cuts between slow 12-bar verses, jerky refrains (“Said she’s never never comin’ back”) and a rockier, harmonized bridge with barroom piano. The song has no chorus. Musically, it appropriates Streetwalkers-style hard-rock/blues to 10cc’s unorthodox song formatting.
Side two opens with “Honeymoon with B Troop,” a perky, piano-thumping musical hall number with whimsical lyrics and abrupt, unexpected turns, including a martial “bloody jamboree,” a dreamy “here comes the bride” passage, and a crying guitar outro. “I Bought a Flat Guitar Tutor” is a Hawaiian ragtime ditty with lyrical puns about key changes. “You’ve Got a Cold” is a comedic funk-boogie about the common seasonal virus; Gouldman’s fuzz bass approximates a greasy Clavinet sound (the ‘runny nose’ effect) on the chorus.
Deceptive Bends climaxes with “Feel the Benefit,” an 11:32 epic divided into three parts:
I. “Reminisce and Speculate” begins with a picked guitar figure reminiscent of “Dear Prudence” by The Beatles. Open-cadence string accents herald the song proper where Stewart bemoans aimless pursuits over a shifting bass–piano pattern. It swells into a minor key refrain (“If all the people in the word lost there reason”) with airy, string-laden textures. Gouldman sings the stripped piano bridge in a CB radio tone. A sequence of instrumental passages lead to…
II. “A Latin Break” — a harmonized strumalong with Latin percussion and a tight, interlocking guitar refrain (in C). This part adds reggae elements on the second verse. A shifting variation of the guitar refrain gives way to…
III. “Feel the Benefit” — a reprise of part I. A final repetition of the verse and refrain wrap with a swelling, climactic outro of lyrical guitar leads that build intensity to an abrupt cut.
Stewart engineered Deceptive Bends with budding soundman Tony Spath, who worked on the Strawberry North recording Blowin’ by the Noel Redding Band. Spath plays oboe on “Modern Man Blues” and piano on “I Bought a Flat Guitar Tutor.” Keyboardist Jean Roussel (Juicy Lucy, Hanson) plays organ and electric piano on “You’ve Got a Cold.”
Orchestral arranger Del Newman conducted strings on “People In Love” and “Feel the Benefit.” He also did arrangements on 1976/77 albums by Brian Protheroe (I/You), Chris de Burgh, Colin Blunstone, Diana Ross (Baby It’s You), and Rod Stewart.
Gouldman, Stewart, and Burgess handled all remaining instrumentation. Apart from drums and percussion, Burgess plays ‘wah piano’ on “Good Morning Judge” and vibraphone on “Honeymoon with B Troop.”
Deceptive Bends sports 10cc’s fourth Hipgnosis cover and third gatefold. It shows a porthole view of three divers in vintage metal helmets. Two are boarding a dock where a third stands at the foreground holding an unconscious woman in a red slit dress. On the back, two helmet-less foreground divers are revealed as Gouldman and Stewart while a helmeted third (background) presumably represents Burgess, whose creative role was still peripheral. On the inner-gates, Gouldman and Stewart stare through their helmets with the face plates off. The inner-sleeve features lyrics and spherical psych-Deco illustrations. Hardie designed the cover along with 1977 album visuals for the Alan Parsons Project (I Robot), Brand X (Moroccan Roll), and Yes (Going for the One). Airbrush illustrator Richard Manning (Black Sabbath, Montrose) is credited with photo touch-ups.
“Good Morning Judge” appeared as a single in April 1977, backed with the non-album “Don’t Squeeze Me Like Toothpaste.” In the video, Stewart plays the nonchalant felon who enjoys his sentence. Him and Gouldman portray guitar-dueling courtroom characters on the interlocking break. It reached No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart for the week of May 22, 1977, and remained in the Top 10 amid singles by The Jacksons and Carole Bayer Sager during the controversial week of June 5, when Rod Stewart’s cover of the early Cat Stevens song “The First Cut Is the Deepest” (a 1967 hit for soul singer PP Arnold) held No. 1 over a non-listed No. 2, “God Save the Queen,” a Silver Jubilee protest by the Sex Pistols, whose single was widely reported by retailers as the week’s highest selling release.
Mercury lifted “People In Love” as a third single in July, backed with “I’m So Laid Back I’m Laid Out.” It reached No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Deceptive Bends reached No. 3 on the UK Albums Chart and peaked at No. 4 in the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and New Zealand. It only reached No. 8 in Australia but placed at No. 9 on the year-end Kent Music Report of 1977. Canadian pressings appeared on Philips with mint porthole walls. The album’s title refers to a passage of the A24 thoroughfare between Leatherhead and Dorking.
“Good Morning Judge” appears on 20 Solid Gold Hits Volume 17, a 1977 Music for Leisure comp with cuts by Bryan Ferry, Cliff Richard (“My Kinda Life”), Heatwave (“Boogie Nights”), Little River Band, Marshall Tucker Band, Rose Royce (“I Wanna Get Next to You”), Steve Miller, and The Sylvers.
Live and Let Live
10cc grew to a sextet with keyboardist Tony O’Malley, second drummer Stuart Tosh, and guitarist–singer Rick Fenn.
O’Malley cut two albums with funk-rockers Kokomo and played on one track (“Fading Star”) on the 1975 Rocket Records release King Brilliant by Howard Werth & the Moonbeams, led by the onetime Audience frontman.
Tosh played on the first three albums by Scottish popsters Pilot, including their Alan Parsons-produced hits “Magic” and “January.” He also drummed on Roger Daltery‘s 1977 third solo album One of the Boys and the first two albums by Parsons’ Project: Tales of Mystery and Imagination and I Robot.
Fenn played in the unsigned Gentlemen, one of three hopefuls — along with the Sex Pistols and the Bowles Brothers Band — featured on Show 9 of the Granada Television program So It Goes, aired August 28, 1976. Gentlemen performed “My Ego’s Killing Me,” an exuberant number with galloping precision, stop-start bars, Queen-like harmonized refrains, Squire-like bass runs, Manfred-esque synth fills, and theatrical vocals. In the clip, Rick intersperses slick chromatic chords with scaly licks and jazzy legato runs. During one break, he and the bassist trade fingering hands. As presenter Tony Wilson announces Gentlemen, a lick from “The Worst Band In the World” plays in the background.
The expanded 10cc promoted Deceptive Bends with a spring–summer 1977 UK tour that commenced with a May 27–28 engagement at Glasgow’s Apollo Theatre. On June dates in Stafford, Manchester, Cardiff, and Southampton, their opening act was veteran Belfast folkster David McWilliams, whose self-titled seventh album recently appeared on EMI. 10cc wrapped the English leg with a June 18–20 showcase at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, followed weeks later by a July 16–17 engagement at Manchester’s Apollo. Subsequent legs covered Australia (September), Japan (October), and Germany (December).
In late 1977, Mercury issued Live and Let Live, a double album comprised of numbers from the Hammersmith and Apollo shows. It features renditions of eight songs from Deceptive Bends (everything but “I Bought a Flat Guitar Tutor”) and five earlier Gouldman–Stewart numbers: “Art for Art’s Sake,” “Wall Street Shuffle,” “Ship’s Don’t Disappear In the Night (Do They?),” “Waterfall,” and “I’m Not In Love.” Only two numbers — “I’m Mandy Fly Me,” a three-way write with Godley; and “The Second Sitting for the Last Supper,” group-written by the original quartet — contain any writing input from Godley and Creme.
Live and Let Live was recorded with the Island Mobile Studio by Phil Ault, who produced the 1975 debut album by Nasty Pop and engineered their recent followup, Mistaken ID. He also worked on 1974–77 albums by Camel (Mirage), Caravan (Blind Dog at St. Dunstans), Deaf School (2nd Honeymoon), Dog Soldier (self-titled), and Joan Armatrading. The concert sound engineer was Keith Bessey, who worked on the 1975 album Lady Madonna by the female rock quartet Mother Superior.
Live and Let Live lists three mixdown assistants: Spath, David Rohl, and Richard Scott. Rohl, a noted Egyptologist, wrote and arranged the 1975 concept album Mandalaband, performed by a namesake band of Mancunian musicians who broke off and formed Sad Café, whose first album, Fax Ta Ra, appeared earlier in 1977 on RCA. Scott was an assistant engineer at Strawberry North who recently worked on Gone to Earth, the eighth studio album (ninth overall) by Barclay James Harvest.
10cc retained its new six-piece lineup apart from O’Malley, who cleared out for keyboardist Duncan Mackay, who played on I Robot and released two solo albums, including the 1977 EMI title Score. He just finished a three-album stint with Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel.
1978: Bloody Tourists
In July 1978, 10cc returned with “Dreadlock Holiday,” a reggae–funk song with wry lyrics about the awkward and sometimes terse Caribbean experiences of Gouldman (in Jamaica) and Stewart (in Barbados). Its exclusive b-side, the mid-tempo “Nothing Can Move Me,” is a slide-lick boogie (in C minor). The single reached No. 1 in the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, and New Zealand. It peaked at No. 2 in Australia and Ireland and also made the Top 10 in Switzerland and Norway.
10cc released their sixth studio album, Bloody Tourists, in September 1978 on Mercury. It opens to the vibes of “Dreadlock Holiday” and contains three additional Gouldman–Stewart numbers: the lush ballad “For You and I,” the churning rocker “Take These Chains,” and “The Anonymous Alcoholic,” a dirgy blues about a relapsed drunk who makes a disco-floor pass on his boss’s wife.
Stewart lone-wrote the ethereal “Tokyo” and two sexually charged songs: “Shock on the Tube (Don’t Want Love),” about a daydreamer who finds himself in a whirlwind encounter; and “Everything You’ve Wanted to Know About!!!”, which charts a callow thrill-seekers attempts with a local good-time girl. He collaborated with Tosh on “Reds in My Bed,” a nervous Cold War drama about a Western detainees’ escape from the Kremlin.
Gouldman submitted the hazy island ballad “Life Line” and the tropical strumalong “From Rochdale to Ocho Rios,” about traveling from England to Jamaica. He collaborated on songs with Fenn (“Last Night,” about sexual misgivings) and Mackay (“Old Mister Time”).
Gouldman and Stewart co-produced Bloody Tourists at Strawberry South. It was engineered by Bessey and Spath and mastered by Melvyn Abrahams, a technician on titles by Golden Earring (Contraband), Greenslade (Bedside Manners Are Extra), Jethro Tull (War Child), Leo Sayer (Silverbird), Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Rich Kids, Status Quo, and The Who (Tommy).
Hardie designed the Bloody Tourists gatefold, which shows a Caribbean tourist with a map (of Martinique, Lesser Antilles) blown on his face. The inner-gates have a monochrome image of a jet-lagged 10cc at a terminal drawing colored lines in the air, apparently trying to piece together their travel route. This cover marks the first use of their star zero logo that would reappear on future media.
Mercury lifted “Reds in My Bed” as a second single (b/w “Take These Chains”). “For You and I” appears in the 1978 romantic drama Moment by Moment starring John Travolta and Lily Tomlin.
Bloody Tourists reached No. 3 on the UK Albums Chart and matched that position in Australia and Sweden. It peaked at No. 2 in New Zealand and the Netherlands and No. 4 in Norway. 10cc kicked off the Bloody Tourists Tour on August 26, 1978, at Johanneshov Isstadion in Stockholm. The tour covered the UK (September) and North America (October–December). US dates featured support by Columbia pop-rockers the Reggie Knighton Band.
Side Work, Soundtracks
Gouldman and Stewart are among the fifteen vocalists on The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies, the 1978 second album by Mandalaband. Gouldman sings lead on “Elsethea,” which features backing vocals by Godley and Creme. Gouldman plays bass on that track and “Silesandre,” sung by Sad Café vocalist Paul Young. Stewart sings lead on “Florian’s Song.” Prophecies also features lead vocals by Godley (“Witch of Waldow Wood”) and Moody Blues frontman Justin Hayward (“Dawn of a New Day”).
(Years earlier, Stewart recorded demos of Rohl’s unsigned pre-Mandalaband project Ankh. In 1976, Rohl became chief engineer at Strawberry, Stockport, after Stewart set up the namesake Dorking facility.)
Mackay played on 1978 albums by Cliff Richard (Green Light), APP (Pyramid), and Kate Bush, whose first two albums (The Kick Inside, Lionheart) appeared that year on EMI. He retained ties with Harley for the singer’s debut solo album, Hobo With a Grin. Burgess backed Mancunian punk poet John Cooper Clarke on the 1978 CBS release Disguise in Love, a Martin Hannett production with guitar work by Bill Nelson and the Buzzcocks‘ Pete Shelley.
10cc suffered a setback in January 1979 when Stewart was injured in a car accident that damaged his left ear and eye and left him waylaid for six months. Upon recovery, he produced and engineered Facades, the third album by Sad Café with the UK No. 3 hit “Every Day Hurts.”
As Stewart convalesced, Gouldman recorded “Sunburn,” the theme to the 1979 detective comedy starring Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Charles Grodin, and Joan Collins. The theme — a tropical rocker with echoes of “Take These Chains” and “Ocho Rios” — appeared as a Gouldman solo single with the exclusive funk-boogie b-side “Think About It.” With the rest of 10cc (sans Stewart), he recorded the soundtrack to Animalympics, an animated film by director Steven Lisberger (Tron) slated for the US NBC network as a tie-in with the 1980 winter and summer Olympic Games. The soundtrack appeared on Mercury (A&M in the US) as a Gouldman solo album.
10cc commenced work on a new album at Strawberry South in August 1979. Stewart simultaneously recorded the soundtrack to Girls, a French–Canadian coming-of-age drama. Mackay backed him on the whole soundtrack, which appeared as a Stewart solo album in 1980 on Polydor with backing on select tracks by other 10cc members.
1980: Look Hear
10cc released their seventh studio album, Look Hear, on March 28, 1980, on Mercury. The Gouldman–Stewart team wrote the swamp-rock/boogie opener, “One-Two-Five,” titled after the disco tempo of 125 beats per minute. They also co-wrote the bulk of side two, including “Lovers Anonymous,” “Dressed to Kill,” “Strange Lover,” and “L.A. Inflatable.”
Independently, Gouldman submitted two songs inspired by his recent divorce: “I Hate to Eat Alone” and “How’m I Ever Gonna Say Goodbye,” a Fenn co-write with no involvement from Stewart, who lone-wrote “I Took You Home.”
Fenn contributed “Don’t Send We Back” and co-wrote “Welcome to the World” with Mackay, who plays Yamaha CS80 synthesizer, Hohner Clavinet duo, harpsichord, vocoder, and tubular bells on the album, in addition to organ, electric piano, and grand piano.
Look Hear is housed in a single sleeve with the words ARE YOU HERE in bold all-caps and a tiny photo of a sheep on a chaise longue at the beach. The name and title appear inconspicuously on small, diagonal red–yellow strips across the upper-right. The bold theme continues on the back cover (THE GROUP, with a medium lineup pic) and the LP labels for side one (ARE YOU READY) and side two (ARE YOU DONE). Original copies include a poster of the sheep photo, captioned with “ARE YOU HERE.”
Due to the prominence of “ARE YOU” phrases over the title, many buyers mistook the name of the album as Are You Here? In the US, Look Hear appeared on Warner Bros. with the Hardie letter design replaced by a zoom-in of the sheep photo. The title puns the direct command “look here” with the homonym “hear,” effectively stating the indirect double-command “look and hear.”
Mercury lifted “One-Two-Five” as a single, backed with the non-album Gouldman–Stewart number “Only Child.” It reached No. 9 on the Norwegian VG-lista. In May, they issued the Stewart-sung reggae ballad “It Doesn’t Matter at All” as a second single, backed with the Bloody Tourists track “From Rochdale to Ocho Rios.”
Look Hear reached No. 3 in Norway, No. 14 in Sweden, and No. 21 on the Dutch albums chart.
- 10cc (1973)
- Sheet Music (1974)
- The Original Soundtrack (1975)
- How Dare You! (1976)
- Deceptive Bends (1977)
- Bloody Tourists (1978)
- Look Hear? (1980)
- Ten Out of 10 (1981)
- Windows in the Jungle (1983)
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