April 11, 1997 GOLDMINE #436

10cc : A Pure Injection Of Pop

By Dave Thompson


Chapter Two : Graham Gouldman in Wrong Studio Revelation!!!


Meanwhile, back in the singles chart, the band was busy hunting for the follow-up which would confirm their ascendancy. They found it in Clint Ballard’s The Game Of Love. This time, it was Baverstock who introduced the song to the band, but the ensuing session was just as memorable as its predecessor. The band had already recruited a member of the Spinners folk group to handle the bass vocals on the song; at the very last minute, they would also recruit the next best thing to a Jimmy Page guitar solo… Jimmy Page’s guitar. The teenaged Page, already one of Britain’s most successful session musicians, was working at the same studio, and when Eric Stewart asked if he could try Page’s trademark Les Paul custom guitar sometime, Page handed it over on the spot, saying “Why don’t you just play it on your recording?”

Another memorable moment was recording the single’s B-side, Since You’ve Been Gone. “That was one of the first songs we ever wrote together,” Stewart recalled; in fact, it was written in a London hotel room the night before the session. “We were becoming wise at that point to the fact that there was money to be made from writing B-sides.”

The Game Of Love proved one of the biggest hits of the year, #2 in Britain, it made it all the way to the top in America, and that despite the record not only being the Mindbenders’ first Stateside release, it was also one of the first releases on the American Fontana label.

The band set off for America almost immediately, and ran straight into trouble. Visa difficulties had forced the band to cancel a couple of shows at the start of the tour – immigration officials actually demanded statements from both Billboard and Cashbox to prove that the band’s Stateside success actually justified their presence here. Then, the moment they stepped off the plane, the Mindbenders were handed writs for $1 million each. They were being sued for not making two gigs in New Jersey. Thankfully, the threat came to nothing, and the remainder of the tour passed happily. A new version of their debut album, featuring several cuts not on the UK album, was released, making a respectable #28. Unfortunately, the moment the band’s back was turned, their fortunes began to dip. Their next single, Just A Little Bit Too Late, only reached #45 in the US (and #20 in Britain), and when She Needs Love halted at #32 in the UK, at the same time as their second album, Eric, Rick Wayne and Bob, stiffed, it appeared as though the Mindbenders’ magic had dissipated already. Certainly Wayne Fontana, the band’s record label and their management, Kennedy Street Enterprises, thought so. The singer had always entertained visions of eventually graduating to a solo career, and in October, 1965, everybody concerned realized the time had come; everybody that is aside from the other members of the band. They remained in the dark until, midway through a live show, Fontana simply walked off stage, turning to Stewart as he left and saying “It’s all yours.”

It was not the first time the band had played on without their frontman; back in March, nervous exhaustion had confined Fontana to bed, midway through a 21 date, twice nightly British tour with Herman’s Hermits. So, with Stewart taking lead vocals, the band finished the set themselves; the audience seemed to enjoy themselves, and the decision was made to carry on as a three piece, which was precisely what their label and management had been planning all along. Fontana (the label) had already handed Fontana (the singer) a solo contract; now they were offering the Mindbenders one of their own, and with it what Jack Baverstock regarded as a sure fire hit A Groovy Kind Of Love, as their first single. He was right, as well. Disastrous couplets notwithstanding, A Groovy Kind Of Love repeated the showing of the band’s last big hit Game Of Love; #2 in Britain, #1 in America.

Once again, the race was on for a suitable follow-up. And once again, they lost it. An eponymous album totally failed to capitalize on the single’s success, floundering to a lowly #92, while a new Carole Bayer-Toni Wine composition Ashes To Ashes scarcely improved on that in the singles’ listings. It made #55, although Fontana did still try to capitalize on it, repressing the Groovy Kind Of Love album with Ashes To Ashes replacing Don’t Cry No More. (Later in the year, of course, Ashes To Ashes would hit #14 in Britain, but only after the vaguely Spectorish Can’t Live With You (Can’t Live Without You) had struggled to break the Top 30.

The Mindbenders made their final American tour in July, 1966, kicking off in Atlanta on Independence Day, in front of a capacity 25,000 crowd. It was a shame they were only the opening band… James Brown was the headliner, and while Stewart remembered, “we went down quite well,” a more memorable show came when the Mindbenders played the Fillmore West, later in the tour. “The liquid light show was great and really worked with our act, which was a lot heavier than on our records.”

Meanwhile, Wayne Fontana was finally gearing up to make the splash he had been threatening for almost a year now. Three solo singles released through 1966, It Was Easier To Hurt Her, Come On Home and Goodbye Bluebird had done little more than lurch around the lower reaches of the chart. His fourth, he believed, would change all that forever. IT was called Pamela Pamela and it was written by Graham Gouldman. How could it fail? Eighteen months before, nobody could have asked that question. In mid-1964, Gouldman had been just another struggling musician, watching agape as the Mindbenders prepared to soar into the stratosphere. Together with two school friends, Kevin Godley and Lawrence “Lol” Creme, the guitar-playing Gouldman had been trying to break into the music business since 1963 with his own first band, the Whirlwinds, playing the same Jewish Alliance Brigade circuit as bassist Godley and guitarist Creme’s Sabres. Gouldman was a great guitarist, but in spite of his later fame, at this point he had barely dreamed of writing songs, indeed, when the Whirlwinds landed a one-off single deal with the HMV label, it was to the 16 year old Creme that he turned for the B-side, Baby, Not Like Me. The A-side was the Buddy Holly song, Look At Me. Despite being recorded at Abbey Road Studios, then the home of the most innovative pop music in the world, neither side broke new ground – “probably because we were in Studio Two” laughs Gouldman. “The Beatles got Studio Three”.

Look At Me adhered closely to Holly’s prototype, with a casual nod to the Stones, who had just made the Top 3 with another Holly song Not Fade Away. Creme’s effort, despite a great Gouldman guitar solo, was very much in the mould of countless Beatles-influenced lightweight R&B numbers. It didn’t chart, and the Whirlwinds broke up shortly after. By late 1964, Gouldman had begun writing his own material, and was soon looking to put together another band to play it. Retaining bassist Bernard Basso and guitarist Steve Jacobsen from the Whirlwinds, and plucking Kevin Godley (who had conveniently switched from bass to drums) from the recently shattered Sabres, Gouldman formed the Mockingbirds, perhaps the greatest Should Have But Didn’t band of the mid 1960s. Signing to Columbia, the Mockingbirds announced their debut single would be For Your Love, a song Gouldman wrote in the changing room of the men’s clothing shop where he worked. Columbia, however, had other ideas; they rejected it in favour of another Gouldman original, taped on the same day, That’s How It’s Gonna Stay – only for the song to resurface, on the same label, two months later, courtesy of the Yardbirds. Gouldman hand-delivered the song to the band himself.

“Our manager, Harvey Lisberg, said ‘This is such a great song, let’s play it to the Beatles’ but I said ‘I think they’re doing alright in the songwriting department, actually.” But he still mentioned the Beatles idea to a publisher friend, who suggested that instead he should offer it to the Yardbirds, who were playing with the Beatles at a Christmas show at the Hammersmith Odeon”

Having wrangled his way nervously backstage, he handed the song to the first Londoner he met. It was Paul Samwell-Smith, and the rest… how Eric Clapton was so outraged by the song’s commerciality that he quit the band; how the ensuing recording session  was keyboard legend Brian Auger’s recorded debut; that the finished record became the Yardbirds’ first ever Top 3 hit… is history.

“Their version took me by surprise, because I thought it was so weird,” Gouldman remembers. “Ours used an acoustic guitar instead of a harpsichord, which was what really made their version work. It was amazing. It was fantastic having such an entry into the Yardbirds [as For Your Love]; they did try things, and even though they sort of failed, they did stick with it. The first time I saw them was with Eric Clapton, and that blew my head off, but then I saw them with Jeff Beck, and that was unbelievable; he was better, he looked better, I liked the guitar he used better.”



Chapter 1

Eric Stewart In Air Gun Revelation!!!

Chapter 2

Graham Gouldman In Wrong Studio Revelation!!!

Chapter 3

Graham Gouldman In Songwriting Technique Exposé!!!

Chapter 4

The Runcible Spoon… What Exactly Is It?

Chapter 5

Strawberry Puts The ‘Hit’ In ‘Shit’!!!

Chapter 6

So That’s How They Got The Name…

Chapter 7

A Million Dollars Buys A Lot Of Loyalty!!!

Chapter 8

Strawberry Studios South… Now You’re Dorking!!!

Chapter 9

I Said ‘You’ve Got To Be Joking Man, It Was A Present From Me Mum’!!!!

Chapter 10

Headline Writer In ‘Stuck For Words’ Shock!!!

Chapter 11

Sometimes Having Wax In Your Ears Can Be A Good Thing

Chapter 12

And They Still Don’t Give A…