April 11, 1997 GOLDMINE #436

10cc : A Pure Injection Of Pop

Original Article By Dave Thompson


Chapter Seven : A Million Dollars Buys A Lot Of Loyalty!!!


Sheet Music, perhaps the most widely adventurous album of what would become a wildly adventurous year, would more than justify that claim. First however, there was another hiccup to surmount; the band’s first single of 1974 was The Worst Band In The World, once again released at Jonathan King’s insistence. And, for once, he was wrong. As was so often the case with 10cc singles, initial airplay was minimal, but when Top Of The Pops also proved hesitant, the release was doomed. The problem this time was the use of the phrase “up yours” in the chorus, and a couplet in the first verse (the first line!) which rhymed “admit” with “we don’t give a ****”. An edited version was hurriedly produced, but it was too late. The Worst Band In The World flopped, and that despite boasting a B-side, 18 Carat Man Of Means, which might well have been an A-side in its own right. Still, the offending song did make it onto the BBC at least once, when 10cc recorded a live session for Sounds On Sunday on January 20. They performed six songs, Worst Band, Somewhere In Hollywood and Oh Effendi from the new album, plus Sand In My Face, Rubber Bullets and Headline Hustler from their debut. More new material, Hotel, Old Wild Men, Clockwork Creep, Silly Love and a reprise of Oh Effendi, would appear in May, in a studio session for DJ Bob Harris.

In February, 1975, meanwhile, 10cc made their first visit to America. It was a storming success, even if Gouldman does recollect some very peculiar billings. “We used to have some interesting combinations that the promoters used to put us together with. Slade. Slade and 10cc, that is pretty bizarre, but you know what? It didn’t work. It was strange. Slade were topping the bill and most people came to see them. We just went on, played, then went off again. Interesting.”

Rory Gallagher was another regular star of 10cc’s American shows, but the band were spared any further, even more incomprehensible, couplings when Kevin Godley fell victim to an unscheduled illness. The band took the change in plans as an excuse for a holiday, returning home in time to see their latest single, Wall Street Shuffle (backed by the self-explanatory instrumental Gismo My Way) restore them to the Top Ten.

Sheet Music swiftly followed. The album was eventually to become one of the most successful of 1974, remaining on the British charts for over six months, and qualifying for a gold disc (it made #81 in America). It was also the album which cemented 10cc’s reputation as one of the most inventive and exciting British bands of the decade. “It grips the heart of rock ‘n’ roll like nothing I’ve heard before,” raved Melody Maker, before describing 10cc as the Beach Boys of Good Vibrations, the Beatles of Penny Lane, they’re the mischievous kid next door, they’re the Marx Brothers, they’re Jack and Jill, they’re comic cuts characters, and they’re sheer brilliance.” Eric Stewart certainly agreed – he told that same paper, 10cc’s music is “better than 90% of the sheer unadulterated crap that’s in the charts.” Gouldman agrees.

Sheet Music is probably the definitive 10cc album. What it was, our second album wasn’t our difficult second album, it was our best second album. It was the best second album we ever did.” In August, Silly Love became the third single to be lifted from Sheet Music (and the first ever to have an album track as a flip), it was not a wise choice; despite appearances on Top Of The Pops, and such lesser bastions of British rock TV as Lift Off With Ayshea, the band were rewarded with a mere fortnight in the lower reaches of the Top Thirty, at the same time as they were selling out theatres all across the country on their latest tour, and headlining the legendary Reading Festival. Silly Love would be 10cc’s last official single for UK. On February 22, 1975, it was announced that they had signed to Phonogram for around the then unprecedented sum of $1 million.

“We decided that if 10cc were to reach their full potential we must change to a truly international record company” according to Ric Dixon, 10cc’s co-manager (with Harvey Lisberg.) A spokesman for UK, while expressing disappointment at losing the band, added that “a million dollars buys a lot of loyalty.”

“There were certain regrets socially,” Lol Creme acknowledged. “We like Jonathan, even thought he’s a bum and a punk and tight, but we love him because he’s one of those very likeable people. But regrets as far as our career went, there were none.” The band’s third album, The Original Soundtrack, had already been recorded, and it appeared a fortnight later with a single, the brilliant Life Is A Minestrone, trailing in its wake. Once again, the album was a remarkable achievement, but as so often happens, last year’s critical darlings were in line for a good kicking. Few reviews were immediately complimentary, while the handful that could praise the album were also swift to damn it. Too clever, too perfect, too smug, 10cc had effectively reduced rock ‘n’ roll to a science, and no matter how much one marveled at their brilliance, still a part of one’s body cried out for some good old fashioned boogie. That’s what the critics reckoned, anyway, and 10cc themselves would eventually confess that the album was not as good as it could have been, that a couple of tracks had not been intended for inclusion, but were thrown on at the last minute because they’d run out of time to record anything else. Elsewhere, however, The Original Soundtrack was to prove the band’s most successful album, reaching #3 in Britain, and #15 in the US, before spawning a single which remains a perennial in those “All Time Greats” popularity polls, the breathless I’m Not In Love.

“The title is the first thing that happened,” Eric Stewart later revealed. “My wife used to say to me ‘Why don’t you say I love you more often?’ And I talked to Graham about this, and came up with the title I’m Not In Love, but here are all the reasons why I am very much in love. And it was also quite quirky and very 10cc to switch something on its head and say ‘I’m not in love, but I am.’” Famously, I’m Not In Love required in the region of 256 overdubs to complete. Less famously, it also required a guest appearance from Kathy Warren, the receptionist at Strawberry. “They were trying to work out what to put in the middle eight, and a telephone cal came through for Eric,” she remembers. “So I went to the studio door and just opened it quietly and whispered, ‘Eric, there’s a phone call for you.’ And they all said ‘That’s it! The line they asked me to say was, ‘[whispered] Be quiet, big boys don’t cry’.” The band themselves believed I’m Not In Love was a risky release; “we decided to put it out, thinking it would either be a hit, or a resounding flop,” Lol Creme admitted, with Gouldman adding, “Phonogram said that as well.”

10cc’s second British #1, and a #2 smash in America, I’m Not In Love was included on the soundtrack to the movie The Stud (“I’m dying to see Joan Collins’ bum working away to it,” Eric Stewart sniggered), and has also spawned a wealth of cover versions, something which Graham Gouldman (one of the song’s co-authors) remains uneasy about.

“Petula Clark’s I’m Not In Love, disco style, is probably the worst cover I’ve ever heard of any song. Chrissie Hynde’s was a bit plain; her voice is brilliant, so you can’t knock her for that, but it sounded a bit like we’ve got three hours to do this, so let’s knock it out.”

The release of I’m Not In Love coincided with UK rushing out 100cc – The Greatest Hits of 10cc, a fascinating album whose British incarnation brought together all but one of the band’s A-sides (Johnny Don’t Do It), together with all the non-album B-sides. A single coupling two of these, Waterfall / 4% Of Something, was also released, but while the album quickly charted, the single was ignored. American fans, meanwhile, were tempted with an identically titled, but very different collection, a genuine “best of” which drew from both UK albums, and certainly proved an intriguing entry point for fans of I’m Not In Love. It also kept the pot boiling while 10cc prepared their next album, and awaited their next American tour.

10cc’s visit in the fall of 1975 was most recently remembered by the release of their King Biscuit Flour Hour Live album, a set which is simultaneously one of the strongest in the entire KBFH series to date, and one of the most frustrating. For whatever reason, it highlights only material from the group’s first two albums; The Original Soundtrack material is altogether absent, leaving the astute collector with no alternative but to also seek out a bootleg featuring highlights from the same show. Going Pink On Purpose (TAKRL) includes five live songs, two of which, The Second Sitting For The Last Supper” and I’m Not In Love, offer some indication of what the official release omitted.


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…