April 11, 1997 GOLDMINE #436

10cc : A Pure Injection Of Pop

Original Article By Dave Thompson


Chapter Nine : I said ‘You’ve got to be joking man, it was a present from me mum’!!!!


Neither was much critical attention lavished on a pair of albums featuring Eric Stewart, released during this tumultuous year. The first was by Sad Café, the Manchester band whom several critics had heralded as the “new” 10cc, and whose third album, the Top Ten hit Facades, he produced; the other, still a favourite with 10cc collectors, was Mandalaband’s The Eye Of Wendor. The band itself was the brainchild of David Rohl, who replaced Stewart as Chief Engineer at Strawberry Studios. Three tracks boast 10cc vocals: Florian’s Song stars Stewart; Elsethea features Gouldman; and Witch Of Waldow Wood features Kevin Godley on lead vocals. But if people were preparing to dismiss 10cc altogether, Stewart and Gouldman still had one last ace up their sleeves. Dreadlock Holiday was as infuriatingly catchy slice of mock reggae based around some of Justin Hayward and Eric Stewart’s more sinister experiences while on holiday in the Caribbean.

“We used to go on holiday to the Caribbean and one day Eric decided he wanted to go parasailing,” Hayward explains. “so we headed off to the middle of the ocean to this parasail raft, and Eric was very, very painfully parasailed up into the sky by a very fast speedboat and I was left on this raft with these three boys. Then one of the boys said to me ‘Hey, I really like those chains around your wrist’, ya’ know, and he said ‘I’ll give you a dollar for them’. So I said, ‘Well… no, I don’t think so’. And he said, ‘Oh well, in that case, I’ll cut your hand off and take them’. So, then, I started to go into this ludicrous explanation about how I got them, and they were a present from me mum, and all of this, and it was a case really of dark and mysterious meets white and pale and getting paler every minute in the middle of the Caribbean.”

“We got some flak for Dreadlock Holiday,” Gouldman laughs, “For stereotyping black voices and style, but the stupid thing is, the song is if anything, anti-white, because it’s talking about this guy trying to emulate black cool, black style, which he can never do!” And besides, the single was so successful, its detractors were very swiftly drowned out. In the summer of 1978, Dreadlock Holiday gave 10cc their third British #1, and a #44 in America.

Looking back on Godley/Creme’s departure from that perspective, Gouldman reasons, “We withstood it remarkably well, coming out with our biggest selling record right after.” Dreadlock Holiday was 10cc’s eleventh Top 10 hit in Britain; the album from which it came, Bloody Tourists, was their sixth Top 10 album. That same year’s Greatest Hits 1972-78 compilation notwithstanding, both would also be their last for some time. A strong follow-up single, Reds In My Bed, failed to make any impression whatsoever on the British charts (in America, For You And I struggled to #69, on the back of its inclusion in John Travolta’s Moment By Moment movie soundtrack), and Gouldman laughs, “our last major hit was a #1 record, which is a very strange way to go. Bloody Tourists did very well, it was a good album I think. But I think Dreadlock Holiday was the only hit single on the album. I can’t really explain why; when we’re recording, we’re not going ‘Oh, that’s a hit.’ But we always think everything we do has solid gold all over it, until with the advent of time it takes its rightful place. I can’t explain why there were no more hits from that album. But I can explain why there were no more hits after it, because we lost it, basically.”

In fact, there were more tangible reasons than that, beginning with Eric Stewart being involved in a very serious motor accident in January, 1979, on the eve of a sold out Far Eastern tour. Scuppering the band’s plans to appear in a science fiction rock movie, Rock On, in which they would have been filmed playing on Mount Fuji in Japan, his injuries effectively kept him out of circulation for the next year. “I had to wait… stay away from sound,” Stewart mourns. “The doctors told me I had to stay away from loud music and racing cars, and those are the two things I love… or did love most in my life, apart from my wife, of course. It was a very, very strange period and took me a long, long time to recuperate.”

During this enforced lay-off, Gouldman scored his first ever solo hit with Sunburn, the soundtrack to a new Farrah Fawcett movie. It reached #45 in Britain in 1979, and the following year, Gouldman would record a second soundtrack, Animalympics, to accompany an amusing sporting cartoon film. “I like that album a lot, there’s some good things on it, and I enjoyed making it. But it was also a very therapeutic album for me because there was a lot of things happening in my life and it was good to get on with some work.”

Eric Stewart bounced back in late 1979 with his own solo album, the soundtrack to the French movie, Girls, which he recorded during his incapacitation; with a sparkling production job on Sad Café’s eponymous fourth album, and a new 10cc album, Look Hear?. It was not a great success. The problem was, says Gouldman, “I think we felt we could take up the reins where we left off, without paying any attention to what was going on around us.” He remains adamant that Stewart’s incapacitation did not really make a difference to the band’s continuing misfortunes. Look Hear? reached #180 in the US, and #35 in Britain. Referring again to Godley/Creme’s departure, Gouldman insists, “the late ‘70s were a heavier blow than losing half the team, this was ‘the times, they are a changing.’ We were still right for the times in the 1970s, Kevin and Lol leaving was a blow indeed, but it wasn’t a death blow. We dealt with it very well. But other things happened going into the late ‘70s/early ‘80s.”

Those “other things,” of course, were Punk and the New Wave, a musical backlash which sent 10cc’s brand of rock perfectionism reeling, as new bands sought to return music if not to the stone age, then at least to a stone age garage. The continued sophistication of 10cc’s music had no place in a climate dominated by the young upstarts of Punk, Two Tone and New Romanticism; Gouldman’s one serious brush with Punk Rock, when he was drafted in to produce the Ramones’ Pleasant Dreams album in 1981, remains an unresolved thorn in the Ramones’ collective side. “He was [Sire Records chief] Seymour Stein’s idea,” Joey Ramone recalls. “He thought Graham would be perfect for us, after all the songs he’d written in the ‘60s, Bus Stop and things like that. But we didn’t really understand it.”

Neither did Gouldman, whose last outside production job had been an album by Irish singer songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan. “That was bizarre. They contacted me, and I said, ‘Why me?’ They said, ‘we loved the songs you wrote in the ‘60s, and we think we write those kind of songs!’ I didn’t understand that at all. I couldn’t think of songs more opposite to those I’d written. But I loved doing it. We cut most of the album in New York, and then I brought Joey out to Strawberry Studios in Stockport. I expected to have a lot of trouble with them, but they were very cooperative and conscientious and quite finicky. That blows their entire image! They were ultra-professional, it was a good album and apparently it sold well, but I’m not really known as a punk producer. I didn’t get any offers to produce the next Clash album!”



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…