April 11, 1997 GOLDMINE #436

10cc : A Pure Injection Of Pop

Original Article By Dave Thompson


Chapter Ten : Headline Writer In ‘Stuck For Words’ Shock!!!


Indeed, Gouldman admits he returned home having learned nothing more about the new music than he’d left with, and it is only today, looking back on 10cc’s continued stubborn insularity that he can reflect, “we should either have tried to change direction, which we didn’t, or got someone else in the band, which we almost did. The albums weren’t really bad, there was always the integrity, and the production values, but in retrospect, I find them rather dour, rather lackluster. That’s why I thought we  should have got someone else in, to kick us up the arse. We didn’t see what was going on around us, maybe we should have got a producer at that point.”

In fact, West Coast guitarist and songwriter Andrew Gold came very close to joining 10cc. “10cc were with Warners in the US in the early ‘80s,” Gouldman explains. “They wanted more of an American flavour to the album (1981’s Ten Out Of 10) we were working on. They were keen for us to work with an American producer or writer. Well, we hadn’t had any big success since ’78, and we wanted to get hot again. When they suggested Andrew Gold, I was over the moon. I’d always adored his work, and I reckoned he would be a kindred spirit. He seemed as if he was a Beatlemaniac, and definitely an Anglophile. I wrote three songs on that album with him (Stewart collaborated on a fourth), and none of them was a big hit, but they all turned out to be singles, which says something about him.”

Indeed it does; the resultant record was so Americanized that 10cc’s European label, the ever-loyal Mercury, actually dumped all three of Gold’s collaborations, Power Of Love, We’ve Heard It All Before and Runaway (plus the generally lackluster Tomorrow’s World Today), replacing them with four more characteristic compositions, Action Man In A Motown Suit, Listen With Your Eyes, Lying Here With You and Survivor. It made no difference : Ten Out Of 10 became 10cc’s first flop album. Even so, Gold remained close to Gouldman’s heart. “I felt really we needed some new blood, but it didn’t work out. Andrew was doing so much stuff in America that it just wasn’t practical although he really wanted to do it.”

10cc’s final album, Windows In The Jungle, appeared in mid-1983. The previous year, the band had effectively bowed out of the concert stage with a show at London’s cavernous Wembley Arena, which was duly filmed for a Japan-only video release (an anticipated live album remains on the shelf, with just two cuts, I’m Not In Love and Dreadlock Holiday subsequently appearing on the limited edition 10 inch single version of 24 Hours). Now they were giving up the studio ghost as well. Gouldman is characteristically honest about the split. “What really happened was, we decided we were going to have a break from 10cc. We hadn’t really had that much chart success for the previous three or four years, and we always thought we were doing something wrong; maybe we should have taken a break earlier on, during the early ‘80s, but we were always supremely optimistic and always though things would work out fine. But they didn’t, so we got a bit fed up with it actually.” In one famous exchange, Stewart recalls “somebody said at that time, ‘if you released I’m Not In Love now, it would be a flop.’”

Godley & Creme, too, had found the years since the split commercially frustrating. Their second album, title L, reached #47 in the UK; but Freeze Frame stiffed despite contributions from Paul McCartney and Phil Manzanera. Further collaborations with Manzanera on his own albums, and a startling production job with pub rock veteran Mickey Jupp, passed by equally unnoticed, and it would be 1981 before the duo returned to the Top 30, when Under Your Thumb, a ghost story set to music, hit #3. The Motown pastiche, Wedding Bells followed it to #7, and in those singles’ wake, the duo’s latest album, Ismism (released in America as Snack Attack) scraped #29. Meanwhile, a string of classic tracks, Wide Boy, Snack Attack, Sandwiches Of You, Welcome To Breakfast Television and, best of all, An Englishman In New York/Strange Apparatus had passed by all but unnoticed, a misadventure which would not be truly remedied until 1988 brought the Changing Faces compilation of 10cc and Godley & Creme tracks.

In the meantime, however, the duo did have one more trick up their sleeve, a computerized medley of all their past hits and misses,1985’s History Mix. Recorded with Frankie Goes To Hollywood mastermind Trevor Horn, The History Mix boasted one new song, the hit single Cry, but a smorgasbord of oldies. Surfacing from what is certainly one of the most disconcerting albums ever made are snatches of music dating back as far as Dr Father’s Umbopo and Hotlegs’ Neanderthal Man, a generous swathe of 10cc memories, and a clutch of Godley & Creme’s own material. Self-indulgent in places, annoying ion others, still History Mix remains an essential album, the segue linking I’m Not In Love with Cry is especially effective, while Cry itself was accompanied chartwards by one of the best-loved videos of the era, edited down from a full length History Mix video (and, of course, the inspiration behind the title of the afore-mentioned 1988 hits package, Changing Faces).

Godley & Creme had, in fact, spent considerably more time and effort working in video than in music over the past few years, producing some of the most memorable, and groundbreaking, images of the age. New romantic clothes horses Visage, Joan Armatrading, Toyah and Ringo Starr rank among their earliest clients; even more important are Godley & Creme videos for Duran Duran’s epochal Girls On Film, Culture Club’s Victims, Elton John’s Kiss The Bride, David Sylvian’s Forbidden Colours, the Police’s Synchronicity, Wrapped Around Your Finger and Every Breath You Take, Herbie Hancock’s MTV award-sweeping Rockit and Autodrive, and most successfully of all, Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s superpower face off, Two Tribes, a video which won best video awards at both Midem and St Tropez. The pair also directed a 10cc video, for 1983’s Feel The Love single. Godley & Creme’s own History Mix video was the creative culmination of all this, but by no means had they exhausted their powers. Work with Peter Gabriel (Biko, Don’t Give Up), Lou Reed (No Money Down) and many more followed over the next three years, while Godley alone has since continued in this same field with U2 (throughout the Zooropa fiasco) and the reformed Beatles; both Free As A Bird and Real Love were accompanied by his work, with the former as least as memorable as the music which accompanied it. The Beatles connection which has, then, run constantly through 10cc’s individual and collective history ever since Graham Gouldman wandered backstage at a fabs show in 1964, made its most concrete connection in 1982, when Eric Stewart was drafted into Paul McCartney’s studio set-up to work on the Tug Of War album.

Stewart’s own solo career had finally sputtered to a halt with the release of the frankly abysmal Frooty Rooties album, and with 10cc now drawing to its own natural halt, McCartney’s offer ensured that the guitarist would at least remain in the public eye. His contributions to Tug Of War were followed by return engagements for both Pipes Of Peace and the Give My Regards To Broad Street soundtrack, and it may or may not be coincidental that the tracks featuring Stewart remain the best on those albums. Now, with 10cc at an end, the guitarist would produce an album for Abba’s Agnetha (Justin Hayward appears as a musician and songwriter on the disc), before joining McCartney’s band full-time. Stewart was a leading contributor both musically and as co-writer to 1986’s generally excellent Press To Play album, a valuable addition to the McCartney catalog both in its released form, and across a pair of interesting, if not overly dissimilar bootlegs, Extended Tracks and The Alternate Press To Play. Although neither offers anything in the way of unreleased songs, the latter’s rough mixes include an extended version of Good Times Coming / Feel The Sun, while Extended Tracks includes multiple versions of Spies Like Us, Stranglehold and Pretty Little Head. On the strength of this material, it is indeed a shame that the Stewart-McCartney collaboration was not to be longer lived.



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…