April 11, 1997 GOLDMINE #436

10cc : A Pure Injection Of Pop

Original Article By Dave Thompson


Chapter Eleven : Sometimes Having Wax In Your Ears Can Be A Good Thing


Gouldman, meanwhile, was open to all offers, including one which presented him with a real blast from the past. “Paul Samwell-Smith got in touch with me and said that his new band, Box Of Frogs, was going to redo Heartful Of Soul and would I play on it? So I went down there, I did rhythm guitar, Rory Gallagher played lead and Roger Chapman sang it. Rory and 10cc had shared the bill at some early ‘70s American tour, so it was great seeing him again, seeing Paul, all those people.” Box Of Frogs’ Strange Land album was released in 1986, by which time, Gouldman had forged a more lasting link, this time with Andrew Gold.

“In 1983, when Eric and I decided to call it a day, Andrew was the first person I contacted. He originally came over here, planning to stay two weeks, and it ended up as six months.” Adopting the name Common Knowledge, the two recorded a new album, 1984’s Common Knowledge, but it was never to be released. Just two singles emerged from this initial union, “but we still believed in our collaboration, so we went back to Andrew’s house, did a load more demos, and eventually got a deal with RCA.”

Wax was a super-group duo which really did threaten, for a while at least, to combine the best of both worlds; Gouldman’s instinctive knack for classic pop, and Gold’s understanding of the American AOR audience. Indeed, the duo’s three albums do rate very highly on whichever scale that kind of music is measured upon. Gouldman, too, remains enthusiastic about Wax. “In America, we had two records that got to 41 or 42, we had Bridge To Your Heart, which was a big hit in Europe, and a song called Right Between The Eyes, which was a big hit in Spain, it was #1 for like four months, it was one of those summer hit things. Wax was a labour of love really. Andrew and I love working together; the thing that as happening, when we did the third album (1989’s A Hundred Thousand In Fresh Notes), was; the A&R man at the record company had moved, and though they put a very nice chap in, he wasn’t our chap. We felt there was a shift of priorities away from us, we did an album which we thought was very good, we had one single called Anchors Aweigh which got a lot of airplay, but they didn’t push it. Both Andrew and I were schlepping over to each others’ houses all the time, from LA to London, and we decided if we didn’t get a big hit, we’d knock Wax on the head, and simply continue as a songwriting team which we have done. We felt maybe we were a little old, there was a shift in the market. We didn’t want to knock our heads against a brick wall anymore, so we felt we’d rather just carry on as a songwriting team.”

Godley and Creme, too, would knock it on the head in 1988, bowing out with the aptly named Goodbye Blue Sky album, and their first feature film, Howling At The Moon. But 1988 also saw the first seeds sewn towards what would eventually become a full fledged 10cc reunion. Or not, as the case may be. “We were all involved in other projects throughout the 1980s, until 1988, after Polydor in the UK put out Changing Faces,” Gouldman recalls. “It did really well, and the four of us were brought together again at a luncheon to be presented with a platinum disc, and we started talking about doing another album together. In fact, the record company sort of instigated it, they thought it would be great if 10cc would do another album together, with Kev and Lol. So we started thinking about it.”

In fact, it would be another four years before the dream appeared to be coming true. Throughout 1990 Godley, as co-founder of the ARK environmental organization ARK, had been busy on the award winning television series One World One Voice (an attendant soundtrack album made #29 in the UK); during 1991, Creme was busy making his solo debut as a movie director, with The Lunatic (more recently, he reunited with Trevor Horn to create British television’s Glam Metal Detectives). In the fall of 1991, however, it was announced that the original quartet had reconvened in Woodstock, to begin work on their first album together in 16 years.

“But of course it didn’t happen like that,” Gouldman sighs, “because Kev and Lol were both off doing their other stuff. But they did contribute to the album. Kevin sang lead on one track and some backing vocals, and Lol did some backing vocals, but aside from that, that one song which I thought was great, their presence was hardly felt. I think as time’s gone by, I don’t feel that the world is waiting for 10cc, somehow. I know we have some fans and we’re grateful to them. In our mind the world is waiting, but in reality… What pissed us off was that Polydor said it was a reunion, and we were saying it wasn’t, it just wasn’t true, and this thing kept coming up again and again, and it was getting embarrassing. What I wanted to do was hire a studio, get the kit set up, get the amps in, and make it like the situation we used to have. But unfortunately, Kevin has a back problem and can’t play drums properly, and at that time, Kevin and Lol weren’t on great terms, so they were never in the studio with us together; there was all this bollocks, and I know what everyone wants, and it would be great if we could do it. But Lol has his career, Kevin has his, and I can’t see it ever happening.”

Indeed, for anybody raised on the initial reports, 1992’s …meanwhile was a considerable disappointment.

“We had some good songs,” Gouldman explains, adding that he and Stewart alone stockpiled some 22 tracks for the record, “so we felt confident that we could still do it. Polydor were pleased with the demos, and so we did the album. We didn’t have to do it for any reason. It wasn’t a case of being forced to do it under duress, or for the money. If you’re not happy, no amount of money will help, and it’ll sound awful. But then we got to the studio, and we had problems with our producer [Steely Dan maestro Gary Katz]. There wasn’t always harmony, and I think it created it a very one dimensional album. It’s also got this darkness to it that I don’t like. Some of the songs, particularly Welcome To Paradise, which were brilliant when you hear the demos, didn’t translate into the studio.”

Katz remains a contentious choice for the listener. Of all the bands with whom the “classic” 10cc was ever compared, arch perfectionists Steely Dan was the most common, and there was a distinct sense that Katz was recruited primarily to cater to precisely this stereotype. Gouldman himself does not disagree.

Possibly he was. Our record company wanted an American producer, they thought it would help break the American market, and once you start to follow things like that, it’s the slippery slope. That and other things combined to make an album which could have been a lot better. There were two things that were wrong for me, I didn’t like his idea of bringing in session men; they weren’t our players, they weren’t our band. Jeff Porcaro was one of the finest drummers in the universe, Freddie Washington the finest bass player. But anyone could have them, but them if you like, and I was against this. Gary wanted to use his people, though. He’d always used them, he was very secure with them, and we’d always been big fans of Jeff in particular; and we loved Steely Dan, we felt we had a kinship not so much with their records, but their spirit, their attitude.”

…meanwhile slipped into the shops in May, 1992, but though it scarcely registered in the UK (it didn’t even receive an American release), in Japan it sold through the roof… “as everybody does,” Gouldman jokes, although he knows that of all 10cc’s markets worldwide, Japan has remained by far the staunchest.


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…