April 11, 1997 GOLDMINE #436

10cc : A Pure Injection Of Pop

Original Article By Dave Thompson


Chapter Twelve : And They Still Don’t Give A…


The 1982 concert video, and an earlier, excellent compilation, Tropical And Love Songs were only the first Japan only releases which today haunt (and, in terms of cost, daunt) the 10cc collector. There was also a 1991 CD boxed set, The Greatest Songs And More, recounting 10cc’s entire eleven year career across 56 tracks, including all of their stubbornly non-album Mercury B-sides. Of course the band’s return was going to be greeted with success, so much so that a handful of British and European dates were followed by a full Japanese tour, out of which came the two-CD Alive concert album. This, even by 10cc’s eccentric standards, is a weird one. Available only on Japanese import for a long time, it was eventually issued in America across two single discs by Griffin (New Millenium in the UK), and offers up not only the expected smattering of past hits and misses, but also a handful of covers, the first 10cc have ever released. Two Beatles’ songs, Across The Universe and Paperback Writer are joined by Carl Perkins’ Slow Down (effectively a third Beatles number, of course), and Gouldman laughs, “Harvey [Lisberg, still the band’s manager], his favourite song of all time is Across The Universe, and he used to say why don’t you… so we thought okay, we’ll shut him up and do it. And Eric always liked Paperback Writer, and we came up  with this reggae version of it, it was really a case of why not?”

Yeah, but what about Slow Down?

With the 10cc machine how grinding again, Stewart and Gouldman began to seriously consider reconvening. In the event, it would be three more years before anything came of their scheming, but with interest from the Avex label still building, by 1995 the duo were ready to start work. The problem was, Stewart was living in France at the time, Gouldman was in London, and neither was willing to abandon their homes, particularly as they both had their own studio facilities close to hand.

“What happened was, it’s almost like two halves of an album. I think the original intention was – Eric was in France, he has his own studio there, and I was in England working in a studio which belongs to a guy named Adrian Lee, and vaguely, we intended starting off these tracks and then bring them together, finish them together, which a lot of people do. But it never happened, we got so into what we were doing, we wanted to keep it pure. It was a bit – it was the way we wanted to do it. I don’t like to say we hoodwinked the people, but you could say it’s not quite what it appears to be, and anyone with any sense, who reads the credits, could see that. A song like Ready To Go Home, I originally wanted Eric to sing that, to do the duet with me. But Andrew [Gold] had done some stuff on my tracks, and because he and I wrote that song together, and did the demo together, I said to him, ‘Put your voice on it and I’ll send it to Eric,’ but Eric said he heard it and he thought it was so great, why mess with it?”

The resultant album, Mirror Mirror is indeed a pickle, apparently picking up on numerous past collaborations, and dropping them all into the pot. To make matters even more confusing, there are at least four different versions of the album floating around, domestic American, Japanese and European CD pressings all boasting different track listings, and a British vinyl set which reconciles most of them. An unreleased Stewart-Paul McCartney collaboration here, a Gouldman-Tim Rice song there, and a …meanwhile demo, Woman In Love somewhere else… one ends up feeling thankful that Gouldman didn’t drop in some reminder of another recent collaboration, playing on an album by actor David Hasselhof! (“That was a career move and a half,” he jests.) The only point at which one realizes one is listening to an actual 10cc comes with a reprise of I’m Not In Love, thrown onto the album at the last minute to salute both the 20th anniversary of the duo’s most successful collaboration, and its three millionth spin on American radio.

“That was something we didn’t intend to do at all,” says Gouldman. “We did a TV program – the album was going to come out, and Avex wanted to start off the promo machine early. We’d already done an acoustic version of I’m Not In Love on a TV program called Good Morning Television, they said ‘Could you do something well-known?’ so we worked out a version that was just myself on guitar and Eric playing keyboards and us both singing, and it sounded really good. So there as another program that was going to do a feature on us, and they asked if they could film us rerecording the song; we did it and it sounded so great that Avex said we must put it out as a single, which I didn’t want to do at all. My argument was, ‘we’re promoting an album of new songs, and we’re going to launch it with a song that’s 20 years old? That’s insane!’ But their argument was, ‘Well, it will grasp people’s attentions, it is your most famous song, it’s a way of reminding people you’re still around.’ And I have to admit it did work.”

Backed by a ‘state of the art’ remix of the original recording, the acoustic retread of I’m Not In Love reached #29 in Britain. “We got a considerable amount of TV and radio coverage on that record,” Gouldman says, “which enabled us to go around radio stations doing acoustic versions not only of I’m Not In Love, but also Dreadlock Holiday, Ready To Go Home and Take This Woman.”

It is not a bad album, of course; indeed, there are moments which at least rival Stewart and Gouldman’s finest moments of the last 16 years; however, Gouldman himself is not necessarily being complimentary when he remarks, “I think it’s unusual that on this album, unlike other 10cc records, the songs are coverable. Other people could record them. No-one else would ever have done Sand In My Face or One Night In Paris. I’m Not In Love, yes, but that’s really the exception in our catalogue. O\n the next album, I think we should get back to songs no one else could do – that are so individual that they’re ours and no-one else’s.”

Whether that “next album” ever appears, of course, remains to be seen. But although it would seem highly unlikely that 10cc, in any permutation, will ever be able to recapture the sheer brilliance of the songs they produced between 1972-76, neither could anyone have predicted what would befall them at the close of those long, fallow months following Neanderthal Man. Individually and collectively, the group continues to enjoy a fiercely devoted following, and for the collector, there are now over thirty years worth of releases to chase, a task whose demands are only partially alleviated by the reappearance, on CD, of so many crucial albums from the early years of the band’s development : The Graham Gouldman Thing (Edsel EDCD 346), Ramases’ Space Hymns (Repertoire RR 4108-WP), Hotlegs’ Think: School Stinks (One Way S21-17961). An explosion of interest in those once despised football songs, spearheaded by the acclaimed Bend IT! Series of compilations, has seen a number of the Strawberry Studios soccer records reappear for a whole generation of kitsch collectors; while both Elton John and the Idle Race’s covers of Neanderthal Man have resurfaced on recent compilations. And finally, lest we forget, 1996 saw The Original Soundtrack remastered from the original tapes, appended with two period B-sides, and sent back out to take its place amongst the classic albums of the 1970s.

None of which is at all bad for what was, and always will be, the self-confessed worst band in the world. And they still don’t give a…



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…