Tuesday, 26 March 2019

10cc - Roots (1973)

While researching 10cc for last week's post, I discovered that their story was even more convoluted than I'd ever imagined, and after reading about the member's varied pre-10cc careers it prompted another post, so although this one is a bit long and involved, do try to stick with it to the end as it's a really fascinating story.
Three of the founding members of 10cc were childhood friends in the Manchester area. As boys, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme knew each other, and Graham Gouldman and Godley attended the same secondary school. Their first recorded collaboration was in 1964, when Gouldman's band The Whirlwinds recorded the Lol Creme composition 'Baby Not Like You', as the B-side of their only single, 'Look At Me'. The Whirlwinds then changed members and name, becoming The Mockingbirds, including singer-guitarist Gouldman, bassist Bernard Basso and drummer Kevin Godley, and recorded five singles in 1965–66 without any success. In June 1967, Godley and Creme reunited and recorded a solitary single 'Seeing Things Green' / 'Easy Life' on UK CBS, under the name The Yellow Bellow Room Boom. In 1969 Gouldman took them to a Marmalade Records recording session, and owner Giorgio Gomelsky was impressed with Godley's falsetto voice and offered them a recording contract. In September 1969 Godley & Creme recorded some basic tracks at Strawberry Studios, with Stewart on guitar and Gouldman on bass, and the resultant single 'I'm Beside Myself' / 'Animal Song' was issued under the name of Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon. Gomelsky (an ex-manager of The Yardbirds) planned to market Godley & Creme as a duo, in the vein of Simon & Garfunkel, but plans for an album by Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon faltered when Marmalade ran out of funds. However, solo tracks by Godley and Gouldman were released on a 1969 Marmalade Records music sample album '100 Proof'. Gouldman's track was 'The Late Mr. Late' and Godley's was 'To Fly Away', later reappearing as 'Fly Away' on the debut Hotlegs album 'Thinks: School Stinks'. Gouldman, meanwhile, had made a name for himself as a hit songwriter, penning 'Heart Full of Soul', 'Evil Hearted You' and 'For Your Love' for The Yardbirds, 'Look Through Any Window' and 'Bus Stop' for The Hollies, and 'No Milk Today', 'East West' and 'Listen People' for Herman's Hermits. At the same time the fourth future member of 10cc was also tasting significant pop music success, as guitarist Eric Stewart was a member of Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, a group that hit No.1 with 'The Game of Love', and also scored a number of other mid-1960s hits. When Fontana left the band in October 1965, the group became known simply as The Mindbenders, with Stewart as their lead vocalist, and the band scored another big hit with 'A Groovy Kind of Love' in 1965. In March 1968, Gouldman joined Stewart in The Mindbenders, replacing bassist Bob Lang and playing on some tour dates. Gouldman also wrote two of the band's last three singles, 'School Girl' in 1967 and 'Uncle Joe The Ice Cream Man' in 1968, neither of which bothered the charts.
In the dying days of The Mindbenders, Stewart began recording demos of new material at Inner City Studios, a Stockport studio then owned by Peter Tattersall, a former road manager for Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas. In July 1968, Stewart joined Tattersall as a partner in the studio, where he could further hone his skills as a recording engineer. In October 1968, the studio was moved to bigger premises and renamed Strawberry Studios, after The Beatles' 'Strawberry Fields Forever'. In 1969, Gouldman also began using Strawberry Studios to record demos of songs he was writing for Marmalade, as he had become much more in demand as a songwriter than as a performer, and by the end of the year he too was a financial partner in the studios. By 1969, all four members of the original 10cc line-up were working together regularly at Strawberry Studios. Around the same time, noted American bubblegum pop writer-producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz of Super K Productions came to England and commissioned Gouldman to write and produce formula bubblegum songs, many of which were recorded at Strawberry Studios, and were either augmented or performed entirely by varying combinations of the future 10cc line-up. Among the recordings from this period was 'Sausalito (Is The Place To Go)', a No. 86 US hit credited to Ohio Express and released in July 1969. In fact the song featured Gouldman on lead vocal, with vocal and instrumental backing by the other three future 10cc members. In December 1969, Kasenetz and Katz agreed to a proposal by Gouldman that he work solely at Strawberry, rather than move constantly between Stockport, London and New York. Gouldman convinced the pair that these throwaway two-minute songs could all be written, performed and produced by him and his three colleagues, Stewart, Godley and Creme, at a fraction of the cost of hiring outside session musicians, and Kasenetz and Katz booked the studio for three months. The three-month project resulted in a number of tracks that appeared under various band names owned by Kasenetz-Katz, including 'There Ain't No Umbopo' by Crazy Elephant, 'When He Comes' by Fighter Squadron and 'Come On Plane' by Silver Fleet, all three with lead vocals by Godley. When the three-month production deal with Kasenetz-Katz ended, Gouldman returned to New York to work as a staff songwriter for Super K Productions and the remaining three continued to dabble in the studio. With Gouldman absent, Godley, Creme and Stewart continued recording singles. The first, 'Neanderthal Man', began life as a test of drum layering at the new Strawberry Studios mixing desk, but when released as a single by Fontana Records under the name of Hotlegs in 1970 it climbed to No. 2 in the UK charts and became a worldwide hit, selling more than two million copies. Around the same time, the trio released 'Umbopo' under the name of Doctor Father, being a slower, longer and more melancholic version of the track earlier released under the name of Crazy Elephant. Reverting to the successful band name Hotlegs, in early 1971 Godley, Creme and Stewart recorded the album 'Thinks: School Stinks', which included the hit 'Neanderthal Man', and then recalled Gouldman for a short tour supporting The Moody Blues, before releasing a follow-up single 'Lady Sadie' / 'The Loser', following which Philips reworked their sole album by removing 'Neanderthal Man' and adding 'Today', and re-issuing it as 'Song'. The band also continued outside production work at Strawberry Studios, working with Dave Berry, Wayne Fontana, Peter Cowap and Herman's Hermits, and doing original compositions for various UK football teams such as Manchester United. In 1971 they produced and played on Space Hymns, an album by New Age musician Ramases, and in 1972–73 they co-produced and played on two Neil Sedaka albums, 'Solitaire' and 'The Tra-La Days Are Over'. It was Neil Sedaka's success that prompted the four musicians to try to make it on their own merits, and the germ of 10cc was born. Once again a four-piece, the group recorded a Stewart/Gouldman song, 'Waterfall' in early 1972, and Stewart offered the acetate to Apple Records, but ended up waiting for months before receiving a note from the label saying the song was not commercial enough to release as a single. Undeterred by Apple's rejection, the group decided to plug another song which had been written as a possible B-side to 'Waterfall', a Godley/Creme composition entitled 'Donna'. The song was a Frank Zappa-influenced 1950s doo-wop parody, a sharp mix of commercial pop and irony with a chorus sung in falsetto, and the rest, as they say, is history.  

Track listing

01 Baby Not Like You (Creme) - The Whirlwinds (Gouldman) 1964
02 Seeing Things Green (Godley/Creme) - The Yellow Bellow Room Boom 1967
03 Easy Life (Godley Creme) - The Yellow Bellow Room Boom 1967
04 School Girl (Gouldman) - The Mindbenders (Stewart/Gouldman) 1967
05 Uncle Joe The Ice Cream Man (Gouldman) - The Mindbenders (Stewart/Gouldman) 1968
06 I'm Beside Myself (Godley/Creme) - Frabjoy And Runcible Spoon 1969
07 Animal Song (Godley/Creme) - Frabjoy And Runcible Spoon 1969
08 The Late Mr Late (Gouldman) - Graham Gouldman 1969
09 To Fly Away (Godley) - Kevin Godley 1969
10 Sausalito (Is The Place To Go) (Gouldman) - The Ohio Express (10cc) 1969
11 There Ain't No Umbopo (Godley/Creme) - Crazy Elephant (10cc) 1970
12 Neanderthal Man (Godley/Creme/Stewart) - Hotlegs (Godley/Creme/Stewart) 1970
13 Roll On (Godley/Creme/Stewart) - Doctor Father (Godley/Creme/Stewart) 1970
14 Umbopo (Godley/Creme) - Doctor Father (Godley/Creme/Stewart) 1970
15 When He Comes (Gouldman/Katz/Kasenetz) - Fighter Squadron (10cc) 1971
16 Come on Plane (Gouldman/Katz/Kasenetz) - Silver Fleet (10cc) 1971
17 Today (Godley/Creme) - Festival (10cc) 1972
18 Warm Me (Stewart/Gouldman) - Festival (10cc) 1972
19 Have You Ever Been To Georgia (Gouldman) - Garden Odyssey (10cc) 1972
20 The Joker (Gouldman/Greenfield) - Garden Odyssey (10cc) 1972
21 Travellin' Man (Gouldman) - Tristar Airbus (10cc) 1972
22 Pig Bin An' Gone (Godley/Creme/Stewart/Gouldman) - Grumble (10cc) 1973

Enjoy / Enjoy 


  1. Cool, this looks like fun. Big Thanks!

  2. Thanks so much - really interesting.

  3. Thanks for the great, inspired and insightful work you do here. Fantastic. Do you ever sleep? Cheers.