❉ Eoghan Lyng on the definitive, authorised biography of 10cc.
It’s hard to pick out one stand out moment from 10cc. There’s Feel The Benefit, the band’s dreamlike operetta and there’s Une Nuite A Paris, a bona fida operetta. There’s the slow, waltz-like Code of Silence, written in close collaboration with Paul McCartney, or the rapid-fire Silly Love.
Drummer Kevin Godley sang with angelic flair, yet strangely was the only member who didn’t sing a UK no.1. Bandmates Lol Creme and Graham Gouldman are heard on Rubber Bullets and Dreadlock Holiday respectively, leaving keyboardist/guitarist Eric Stewart to sing his heart out on the gorgeous I’m Not In Love. The band’s most fondly remembered track, I’m Not In Love has been covered by a multitude of artists. Some of these covers were excellent (Richie Havens), some less so (Johnny Logan) and then there’s Petula Clark. She really went downtown with that one!
Author Liam Newton, 10cc’s proud Ian MacDonald, has curated a tribute that serves as much a tribute to Manchester as it does its proudest band. Of particular interest is the post-How Dare You period, where the four piece band divided themselves into two camps. Godley and Creme focused on their avant garde triple work Consequences, leaving Gouldman and Stewart to steer 10cc as a duo. These factions also broke down with the passages of time; when the men gathered to sing on ….Meanwhile, it was never with all four in the same studio concurrently. Gouldman and Stewart’s relationship deteriorated further by Mirror Mirror, compiling what Newton describes as two solo albums in one outlet.
It’s not all doom and gloom, thankfully. Godley pens a moving foreword that illustrates four hungry, ambitious musicians joining ideas at Strawberry Studios. Godley lives in this writer’s native Ireland, having developed a healthy relationship with Dublin band U2. He directed many of their most memorable videos, working closely with the band on their ZOOTV tour. When music proved a less tenable outlet for Godley and Creme in the eighties, it was as video directors that showed how sustainedly creative the duo were. Among the videos they directed was 10cc’s Feel The Love, the four men reuniting in typically atypical guise. Gouldman later formed Wax, calling his relationship with songwriter Andrew Gold the most joyous and fun he had, while Stewart worked on McCartney’s stormy Press To Play as a co-writer.
Godley, Gouldman and Stewart each give interviews in the book. In each case, the men speak with tremendous fondness for the band that inspired so many. Bizarrely, it was Gouldman and Godley who have collaborated most recently. Touring with the 10cc back catalogue, Gouldman welcomed the singing drummer to a London stage. Duetting on the liturgical Old Wild Men, the pair reignited the creative spirit on the haunting Beautifulloser.com. One of a series of songs released in 2006, the songs showed just as compatible the two men were after thirty years.
A four piece 10cc reunion is as likely as a four piece Beatles. Yet, just like The Beatles, the music is there to be enjoyed for every generation. This richly written book captures the many treasures that hang in 10cc’s back-pocket.
❉ ’10cc: The Worst Band In The World’ by Liam Newton, is out now from Rocket 88 Books. RRP £35.00.
❉ A regular contributor to We Are Cult, Eoghan Lyng’s writing has also appeared in New Sounds, Record Collector, CultureSonar, Punk Noir Magazine, DMovies, Phacemag and other titles. Follow him on Twitter. Visit his homepage.