I’m Not In Love – The Story of 10cc (BBC Documentary 2015)
10cc’s pedigree was perfect. A pop star lead singer of The Mindbenders, Eric Stewart who had reached global success with “A Groovy Kind of Love.” A songwriter, Graham Gouldman whose back catalog included sublime pop hits for Herman’s Hermits “No Milk Today,” and The Hollies’ “Bus Stop” and “Look Through Any Window.” And two anarchic art students Kevin Godley and Lol Creme who had earned their spurs in a variety of bands before teaming up with Stewart to form Hotlegs.
Hotlegs was the first intimation of the sheer bloody genius that was to become 10cc. There had been earlier collaborations—when Gouldman’s band The Whirlwinds recorded Creme’s song “Baby Not Like You” in 1964 or when Godley joined Gouldman in the Mockingbirds—but Hotlegs was the first conscious bringing together of their disparate talents into powerful focus. Their debut single and only UK Top Ten hit was “Neanderthal Man”—an earworm that burrowed deep in the membrane after just one playing. The song was the fortuitous result of trying out recording equipment at Strawberry Studios—the studio set up by Stewart and Gouldman in Stockport, England—when Godley wanted to lay “different drum beats down that he hadn’t recorded before.”
As we laid down the drum tracks, Lol was singing in the studio with Kevin keeping time – and after we’d laid four drum tracks down Lol’s voice came through at a very high level, sounding like something none of us had ever heard before on a record. It really sounded very strange, so we carried on working on the number, adding little bits of piano to it.
Once recorded, the trio played the song to Dick Leahy of Philips Records who was visiting the studio for potential business. Leahy declared “Neanderthal Man” a “smash” and offered to release it. The song reached number two and hit number one across Europe. An album followed (Thinks: School Stinks) but though highly influential Hotlegs never made the breakthru the trio’s talents desired—that was to come after Gouldman joined in the recording sessions.
This as yet unnamed band played their latest recording “Little Donna” to another visitor—this time pop impresario Jonathan King, who declared “Little Donna” to be a certifiable “smash.” It was the kind of enthusiastic response Godley/Creme/Stewart/Gouldman needed—but they still had no idea what to call their themselves. Then King said he had dreamt last night about standing in front of music venue the Hammersmith Odeon where hoardings announced “10cc The Best Band in the World.” It seemed a perfect fit. The name stuck, a record deal struck and 10cc were born. (An alternate version of where the name came from, disputed by both King and Godley, but confirmed by Creme and Gouldman, is that the band name er… cums from the volume of semen that would be more than the average amount normally ejaculated by most men. Potent!)
Of all the bands that appeared during the 1970s, 10cc was the one that directly followed on and progressed music from where The Beatles left off. 10cc eponymous debut album is their Rubber Soul, while Sheet Music was Revolver, The Original Soundtrack their Sgt. Pepper with How Dare You being their Abbey Road. Not that these albums were copies—they were far, far too good to be that, rather they were innovative progressions that came to shape and influence other bands—from Sparks Queen, XTC, Pulp—and to point towards the future of pop music.
But the original 10cc was not to last. After the four became two in 1976, Stewart and Gouldman continued as 10cc and released a series of finely honed pop albums—most notably Deceptive Bends, while Godley and Creme produced a mega-concept album Consequences (with Peter Cook and Sarah Vaughan) before becoming award-winning pioneers of pop promos (like Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Two Tribes”) while continuing their musical career. A reunion of sorts happened in 1991, with the Gouldman and Stewart penned album …Meanwhile, but the creative polarities that made 10cc one of the best bands in the world was lacking. Maybe now is the time for Stewart, Gouldman, Godley and Creme to lock themselves in a studio, experiment, collaborate, jam for a week and see what happens. The result would definitely be worth listening to.