The Tor Guides

10cc, the best worst band in the world!

In Okategoriserade on 24 September, 2010 at 14:12

During the 80s, the CD with its 70 minutes nonstop playing replaced the LP as the format for listening to music. I suppose you all remember the strange feeling finding your old favourite albums in this new strange but compact format. And all those compilation CDs that flooded the market on behalf of all profit hungry record companies, expecting to make yet a buck on something that the world almost had forgotten! Almost like the heydays of the gold rush.

During the late 80s I purchased an unbecoming and anonymous CD compilation as a companion on a three-hour car drive back home. The CD, containing the first two 10cc albums, 10cc and Sheet Music, the only two original albums that were released on Jonathan Kings UK Records. I had of course already bought and worn out both those LPs, duly cheered by the great press they received at the time of their release in the 70s.

On the drive back home I put my new CD on in my newly purchased portable CD player – remember them? The first thing that struck me was the fact that I still new almost all lyrics by heart. Though I was well aware of my rather manic input of music during the 70s, I had never expected that 10cc would have made such an impact on me – maybe that´s the stuff that makes up os pop nerds? The other thing that struck me was how fresh and modern, or rather timeless, the music and the production was.

An additional 20 some years has passed since that drive and the CD as an audio format has in many ways been passed by others. I still try to carry out the old ”10cc test”, to see if the records still stand the test of time; strangely I´ve found that even though the years pass by seemingly unnoticed, I find those old records becoming more modern and contemporary for every year.

I read an interview with Graham Gouldman some time ago, he felt that 10cc never has gotten the appreciation they duly deserved – and I´m not the one to contest him. Maybe the reason is the often too clever and tounge-in-cheek lyrics and the often complicated arrangements, I don´t know – maybe you should´t be too smart if you want to be considered as serious, perchance?

One of the things that struck me about 10cc was the loose contours and positions in the band. They all sang – and sang heavenly – and swapped instruments as if it was the most natural thing to do. And in a world where no drummer sings the lead vocals, Kevin Godley simply left the drum stand to enter center stage, with a stand in drummer picking up the sticks. Another thing that I admired early on was the very subtle distorted guitar sounds that came out of Lol Creme´s and Eric Steward´s Fender amps. I own one myself but have never been able to make it sound as good.

I never got to see 10cc live but caught a studio show at Swedish TV in the mid 70s and the memories of that still haunts me with delight. Today we all use Youtube to find our old favorites and, for a short while, fool ourselves into believing that we´re still teenagers and nothing has ever – or will ever – change. I suppose that is one of the great tricks for anyone moving closer to the magical 50. Through Youtube I´ve found clips from the very same TV show. It still amazes me and in a way it joins my past with the present in a comforting way. To paraphrase some old wild men, even though it may not be the proper place – ”Now who would have guessed Milton´s Paradise Lost could be found?”

After the two first albums on my CD the band left Jonathan King´s label for the more poisonous Mercury Records, some years later immortalized by Graham Parker. The Original Soundtrack from 1975 was both a critical and commercial success and featured distinctive cover art created by the Hipgnosis team and drawn by musician and artist Humphrey Ocean, of Kilburn & the Highroads and Stiff Record fame. It´s fair to say that 10cc wrote the template later used by Queen for Bohemian Rhapsody with its first track on the album, the mini suite Une Nuit a Paris: Pt. 1, One Night in Paris Pt. 2 and The Same Night in Paris (”Is he gonna buy…or is he gonna fall in love the all American way”).

However, the first single from that album was Life is a Minestrone. I used to listen closely and carefully to the odd sound waves on the AM band that made up Tuesday evenings top list on Radio Luxemburg, a long way from my kid´s room in Sweden. I used to find that a great song but by time my favourites have changes, pretty much like myself. The song I most often return to is Flying Junk, with its strange and druggy vocal mix. ”Oh, he´s a wild one”. Surely!The Original Soundtrack also contained the ever popular I´m not in love, which came to be after rather hefty studio experimenting.

The fourth and last album with the original lineup was How Dare You! from 1976, still with the Hipgnosis team as the sleeve designer. At that time I had started to change from smooth mellotrons to Wilko Johnson´s choppy Telecaster but no-one can say that the album wasn´t a great farewell note. I hung on to the band some more albums, as well as the Consequences album by Godley & Crème but it never really got to be the same again. Of the odd songs that still caught my attention, maybe the best is the semi-silly/sweet The things we do for love from the 1977 album Deceptive Bends, with its brilliant conclusion that ”communication is the problem to the answer“.

The wizards from Strawberry Studios has no doubt left a lasting mark in the history of pop and to me, there´s no doubt that 10cc is the only band that really qualify for the title The new Beatles.

Finally, some simple trivia. The band name 10cc represents the volume of semen that is more than the average amount ejaculated by men, thus emphasising their potency or prowess. It may be less notorious that the same amount also provided The Lovin’ Spoonful with its band name, joining the two pop groups together in a strange way. And since Eric Clapton, who left The Yardbirds due to the release of their successful single For you love, written by Gouldman, has made Willie Dixon´s Spoonful into his trade mark, there may be more hidden relationships to be found…

Here, have a taste of the best worst band in the world, explaining how I´m not in love came to be.

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