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Biography by Jason Ankeny
Deriving their name from the metric total of semen ejaculated by the average male, the tongue-in-cheek British art-pop band 10cc comprised an all-star roster of Manchester-based musicians: vocalist/guitarist Graham Gouldman was a former member of the Mockingbirds and the author of hits for the Yardbirds, the Hollies, Herman's Hermits and Jeff Beck; singer/guitarist Eric Stewart was an alum of Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders; and vocalists/multi-instrumentalists Kevin Godley and Lol Creme were both highly regarded studio players. Formed in 1970, 10cc began as a session unit dubbed Hotlegs; after establishing residence at Stewart's Strawberry Studios, Hotlegs scored a surprise U.K. smash with the single "Neanderthal Man," subsequently issuing an LP, Thinks: School Times and touring with the Moody Blues.
After signing to Jonathan King's U.K. label and rechristening themselves 10cc (a name suggested by King himself), the group backed Neil Sedaka before recording 1972's "Donna," a sly satire of late-'50s doo wop. The single reached the number two position on the British charts, establishing not only a long-running string of major hits, but also the quartet's fondness for ironic and affectionate reclamations of musty pop styles. The follow-up, "Rubber Bullets," topped the charts in 1973, and both the subsequent single "The Dean and I" (a nostalgic look at academia recalling Jerry Lee Lewis' "High School Confidential") and an eponymously titled debut LP further solidified 10cc as a major force in British pop.
While 1974's Sheet Music and singles, including the Brian Wilson-esque "Wall Street Shuffle," "Silly Love" and "Life Is a Minestrone" continued 10cc's dominance of the U.K. charts, they found the American market virtually impenetrable prior to the release of 1975's "I'm Not in Love," which topped the charts at home and climbed as high as number two in the States. After 1975's Original Soundtrack and the next year's How Dare You!, Godley and Creme exited to focus on video production as well as developing the Gizmo, a guitar modification device the duo invented. In the wake of their departure, Gouldman and Stewart continued on alone, enlisting the aid of session men to record 1977's Deceptive Bends, highlighted by the perennial "The Things We Do for Love."
After recruiting guitarist Rick Fenn, keyboardist Tony O'Malley and drummer Stuart Tosh as full-time members, 10cc returned in 1978 with Bloody Tourists, which yielded the number one reggae nod "Dreadlock Holiday." Following a series of unsuccessful efforts, including 1980s Look Hear?, 1981's 10 Out of 10 and 1983's Window in the Jungle, the group disbanded; while Stewart produced Sad Cafe and worked with Paul McCartney, Gouldman supervised recordings for the Ramones and Gilbert O'Sullivan before joining Andrew Gold in the duo Wax. In 1992, the original lineup of 10cc reunited for the LP Meanwhile, while only Gouldman and Stewart remained for 1993's Mirror Mirror.
Review by Michael Ofjord
Displaying a command of pop styles and satire, 10cc showed that they are a force to be reckoned with on their first album. Hooks abound, harmonies shine, and instrumentation is dazzling without being overdone. Though charges of "self-consciously clever" could be leveled at the group, their command of witty, Anglo-styled pop is so impressive that even those criticisms must be weighed against the mastery of styles. All four members sing lead and are talented songwriters, and this leads to a wide variety of styles that add to their vision. Featuring their number one U.K. hit "Rubber Bullets," 10cc wade through ten selections of satire and parody. One of the best is "Johnny Don't Do It," a parody of all the "death discs" of the late '50s and early '60s (the misunderstood "bad but really good" guy who is killed in a wreck). More contemporary and bitingly sarcastic is "Headline Hustler," a commentary on the ravenous, scandal-hungry media. Medical facilities and the treatment afforded there is given ripe 10cc commentary in "The Hospital Song." ("And when I go, I'll die of plaster casting love.") Whether doing loving parodies of the music they grew up with or satirizing contemporary issues, 10cc show themselves to be top-level purveyors of pop on their debut recording. Some might criticize the group for being too self-satisfied with their own intelligence, but there is no denying the true craftsmanship and humor on their 1973 debut.
1 Rubber Bullets
3 Johnny Don't Do It
4 Sand in My Face
5 Speed Kills
6 The Dean and I
7 Ships Don't Disappear in the Night (Do They?)
8 The Hospital Song
9 Fresh Air for My Mama
10 Headline Hustler
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