I am a little unsure as to how 10cc are regarded is this country. For me they were pivotal in bridging the gap between Manchester 60’s acts like The Hollies, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Freddie and the Dreamers, and the 90s “Madchester” bands, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and The Charlatans.
You may be forgiven for thinking that the Manchester Music scene began with “Madchester”, and in a way I suppose for most of us it did. Culturally and musically these bands put the city on the map of the world, it went global. Hacienda nights in Japan are a big deal at the moment, for instance.
As a kid growing up in Manchester, nearby Strawberry Recording Studios in Stockport was an almost mythical place. I lived in Denton, a small town next to Stockport, with dreams of becoming a footballer or a guitarist (neither of these aspirations were realised).
Unknown Pleasures (Joy Division), Movement (New Order), a portion of Some Friendly (The Charlatans), Bummed (Happy Mondays) and Hand in Glove (The Smiths) were all recorded there.
This place was a musical shrine and engineers Chris Nagle and Martin Hannett, two architects of the Manchester sound, worked there too. However, if it was not for 10cc, this revolution may not have happened. The studio was way ahead of the sonic curve. If you listen to I’m Not In Love, recorded at Strawberry, you will know exactly what I mean. Many of the indie classics you know and love were recorded on equipment installed and used by the band.
In the late sixties, Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman joined in a business venture which would enable them to record songs they had written. Along the way they would build an experimental hubristic way of recording their newly formed band 10cc. Joined by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, they would go on to sell millions of records. Gouldman had plenty of previous writing hits for the Yardbirds (For Your Love/Heart Full of Soul), The Hollies (Look Through Any Window/Bus Stop) and Hermans Hermits (No Milk Today).
With writing influenced by the Beatles, along with Beach Boys harmonies and a touch of the Noel Cowards, they developed into something very special and unique. Songs like Rubber Bullets, Donna, Dean and I and of course, the world-wide phenomenon I’m Not In Love were breath-taking, refreshing and funny all at the same time and we loved them. Just to think, this group were having success all over the world, with songs written and recorded just around the corner from where I lived and not only that, they appeared regularly on Top of the Pops. It was mind blowing, a local phenomenon. Up until this point, pop stars lived somewhere else, maybe on another planet but not around the corner from the shopping precinct we used to buy records and hang around in. What 10cc did was bring a far-fetched worldly pop scene closer and we were inspired. In fact I still am.
When I found out Joy Division were recording their debut album at Strawberry with Chris Nagle, it was just too much to take in. I always say that if it was not for Joy Division, I don’t think I would have a career. They gave me hope that anything was achievable and you don’t have to compromise what you believe in.
10cc these days no longer exist in their original form. Kevin Godley and Lol Creme went off to record Cry and Under Your Thumb, eventually becoming the video directors and creatives behind Two Tribes by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and many more. Eric Stewart collaborated with Paul McCartney and has recorded plenty of solo material. Graham Gouldman formed Wax with Andrew Gold and records solo material. His latest solo album is called Love and Work. Graham still flies the banner of 10cc and is out on tour throughout the summer.
Meeting Graham is always a delight and on this week’s show I tell him my Strawberry Studios childhood memories.
He seems delighted to hear them. Thinking back to those halcyon Manchester/Stockport days, still inspire me. Life is a Minestrone.
You can hear Pete talking to Graham Gouldman of 10cc this Saturday at 10pm on Absolute Radio. Listen here