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10cc sings about the darker side of life at Cropredy

August 12, 2013

9V7B106310cc, the pop-rock band that produced hits such as “I’m Not In Love”, “Rubber Bullets” and “The Wall Street Shuffle” in the 1970s, is still bringing fans to their feet with its against-the-grain lyrics about the darker side of life.  But don’t expect new songs any time soon.

Co-founder Graham Gouldman, who has been on the road with most of the current version of the band since 1999, is acutely aware that the lineup on stage now is not the original band that penned its most popular tracks.  Although it has two members who joined 10cc in the 1970s, it is not enough for Gouldman to consider going into the studio to put together an album of new songs.

It would not be “moral”, Gouldman told Reuters, given that his main co-authors with 10cc are not there.  “We are very transparent about this Mark 3 10cc and who is in it,” he said. “I draw the line at recording new material under 10cc. It’s mainly a gut feeling that it’s wrong to do that.”

Gouldman, however, is happy to work with his old and new colleagues at events such as last week’s Fairport’s Cropredy Convention, a festival in England’s rural Oxfordshire that mixes the old with the new, and at which 10cc headlined. “I am here to bring the music of 10cc to people,” he said, before taking the stage for a performance that for many present was as nostalgic as it was slick.

10cc’s music is more complex than its pop-rock genre might suggest. Harmonies constantly change and rhythms switch throughout. But it is the lyrics that are often the standout: they are thoughtful, at times almost subversive. Many of the young men with flowered shirts and flared trousers or women in short skirts and platform heels back in the ’70s might have missed the fact that they were dancing to songs about the shadowy side of human nature.

“The Wall Street Shuffle”, for example, is all about unfettered capitalist greed. “Rubber Bullets” is about police brutality. “The Second Sitting for the Last Supper” is about the disconnect between the real world and the one promised by Jesus. Even the big “slow dance” number “I’m Not In Love” is about a macho kid who can’t accept that he is smitten. He says he only keeps his girl’s picture on the wall to hide a stain.

Gouldman says the years have done little to water down the lyrics.  He said people still relate to songs like “The Wall Street Shuffle”, a title that came to the band as it drove through New York’s financial district decades ago.

“How often do we get stories about greed and banks? The subject is eternal.”

This is an edited version of an article I wrote for my main employer, Reuters. Photo credit: Colin Clarke.


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