Masterclass in songs of the Sixties
AS part of 10CC, Graham Gouldman wrote and performed some of the most technically brilliant hits of the seventies.
Produced to the nth degree, the records were a masterclass. But Graham has always been more than a quarter of a band; before he was in 10CC, he had written some of the most memorable hits of the sixties.
For The Hollies, he wrote Bus Stop and Look Through Any Window, Herman’s Hermits did No Milk Today, and The Yardbirds had hits with Heart Full of Soul and For Your Love.
As part of Wax with American Andrew Gold, he enjoyed success with Bridge To your Heart and Thank You for Being a Friend: all those hits, plus he recently released his first solo album for 12 years, with Love and Work, which has cemented his place in the list of great British songwriters.
When touring with 10CC, in recent years he has actually been his own warm- up act, as he plays acoustic versions of the songs he has written, accompanied by his bandmates, Rick Fenn, Mick Wilson and Mike Stephens, who will also be with him on this tour.
“It started out about three years ago.” Graham tells me, relaxing at his home. “The promoter wouldn’t provide an opening act and I think it’s good value to have one, so I thought I’d do it myself.”
Up to that point, Graham, who comes from Broughton, Salford, had performed his older songs about half-way through the 10CC shows.
“This enabled me to play my older stuff at the start and make the main show a ‘pure’ 10CC set – and people really liked it. The promoter then contacted my agent and suggested I extended the acoustic part and make it a full show.”
He says t it will be a ‘different experience’ for the audience and is a like an experiment.
“As it will be totally acoustic with no electric instruments at all, people will be hearing some of the songs as they were originally conceived. But it isn’t always easy to translate a song with a full electric treatment into an acoustic one. You have to compromise and leave things out.”
Take I’m Not In Love: there is no way you can do it the same as the record, especially as there were many overdubs.”
But it can work to a song’s advantage, I said.
“Well, you do get to hear a song in a new light, and some of the songs really suit an acoustic makeover. Good Morning Judge has a distinct country feel to it now.
And people really like our ‘new’ versions of Bus Stop and No Milk Today because of the harmonies.”
The show itself falls into roughly distinct sections.
“There’s the sixties material, the 10CC songs, the work I did with Andrew Gold and my solo work. There are about four songs from my new album that we’ll be doing, two of which – Memory Lane and Daylight – being songs we do in the 10CC shows. There will be quite a mixture in the set, I’ve got a list of about 25 songs to work through.”
And he is confident of the outcome.
“I know they’ll work and some songs will take you by surprise.”
One of the things Graham is looking forward to is playing his new songs.
“Of course, there’s something very refreshing about playing new songs, and playing old songs a different way.”
Also, he is considering doing a Question and Answer section.
“The venues we are playing are intimate enough to try that and it’s something I’ve never done before I’m really looking forward to it, as it’s gonna be different.”
Graham Gouldman, with Rick Fenn, Mick Wilson and Mike Stephens, will take the Heart Full of Songs tour to venues around the country between April 11 and May 5.
Tickets are available from the Box Offices and all the usual agencies.