The Manchester-based 10cc were rivaled only by singer/songwriter Randy Newman as multi-level humorists—spanning satire, black comedy, word play, and nonsense verse—within the rock music scene. 10cc also excelled within the realm of pure music—all members were consummate songwriters and studio producers both inside and outside of the band.
10cc was a spin-off of the novelty group, the Hotlegs, famous for the hit, "Neanderthal Man" (Capitol 2886; 1970; #2 UK, #23 US). Hotlegs personnel—vocalist/guitarist/bassist Eric Stewart, formerly with the Mindbenders; vocalist/ guitarist/keyboardist Lol Crème; and vocalist/drummer Kevin Godley—joined forces with ex-Mindbenders vocalist/bassist Graham Gouldman (who’d penned hit songs for the Yardbirds, the Hollies and Herman’s Hermits) in mid-1972. Following several singles—including the British hits, "Donna" (UK/Decca 6; 1972; #2 UK) and "Rubber Bullets" (UK/Decca 36; 1973; #1 UK)—a debut LP, 10cc (UK 53105; 1973; #36 UK), was released, attracting little attention stateside.
By the time a second album, Sheet Music (UK 53207; 1974; #9 UK, #81 US), appeared, favorable reviews and word-of-mouth regarding the band’s rich vocal textures, strong melodic hooks, polished arrangements, and witty song lyrics ensured greater sales. 10cc peaked commercially with The Original Soundtrack (Mercury 1029; 1975; #4 UK, #15 US), driven by the lush ballad, "I’m Not in Love" (Mercury 73678; 1975; #1 UK, #2 US), which featured hundreds of overdubbed voices intoning wry verses such as "I keep your picture upon the wall/It hides the messy stain that’s lying there." The next LP, How Dare You (Mercury 1061; 1976; #5 UK), sold marginally in the U.S. without the presence of a catchy single.
Godley and Crème—widely acknowledged to be the experimental half of the band—departed to work as a duo, releasing the three-disc set, Consequences (Mercury 1700; 1977; #52 UK), which promoted their new "gizmo" guitar device. They would gain recognition as topflight video producers in the 1980s, working with the likes of Herbie Hancock and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Gouldman and Stewart continued at the helm of a less barbed edition of 10cc, releasing Deceptive Bends (Mercury 3702; 1977; #3 UK, #31 US)—which included the hit "The Things We Do for Love" (Mercury 73875; 1976; #6 UK, #5 US), Live and Let Live (Mercury 28600; 1977; #14 UK), Bloody Tourists (Mercury 6160; 1978; #3 UK, #69 US), Look Hear! (Warner Bros. 3442; 1980; #35), Ten Out of 10 (Warner Bros. 7150 048; 1981), and Window in the Jungle (Warner Bros. 28; 1983; #70 UK) prior to dissolving the band in late 1983.
The four original members would reunite in 1991, releasing Meanwhile (Polydor 513279; 1992). Despite limited audience interest, Gouldman and Stewart recorded another LP, Mirror Mirror (Avex 6; 1995), with distribution limited to Great Britain.