Graham Gouldman (Graham Gouldman Thing)


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 2 (1980)

- Paul Burgess -- drums, percussion 

- Rick Fenn -- guitar, backing vocals 

- Graham Gouldman -- vocals, guitar, bass, percussion

- Duncan Mackay -- keyboards, backing vocals 

- Stuart Tosh -- backing vocals 

- The Fraternal Order of All

- Garden Odyssey

- The Graham Gouldman Orchestra

- The High Society

- Hotlegs

- The Mindbenders
- The Mockingbirds
- 10cc

- Wax

- The Whirlwinds

 


- Wax


 

Genre: pop

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Graham Gouldman Thing

Company: RCA Victor

Catalog: LSP-3954

Year: 1967

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4626

Price: $80.00

Having been a professional musician for some four decades, singer/guitarist/writer Graham Gouldman is an interesting case story.  Even though he's enjoyed considerable success as a musician (notably through his work with 10cc), most people would probably be surprised to see his extensive resume as a writer. Gouldman's been recording since 1964, working with a string of little known bands, including The Whirlwinds and The Mockingbirds (see separate entries). 1966 found him stepping into a little noticed and short-lived solo career. A brief stint with The Manchester Mob proved equally unsuccessful. 

By the mid-1960s Gouldman had carved out a name for himself as a writer, placing hit material with a wide range of outside acts including 'Listen People' for Herman's Hermits, 'Bus Stop' for The Hollies, 'Pamela Pamela' for Wayne Fontana and the Mindbreakers, and 'For Your Love' for The Yardbirds.  With that track record behind him, 1968 found Gouldman relocating to the States where RCA Victor quickly signing him as a solo act.  Co-produced with Herman Hermit's Peter Noone (John Paul Jones of future Led Zeppelin fame credited with orchestral arrangements), 1968's "The Graham Gouldman Thing" featured an interesting mixture of  hits he'd penned for others and newer material. Up tempo and commercial pop, Gouldman had a likeable if occasionally anonymous voice, displaying a nifty knack for penning irritatingly catchy melodies.  Nothing here was as cutesy as his forthcoming Hotlegs or the 10cc catalog, though 'Pawnbroker' served as a precursor of that future direction.  Highlights included the English single 'Upstairs, Downstairs', his version of 'For Your Love' and 'No Milk Today'.   It's also an album that I've become increasingly fond of; witness I gave it an extra star the last time I played it (it's also on my iPod).

 

 

"The Graham Gouldman Thing" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Impossible Years   (Graham Gouldman) - 2:35
Complete with Baroque orchestration, 'The Impossible Years' made it clear Gouldman had been listening to 'Yesterday'.  The thing is that whereas most 'Yesterday'-styled songs such, Gouldman was smart enough to make sure the song had a killer hook.  Fantastic effort.    rating **** stars

2.) Bus Stop   (Graham Gouldman) - 2:21

It's ironic that folks associate The Hollies with 'Bus Stop'.  True they had a massive hit with the song, but judging by the Gouldman original they seem to have done a straight rip off his version.  Surprised The Hollies didn't simply wipe off Gouldman's vocal tracks and slap their vocals on ...    rating **** stars

3.) Behind the Door   (Graham Gouldman) - 3:34

A pretty, but pompous and forgettable ballad, two thirds of 'Behind the Door' didn't do much for me.  The exception was the two thirds of the way into the track where there was an abrupt tempo change with the song ending as a rocker.    rating ** stars

4.) Pawnbroker  (Graham Gouldman) - 2:59

As briefly mentioned, 'Pawnbroker' highlighted Gouldman's knack for clever lyrics.  The also sounded like a near-perfect Al Stewart knockoff.  Great acoustic guitar made it one of my favorite performances.    rating **** stars

5.) Who Are They   (Graham Gouldman) - 2:00

'Who Are They' was a nice atmospheric rocker and one of the few tracks where Gouldman made no attempt to embedded a pop feel on the results.  Great song with a lyrical turn that's always made me smile -  "drip-dry dressed unshrinkable ...'  My choice for the standout performance.    rating ***** stars

6.) My Father   (Graham Gouldman) - 2:42

Another pretty ballad, but 'My Father' was just to sensitive singer/songwriter for me.   Yech!    rating * star

 

(side 2)

1.) No Milk Today   (Graham Gouldman) - 2:12

Herman's Hermits enjoyed a hit with their cover ...  not a surprise since 'No Milk Today' was clearly written with an ear for top-40 success.  Anyone who enjoyed The Hollies mid-1960s catalog (including 'Bus Stop') was bound to fall in love with this one.   The song was released as an American single:

- 1968's 'No Milk Today' b/w 'The Impossible Years' (RCA Victor catalog number 45-9453)   rating *** stars

2.) Upstairs, Downstairs   (Graham Gouldman) - 2:15

Like the previous track 'Upstairs, Downstairs' was clearly written to ensure commercial acceptance, but this time around it seemed to have been penned with a distinctive Mersybeat flavor - the mix of acoustic guitar hook and the Hollies-styled harmonies may have been extremely calculated, but made it impossible to shake out of your head.   The song was released as a UK single:

- 1968's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' b/w 'Chestnut' (RCA Victor RCA 1667)  rating ***** stars

3.) For Your Love   (Graham Gouldman) - 2:31

'For Your Love' was probably the biggest surprise to my ears.  The Yardbirds version remains the classic take, but it's surprising to hear how much of Gouldman's original arrangement and vocal delivery they kept.  RCA also tapped the tune as the US single:

- 1967's 'For Your Love' b/w 'Pamela, Pamela' (RCA victor catalog number 47-9584).    rating ***** stars

4.) Pamela, Pamela   (Graham Gouldman) - 2:09

'Pamela, Pamela' was one of those English pop-psych-meets-vaudeville efforts that you either love, or hate with a passion.  I'm in the former category, so think the track's great.  How many other rock songs can you thing of that name check Laurel and Hardy?    rating **** stars

5.) Chestnut (instrumental)   (Graham Gouldman) - 3:21
The album ended with the unexpected soul-influenced instrumental 'Chestnut'.  Technically I guess it wasn't a true instrumental since Gouldman blurted out some English garden narrative nonsense halfway through.  Surprisingly funky and would have made Steve Cropper proud ...    rating **** stars

 

Unfortunately, like his earlier efforts, the set was greeted with commercial indifference.  For some reason RCA tapped the album for a different single in Canada - 'No Milk Today' b/w 'The Impossible Years' (RCA victor catalog number 47-9453).

 

 

Gouldman subsequently signed with Kasenatz-Katz Productions, serving as a staff writer and studio musician (he provided the lead vocals for a number of Kasenatz-Katz acts - Ohio Express's 'Sausalito (Is the Place To Go)'). The early-1970s found him collaborating with Kevin Godley and Eric Stewart in Hotlegs and 10cc.

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Animalympics

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4810

Year: 1980

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5375

Price: $30.00

 

On a hiatus from 10cc after Eric Stewart was involved in a near fatal traffic accident, some 22 years after his last solo effort Gouldman wrote and recorded a new song for the soundtrack for the quickly forgotten Farrah Fawcett flick "Sunburn" (Arrival catalog number NU 9540).  Recorded with the rest of 10cc (sans Stewart), Gouldman originally planned to release the track as a 10cc effort, but after Stewart objected Gouldman released it as a solo effort. 1979 saw the single 'Think About It' b/w 'Sunburn Mer Sunny' (Mercury catalog number SUNNY1) pulled from the soundtrack.  In the UK the single hit # 45 on the charts.  For anyone curious, there's a copy of the promotional video on YouTube:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSIvsn-eS3U

 

As part of planned coverage of the 1980 summer and winter Olympics, NBC television commissioned a series of animated features starring animals in Olympic-styled competition.  On a hiatus from 10cc after Eric Stewart was involved in a near fatal traffic accident, Graham Gouldman was hired to write and record a companion soundtrack.  Unfortunately world politics intervened in the form of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  The Carter administration subsequently boycotted the summer Olympics which were held in Moscow and other than a handful of festival screenings, plans for a widespread release of the Animalympics film were scuttled.

 

VHS release of the film

 

Released some 21 years after his solo album debut, 1980's "Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Animalympics" must have set some sort of record in terms of time span between solo efforts.  Interestingly, with Gouldman gathering up the rest of 10cc (less Stewart), for all intents and purposes the end result was another 10cc studio album.  With Gouldman responsible for writing all ten tracks, the sound was certainly unmistakable - glistening and highly polished top-40 pop that was every bit as good as recent 10cc album.  If anything, with partner Stewart temporarily out of the picture, tracks like the rocker  'Underwater Fantasy', the ballad 'Away From It All', and 'Born To Lose' were even more commercial than recent 10cc releases.  Ironically in the wake of President Carter's decision to cancel American participation in the 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow, I can remember stacks of the album being piled up in record stores as cutouts. My local Penguin Feather couldn't even give the thing away.   I imagine truckloads ended up in landfills, or being recycled.  Now it's a surprisingly hard album  to find.  Makes you wonder whether it had been marketed as a 10cc release it might well have proved a big seller.

 

 

      

               Back cover painting -

           nice leisure suit there guy

  

"Animalympics" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Go For It   (Graham Gouldman) - 3:34

'Go for It' opened the album with a rather faceless disco-lite number with plenty of synthesizers and even syndrums - harmless, but not exactly the creative zenith of Gouldman's career.   rating: ** stars

2.) Underwater Fantasy   (Graham Gouldman) - 3:18

Well, dropping the disco-influences in favor of a more conventional pop-rock framework,  'Underwater Fantasy' was a step in the right direction.  Always loved the multi-tracked harmonies and Gouldman's tuneful bass work.   rating: *** stars

3.) Away From It All   (Graham Gouldman) - 2:32

'Away From It All' was a pretty, if somewhat bland radio friendly ballad.  Very 10cc-esque feel on this one.   In the States and the UK the song was pulled as a promotional single:

- 1980's 'Away from It All' b/w 'Away From It All' (A&M catalog number AM-2251).  rating: ** stars

4.) Born To Lose   (Graham Gouldman) - 4:04

Gouldman always had a knack for catchy, poppy melodies and 'Born To Lose' was certainly a prime example of the gift.   Always loved the hyperactive Hammond solo, but the song still seemed incomplete; almost like a demo that was never completed.   rating: *** stars

5.) Kit Mambo   (Graham Gouldman) - 4:30

I guess if you were a six year old the African tribal rhythms and jungle sound effects of 'Kit Mambo' were kind of cool.   Otherwise, not so much ...   No idea why, but n Germany this tune was tapped as a single:

- 1980's 'Kit Mambo' b/w 'Bionic Boar'  (Mercury catalog number 6059296).    rating: ** stars

 

(side 2)

1.)  Z.O.O. (instrumental)   (Graham Gouldman) - 3:29

The instrumental 'Z.O.O.' sounded like a piece of incidental film music; more along the lines of something Mark Knopfler might have penned for 'Local Hero' than something written for a cartoon.   Quite a lovely melody until the orchestration took over and turned it into dreck.   rating: *** stars

2.) Love's Not For Me (Rene's Song)   (Graham Gouldman) - 2:42

One of his prettiest ballads (okay, the accordion has always struck a chord with me).  In the UK and much of Europe  it served as the second single:

- 1980's 'Love's Not for Me' b/w 'Bionic Boar' (Mercury catalog number 7-42979).

3.) With You I Can Run Forever   (Graham Gouldman) - 4:04

One of the album's most top-40 ready tune with wonderful harmony vocals and plenty of jangle-rock guitar..   Surprising it wasn't tapped as a single.   rating: **** stars

4.) Bionic Boar (instrumental)   (Graham Gouldman) - 3:35

Throwaway synth-dominated instrumental.  Guess he needed something to pad the running time.  rating: ** stars

5.) We've Made It To The Top   (Graham Gouldman) - 3:53

Gouldman at his Hallmark commercial best ...   Surprising this wasn't licensed to some sportsware manufacturer, or professional sports league.   The song was also released as a Dutch 45:

- 1980's 'We've Made It To the Top' b/w 'Kit Mambo' (Mercury catalog number 6059 302)

 

 

Couple of related tidbits - the album's never been released on CD, but there's a website devoted to such a project:

 

http://www.kkwow.com/album/index.shtml

 

You can also see virtually the whole film on YouTube.  It's been broken down into nine segments.  The quality isn't great, but I've included links to each segment:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2Zs3607vQs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ox0eIylJ_OE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-EyxrdO49g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3oLrWfZL_Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJhPI68pnHw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldLMm59YTnA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW9IIoY3ICk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iryFOvtKJs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSsPRCuqIt4

 

 

 

 

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