Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1  (1970)

- Lol Creme -- vocals, guitar

- Kevin Godley -- drums, percussion, vocals

- Eric Stewart -- vocals, guitar


  supporting musicians (1970)

- Baz Barker -- fiddle

- Mike Bell - sax

- Ian Brookes -- trumpet

- Rod Morton -- percussion

- Mike Timoney -- organ


  line up 2  (1970-71)

- Lol Creme -- vocals, guitar

- Kevin Godley -- drums, percussion, vocals

NEW - Graham Gouldman -- vocals, bass

- Eric Stewart -- vocals, guitar






- Doctor Father

- Festival

- Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders

- Godley & Creme

- Graham Gouldman (solo efforts)

- The Mindbenders

- Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon

- Sliver Fleet

- Eric Stewart (solo efforts)

- Wax (Graham Gouldman)




Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Thinks: School Stinks

Company: Capitol

Catalog:  ST 582

Country/State: Stockport, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor cover wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2745

Price: $20.00

Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart had both been members of The Mindbenders.  With that group's collapse the paid decided to continue their partnership buying Stockport Recording Studios along with Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas road manager Peter Tattersall.  Renamed Strawberry Studios, Gouldman quickly recruited singer/guitarist Lol Creme and drummer Kevin Godley (the pair had previously worked as Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon), to serve as studio sessions players.  With the pair of the payroll, Strawberry Studios became the go-to studio for a steady stream of acts, including US bubblegum czars Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz who used the group to write and occasionally record a string of material for their Super K. Productions acts including Crazy Elephant ('There Ain’t No Umbopo'), The Fighter Squadron ('When He Comes'), The Ohio Express ('Saulsalito').


So what's the old saying ...  something along the lines that sometimes it pays off to be lucky rather than good ?   The popular story is that 'Neanderthal Man' started out as an in-studio jam, meant to test out a new four track recorded at Strawberry Studios.  The group were goofing around with a riff when then-Philips chief Dick Leahy heard the tune and convinced the band to flush it out to a full length track.  To be honest, there wasn't much to the song - the band basically spending four minutes mindlessly chanting "I'm a Neanderthal Man, You're a Neantherdal girl, let's make Neanderthal love, in the Neanderthal world ...


Their name inspired by an attractive Strawberry Studios receptionist, under the name Hotlegs the single was released in 1970:

- 1970's 'Neanderthal Man' b/w 'You Didn't Like It, Because You Didn't Think of it' (Capitol catalog number 2886)  # 22 pop US; # 2 pop UK  


With the single proving a world-wide hit, the trio went into the studio to recorded a supporting album.   Released in 1970, "Thinks: School Stinks" anyone expecting to hear a collection of "Neaderthal Man' styled novelty tunes was going to be disappointed.  That wasn't to imply material like 'Um Wah, Um Wah' and the three part suite 'Suite F.A.' wasn't quirky.  Still, the overall impression was of a collection that Godley, Creme, and Stewart wanted to use as an opportunity to trot out their musical diversity, as in "Look, we can write you a '50s inspired rocker ('Desperate Dan'), or, yeah we have a great ballad for a wedding ('Fly Away').


Always wondered if Alice Cooper ripped of his "School's Out" cover from the Godley and Creme designed cover.



"Hotlegs Thinks: School Stinks" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Neanderthal Man   (Kevin Godley - Lol Creme - Eric Stewart) - 4:10

 I'm guessing the band were as surprised as everyone when it was tapped as a single and when top 40 throughout the world.

  In case anyone's interested, YouTube has a promotional film clip for the song.  Until the dancing girls show up it was possibly the world's dullest promo clip: 

2.) How Many Time   (Kevin Godley - Lol Creme - Eric Stewart) - 3:57   rating: *** star

'How Many Times' opened up with some lovely acoustic guitars, showcasing the trio's knack for crafting sweet, commercial melodies.  The country-tinged ending didn't do much for my ears.

3.) Desperate Dan   (Kevin Godley - Lol Creme - Eric Stewart) - 2:12    rating: ** stars

Neither the pedestrian, '50s-flavored melody, or the throwaway lyrics were going to win these guys any awards.  You had to wonder why Philips thought it warranted being released as a single in Germany and Spain:

- 1970's 'Desperate Man' b/w 'Run Baby Run' (Philips catalog number 6006 079)  YouTube has a clip of the band lip synching the tune on the German Disco television show:  

4.) Take Me Back   (Kevin Godley - Lol Creme) - 5:01   rating: *** stars

It's easy to scoff at the pre-10cc comparisons, but on the sweet ballad 'Take Me Back' the comparisons were justified.  Creme's fragile voice was instantly identifiable and that unique 10vv sound was already in place.  Love the second half where the tune briefly went off in an unexpected heavy rock direction.

5.) Um Wah, Um Wah   (Kevin Godley - Lol Creme - Eric Stewart) - 5:30   rating:**** stars

'Um Wah, Um Wah' was side one's most conventional rocker (take that description with a grain of salt).  With a nifty guitar riff and a tasty, rhythmically dense melody, this one could have been a hit for the trio - well; except for the fact the lyrics sounded like Elmer Fudd singing "rock and roll' with a speech impediment ...  but the guitars kicked collective booty.  


(side 2)

1.) Suite F.A

Complex, multi-part suites were a staple in the 10cc catalog (think along the lines of "The Original Soundtrack"), so it was interesting to hear some some of their early inspirations in the area.

    i.) 1st Movement - On My Way  (Kevin Godley - Lol Creme) -    rating:**** stars

'1st Movement - On My Way' was a pretty, acoustic ballad showcasing the band's sweet harmony vocals.  Very 10cc-ish ...

    ii.) 2nd Movement - Indecision (instrumental)  (Kevin Godley - Lol Creme) -    rating:**** stars

'2nd Movement - Indecision' opened with some dazzling Yardbirds-'Hert Full of Soul' styled fuzz guitar and simply never let up.  Eat your heart out Jeff Beck.   Easily one of the album's highlights.

    iii.) 3rd Movement - The Return   (Kevin Godley - Lol Creme) -    rating:*** stars

I've always liked Stewart's voice, but on the first part of '3rd Movement - The Return' it came off a bit operatic.   Pretty enough tune to start; better when it shifted into the more conventional segment; amazing for the final segment.   

2.) Fly Away   (Kevin Godley - Lol Creme) - rating: *** stars

Another fragile Creme sung ballad with a strong 10cc flavor.  Super pretty with beautiful acoustic guitars and flute backing.

3.) Run Baby Run   (Kevin Godley - Lol Creme - Eric Stewart) -   rating:*** stars

I'm usually not a big blues fan, but with Stewart on lead vocals and Creme providing slide guitar, 'Run Baby Run' had a nice, slinky edge.  This one was released as a US single:

- 1970's 'Run Baby Run' b/w 'How Many Times' (Capitol catalog number )   No idea where it was recorded, but You Tube has a black and white clip of what appears to be a German television performance of the tune: 

4.) All Gods Children   (Kevin Godley - Lol Creme) - 3:48   rating: **** stars

Perhaps it was tongue in cheek, but 'All God's Children' ended the album with a stunning, Beach Boys-tinged ballad.   Nice Ian Brookes trumpet solo.



Interested in a follow--up US single,  Capitol did hear anything to their liking on the album and instead decided to use a non- LP track the group had released themselves under the name of Doctor Father:

- 1970's 'Umbopo' b/w 'Roll On' (Pye catalog number P-2948)


The single followed the album into commercial oblivion.



With Gouldman added on bass, the band hit the road for an English tour opening for The Moody Blues.  Unfortunately, the tour was cancelled when John Lodge got sick.  





After Thinks: School Stinks received worldwide release, it was repackaged (in the UK) by the Philips label in December 1971 (with the previously unissued "Today" replacing "Neanderthal Man") and again in Britain in 1976 as You Didn't Like It Because You Didn't Think of It with two additional songs. The title song of the British repackaged album had originally been the B-side of "Neanderthal Man"; part of it had also been reworked to become "Fresh Air for My Mama" on the 1973 debut album by 10cc.

Thinks: School Stinks was reissued by One Way Records in 1994 on CD. This edition included the line up from the original album release only.

You Didn't Like It Because You Didn't Think of It was reissued by 7T's (a division of Cherry Red) on 22 October 2012. The reissue featured a new cover commissioned for the new release and a booklet with information on the making of the album. The track listing includes all of the original tracks as well as the title track and the US stereo mix for "Neanderthal Man". This was the first CD release for the album which includes all the tracks that Stewart, Godley & Creme recorded as Hotlegs.

The lack of further chart activity saw Hotlegs labelled as a one-hit wonder. In 1972 Hotlegs was relaunched as 10cc.




Simultaneously, Philips repackaged Thinks: School Stinks, omitting both Neanderthal Man and, more surprisingly, Lady Sadie, in favour of The Loser (the flip of Lady Sadie), and Today, a reworking of another Marmalade era song.

Again, it made no impact, and a further repackaging in 1974 met a similar fate. You Didn’t Like It Because You Didn’t Think Of It brought together all the previously available Hotlegs material including, for the first time on album, the title track; the original B-side of Neanderthal Man, You Didn’t Like it had since metamorphosed into Fresh Air For My Mama, the closing track on 10cc’s debut album. Hotlegs did, however, return to the chart that year, albeit as mere session musicians. Kennedy Street’s Harvey Lisberg had recently discovered a new talent named John Paul Jones; not the pop arranger turned Led Zeppelin bassist, explains Gouldman, “but a comedian who had the most wonderful rich voice.” Aware, though he was, that Zeppelin’s Jones already had some claim on the name, Lisberg went ahead with launching his new client’s career. “I still don’t know why he used it,” Gouldman marvels. “It was such a bizarre thing to do! But  Harvey  always liked the name John Paul Jones.”

All four of the Strawberry team played on Jones’ Man From Nazareth single, which was well on its way to being a Christmas 1970 hit when the other John Paul succeeded in getting a court injunction, forcing the artist to respell his surname Joans. The single had already reached #41 on the British chart; in the ensuing chaos, while RAK Records reprinted the label, Man From Nazareth dropped from the charts, reappearing in the New Year, when it rose to #25. (In the  US , the name was truncated to simply John). Its momentum, however, was lost and Joans never followed it up. Strawberry continued opening its doors to an incredible array of talent – incredible, because Stewart remembers being told at the outset of the venture that it was a waste of time and money opening a studio so far from  London . The Scaffold, Mary Hopkin, Barclay james Harvest, Tony Christie, the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, Shep’s Banjo Band, Elias Hunk and the Fourmost (who cut a version of Maxwell’s Silver Hammer under the guise of Format) all passed through the doors in the first few years of the studio.

The Strawberry team were also involved in numerous sessions. The group played on Solomon King’s version of Lynsey DePaul’s When You Gotta Go, Dave Berry, Wayne Fontana and Mike Timoney, a virtuoso on the cordovox, all recorded with them; Peter Cowap teamed up again with Gouldman to cut a trio of singles for Pye, and a fourth, under the pseudonym Grumble, for RCA. The Herman-less Hermits cut around fifty tracks over the course of a year, although only two of them ever saw the light of day; while the Hermit-less Herman, Peter Noone, also recorded a single with Graham, one of several sessions Mickey Most’s RAK label sent Strawberry’s way.

“We were doing sessions and it was terrible,” said Godley. “We did a lot of tracks in a very short time, it was really like a machine. Twenty tracks in about two weeks, a lot of crap really; real shit. We used to do the voices, everything; it saved them money. We even did the female backing vocals!”

Gouldman is more forgiving. “At that period of time, Strawberry Studios was doing everything and anything, and it also was providing work for myself, Eric, Kev and Lol as session musicians, we were the house band.” Comedians, night-club acts, you name it, Strawberry would record it, but the real money spinner came from sport.”

In British chart terms, it was the age of the football (soccer) record; teams of sportsmen trooping into a studio to lend their often dubious vocal talents to their team’s song. Strawberry Studios would be responsible for many of these, including several big hits; Leeds United’s imaginatively title Leeds United even breached the British Top 10, while both of Manchester’s professional teams, United (Willie Morgan On The Wing) and City (The Boys In Blue) enjoyed Strawberry’s services, with the former, an ode to one of the side’s most gifted players, even earning a cover version by the Ted Taylor Orchestra!

“We did the football things,” Gouldman recalls. “We’d be asked and ‘You know, it’s a football record, let’s try and make a good football record, and it’s business for the studio. Who are we to get picky?’ That was our attitude, and at the same time we were doing an album with Neil Sedaka, or an album with Ramases, and I think it showed we could turn our hands to anything, or in other words, there were no depths to which we would not sink.” Of all these projects, Ramases’ Space Hymns remains a genuine favourite. Ramases himself believed he was the reincarnation of the Egyptian Pharaoh of the same name, and Gouldman enthuses, “It was great. It was a really fine album to make. We would sit down on the floor with acoustic guitars, that kind of vibe, very hippy and mystical.”


Lol Creme - Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Keyboards 
Kevin Godley - Drums, Vocals 
Eric Stewart - Guitar, Bass, Vocals 
Baz Barker - Violin 
Graham Gouldman - Bass 
Mike Timoney - Organ

Thinks: School Stinks (Philips 6308 047) 1971 
Songs (Philips 6308 080) 1971 
You Didn't Like It (Sonic SON 009) 1976 
Note: the latter two are repackages of "Thinks: School Stinks".

Neanderthal Man/You Didn't Like It Because You 
Didn't Think Of It (Fontana 6007 019) 1970 
Lady Sadie/Loser (Philips 6308 140) 1971 
Reissue: Neanderthal Man/(Flip by different artist) (Old Gold OG 9245) 1982

Creme, Godley and Stewart had all been members of Manchester's beat scene. Creme's first group was The Sabres, Stewart started out in Jerry Lee and The Staggerlees and was later in The Mockingbirds, which had been formed by Graham Gouldman in 1965. Gouldman was also a talented songwriter who wrote several hits for other artists and made several attempts at a solo career. Stewart first came to light in Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders. When The Mindbenders broke away from Fontana Stewart stayed with them but when they finally split, Stewart and Gouldman bought a recording studio in Manchester. Godley and Creme, meanwhile, released a 45, "I'm Beside Myself", under the pseudonym Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon, on which Stewart and Gouldman played as session musicians. Having done songwriting for the US Kasenatz-Katz production team, the group re-equipped their Manchester studio (now called Strawberry Studios) and wrote and recorded "Neanderthal Man", a song with an extremely distinctive heavy rhythmic backing, which was released as a 45 under the name Hotlegs and became a massive worldwide hit, selling over two million copies. It peaked at No. 22 in the US, but climbed to No. 2 in the UK. Subsequent recordings under this name failed but a couple of years later the same personnel became 10CC.

Their album, "Thinks: School Stinks" included the 45 and "To Fly Away", a Godley/Creme composition, which had previously been recorded for a Marmalade sampler which never saw the light of day. Two other tracks from the album, "How Many Times" and "Run Baby Run" were released on an unsuccessful US-only 45 (Capitol 3043), but nothing more was heard of the band until September 1971 when a very ordinary 45, "Lady Sadie", was released and predictably flopped. Philips later repackaged the album as "Songs", omitting "Neanderthal Man" and "Lady Sadie" in favour of "The Loser" and the previously unreleased "Today". It sold poorly as did the subsequent repackaging, released on Sonic in 1976.

The rudiments of history should be familiar to all. Fresh from the breakup of the Mindbenders, guitaristEric Stewart and songwriter Graham Gouldman opened their own Strawberry Studios in Stockport, England. Joined by Lol Creme and Kevin Godley, but temporarily shedding Gouldman, who promptly relocated to New York, the gang were experimenting with drum sounds when a passing record company executive spotted a hit amongst the hitting -- "Neanderthal Man," the most distinctive smash of 1970, was born, and by year's end the trio was working on an entire album. The fact that only one other track, the tribal joke "Um Wah Um Woh," even glanced in the direction of "Neanderthal Man" lets you know just how seriously Hotlegs were taking their fame. Few people would care about Hotlegs today had the trio (plus the returning Gouldman) not subsequently reinvented themselves as 10cc, and it is reassuring to note that much of that band's instant charm and excitement is already present amidThinks: School Stinks. The 12-minute "Suite F.A." actively fore- and overshadows Godley-Creme's next attempt at elongating their artform, The Original Soundtrack's similarly protracted "Une Nuit a Paris," while the aforementioned "Um Wah" packs a wildly panning guitar solo to die for. Similarly, the angelic ballads which Godley long continued prone to (the lovely "Fly Away," "Take Me Back"); the seering guitar leads which were Stewart's specialty; and the utterly skewed lyrical twists which Creme so relished are all present and correct. Unfortunately, few Hotlegs fans wanted angelic ballads, seering guitar leads, and lyrical twists, and Thinks ultimately became better regarded for its sleeve than its contents -- the school desk stuffed with an unsavory smorgasbord of cigarette butts, broken cookies, titillating pin-ups, a sneaker, odd socks, and an occupied gas mask would later be borrowed by Alice Cooper for School's Out, two years later. Hotlegs' masterpiece would be left to molder for another 24 years, until it finally reappeared on CD with adequate sound and an utterly truncated sle


n some ways the music is fairly straightforward- using acoustic guitar as the base instrument in every song, while occasionally inserting a bit of horns and strings. The harmonies are reminiscent of Crosby, Stills and Nash, (less like the Beach Boys) and the song structures and performances sound a lot like what Stephen Stills and other American rock bands were doing around 1971.

F.A. Suite is probably the strongest song on the album, and it has that multi-songs in a song thing that the Beatles did on Abbey Road. The multi-parts don't always feel entirely connected as they would on later 10cc efforts like Une Nuit A Paris or Don't Hang Up, but the melodies are pretty.

Another good song is All God's Children which sounds like a mixture of early King Crimson (Cadence in Cascade) and Beach Boys idealism ("hey California")- it's a pretty song- but would have disappears in any 10cc album.

Um Wah, Um Woh has it's moments too, it has a good energy to it, but goes on a bit too long.

Everything else including, Neanderthal Man (complete with Neanderthal lyrics and Neanderthal melody and Neanderthal rhythm), has none of that amazing musical force that 10cc would start brewing roughly a years later.

If anything, this album shows a band with potential but lack of focus and vision; something Graham Gouldman gave them when they became 10cc. As the only successful song writer at that point, Gouldman's ability to create a concise pop song seemed to make all the difference in the world.

In summation, this is a pleasant album with moments of creativity, but is far from anything special.
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Format: Audio CD
Hotlegs is the earlier incarnation of 10cc. The album features Lol Creme, Eric Stewart & Kevin Godley and the hit single "Neanderthal Man". While the album flopped(and in the process allowing for the creation of and fresh start for 10cc), it nonetheless has a number of promising moments that would point to the sucess of future 10cc albums.
Lacking the input of Gouldman(who was in America writing schlock pop for the "founders" and creators of "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy"--the Spice girls of their day), the band also lacked some of the songwriting polish that would be an earmarker of the great 10cc albums.
The production is superb. Stewart's fingerprints are all over the production & engineering of this album. "How many times", the great "Um wah, um woh" and "Fly away" all are strong enough to have been considered for the first offical 10cc album. "Suite F.A." points to the mini rock operas Godley & Creme would attempt on 10CC'S THE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK and SHEET MUSIC.
Although not as good as the best even early 10cc, this album paved the way and has all the touches of later 10cc albums. In some respects, I guess, you could call this album 7cc. Well worth owning, although probably not for the casual first time fan.
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In 1971, I attended a Moody Blues Concert in London, and the opening act was called HOTLEGS. They did their big hit, NEANDRATHAL MAN, and a number of complex pop songs, and they seemed to use an accordion synth of some sort. Wondereing what became of them after returning to college in New Hampshire, I wrote to MELODY MAKER magazine (the hip UK music rag) and asked. I'm still surprised and pleased that they wrote back (would that ever happen today?) to alert me to the fact that HOTLEGS was now known as 10CC.

Given where all these fellows went, from 10cc, to Godley & Creme being pioneers in music video production, Eric Stewart playing with Paul McCartney, and Graham Gouldman recording with Andrew Gold, this LP (CD) is a cornerstone for any 10cc fan. Newcomers might start with one of the twenty odd "Best of 10cc" collections to get their feet wet. Then, if you join the rest of us unworthy fans, you will enjoy HOTLEGS.
Hotlegs - Thinks: School Stinks (Philips/Capitol, 1971)
Hotlegs - You Didn't Like It Because You Didn't Think of It
(Philips, 1976)

Eric Stewart / guitar, bass, vocals, synthesizer (Moog), arranger, producer
Lol Creme / guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals, arranger, producer
Kevin Godley / drums, percussion, vocals, arranger, producer
- Graham Gouldman / bass ("Today")
- Baz Barker / flute, violin
- Mike Bell / saxophone
- Ian Brooks / trumpet
- Rod Morton / tambourine
- Mike Timoney / organ
- Cheadle Hulme High School Choir / Vocals on "Suite F.A."
- Tony Harrison / String arrangement ("Today")

10cc fanatic Amy Linthicum bought vinyl copies of these two LPs online and then had them transfered to CD (thanks to Gary Gebler at Trax on Wax) for our digital listening convenience. All I can say is, "Hooray!" forThinks: School Stinks is three-quarters 10cc (7.5cc?) at their prog-rock peak, two years before their titular 10cc debut album with Graham Gouldman. It is, in the words of one fan-critic, "the album many of us wished 10CC would make. It is largely devoid of the too clever for their own good lyrics and structures, the songs being simple, well crafted pop rock numbers." 

I emphasize that last sentence because I think it points to the reason why the supremely over-talented band of musical brothers known as 10cc have been so criminally neglected by pop music historians. Could it be because they were too clever by far for their own good? Too multi-faceted (each member could write, sing, play, arrange, produce) to fit into rock 'n' roll's preferred pigeon-hole classification system of genres (pop, rock, soul, prog, AOR) and roles (i.e., lead singer, lead guitarist, drummer, etc.)

Amy's ears quite rightly heard a heavy Beatles vibe on Thinks School Stinks, especially the later Beatles albums released around this time period - specifically The White Album, Let It Be and Abbey Road. And, speaking of "Neanderthal Man," she astutely pointed out, "You know it's a '70s record when you hear a pop song with flute in it!" My ears found this album to be a synthesis of everything 1970s, with studio production values that rate Thinks School Stinks as a stereo demonstration record - in other words, it sounds great and uses virtually every production trick in the book, from cross-fades, cross-channel zooms (especially effective on Eric Stewart's guitar solos!) to layered overdubs, echo, strings, you name it.

OK, back to the plot...Thinks School Stinks is the album Mssrs. Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and Eric Stewart recorded as Hotlegs (Stewart coined the name in homage to the outstanding attributes of their sexy hotpants-clad Strawberry Studios secretary) to back up their insanely unlikely and massively popular (#2 UK pop charts, #22 US pop charts) reductio-ad-absurdum 1970 hit "Neanderthal Man," which sold two million copies worldwide.

Primal Stomp: "Neanderthal Man"

"Neanderthal Man" was as far from clever as a song could be, basically a sound check with a one-line lyric repeated for the duration of the song. It was so dumb, in fact, that it was the kind of thing that made bottom-line record company suits drool. Rock critic Dave Thompson picks up the story here:
In 1970, Kevin Godley, Lol Crème, and Eric Stewart were, alongside songwriter Graham Gouldman, the house band at the Strawberry Studios setup in Stockport, England. Gouldman was spending much of his time in New York, working as a contract songwriter for the Kasenatz/Katz bubblegum team - his partners remained at home, equipping the studio and testing the new equipment. It was during one of these tests, playing around with a drum kit and a new four-track recorder, that Philips label rep Dick Leahy happened by, heard what they were doing, and pronounced it an instant hit single. 

"It" was a percussive experiment which evolved around a chant of "I'm a Neanderthal man/you're a Neanderthal girl/let's make Neanderthal love" and Leahy's instincts were correct. Restructured and released (under the name Hotlegs) in the summer of 1970, "Neanderthal Man" reached number 22 in the U.S., number two in Britain, number one in Italy, and ultimately sold over two million worldwide. The record was enormous. The Idle Race, heading towards the end of their brief but glorious career, wrested one final hit when they covered the song for German and Argentine consumption. Bandleader James Last included a version on his latest album; even Elton John, eking out a pre-fame career as a jobbing sessioneer, recorded his own distinctive version for a budget-priced collection of sound-alike hits.

Watch the "Neanderthal Man" music video.

"We thought we had it made," Godley thought at the time. "We were on our way baby!...We hit an unexpected nerve with 'Neanderthal Man.' It was one of those lucky accidents that turn into something both interesting and successful, without knowing how or why. When you go back and try to recreate the same circumstances it just doesn't work."

In his excellent glam rock history Children of the Revolution, Dave Thompson describes the events leading up to this unlikeliest of hits. In early 1970, Kevin, Lol and Eric were playing around with all the gear at their Strawberry Studios in Stockport, "strumming, wailing, and banging anything in sight" to test the new equipment coming into the studio. As Kevin Godley recalled to Thompson: "The first musical noises that had any cohesion...started life as an unorthodox drum test featuring fullkit overdubbed onto all four tracks, with Lol singing this spooky, retarded nursery rhyme that got mixed in via the bass drum mike. Like all the early work, it was driven by applied ignorance and adrenalin but we knew we had something. Unfortunately the track got erased but we liked the vibe so much we started again adding recorders, tone generator, anvil, backwards echo until it sounded like nothing else on earth."

Eric Stewart added: "Dick Leahy, from Philips, came in and said 'What the hell's that you're playing?' I said, 'It's a studio experiment; a percussive experiment.' He says, 'It sounds like a hit record to me - can we release it?' And we said, 'Yeah, okay. What should we call it?' 'Neanderthal Man.' And what should we call ourselves? Hotlegs.'We had a girl at the studio, Kathy Gill, who had very, very nice legs and she used to wear these incredible hotpants. Green, leather hotpants. So we called the group, ah, Hotlegs."

The flip side of "Neanderthal Man" was a song called "You Didn't Like It Because You Didn't Think of It," which later became the title of a 1976 Hotlegs compilation LP that simply rearranged the order of the songs onThinks: School Stinks and added four more songs. The second half of the song "You Didn't Like It" would eventually evolve into the 10cc song "Fresh Air for My Mama."

"You Didn't Like It" - cover by Godley and Creme 

Besides "You Didn't Like It," the "new" additional songs on You Didn't Like It Because You Didn't Think of It included "Today" (a reworking of a Godley-Creme song from their days as Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon), and both sides of the 1971 single "Lady Sadie" b/w "The Loser."

In between, Philips repackaged Thinks School Stinks as Songs (issued only in Britain, Germany, and Venezuela), omitting "Neanderthal Man" in favor of "The Loser" and "Today." According to rock critic Dave Thompson,Songs was Hotlegs attempt to nullify the "novelty hit" tag they were burdened with after "Neanderthal Man"'s surprising success:
Hotlegs broke through with a novelty hit, and they never lived it down. "Neanderthal Man" might have proven one of the most distinctive hits of 1970, but that's all it was -- distinctive, a thumping, crashing, grunting novelty its makers would rather have forgotten about completely. Certainly that was how it felt when they delivered their debut album,Thinks: School Stinks, and the suspicion grew even more intense six months later. Booked to open for the Moody Blues on a six-date U.K. tour, Hotlegs knew they could play up to the hit, and be laughed out of sight. Or they could play to their strengths, and maybe win the hearts of a few members of the headliners' audience. They chose the latter course and their U.K. record label, having long since abandoned any hope of any further hits in the "Neanderthal" vein, agreed to give it a go. Hence Songs, essentially a note-for-note reissue of Thinks: School Stinks, with one crucial difference -- no hit single. Both "Neanderthal Man" and the similarly jokey "Desperate Dan" were dumped, in favor of "Today" and the lovely "The Loser," and with the album's sleeve and title similarly revised, Hotlegs set out to try and gain some credibility. It should have worked. Even such minor surgery completely redesigns the album, planting it firmly on the edge of the soft rock boom, with the emphasis on the word "edge" -- even this early on, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme were more or less incapable of writing a straightforward song, while Eric Stewart's guitar playing is seldom short of rock-god revelatory. But "Neanderthal Man" remained a hard act to follow, and Hotlegs were never up to the challenge. By the time they transformed into 10cc, a little over a year later, both band and its album were long, long forgotten.

Stunned by their success, Hotlegs set to work out the album of songs that they hoped would be the antithesis (or antidote) to "Neanderthal Man,"Thinks: School Stinks. Their creativity at a peak, they were clearly inspired to try out all the gizmos the studio had to offer on this long player - and use them they did; in fact, Kevin Godley believes that he and Lol Creme built their first Gizmo guitar prototype during this period (though I don't hear it anywhere on this album). And they took their time, not completingThinks: School Stinks until March 1971, a full nine months after the July 1970 release of "Neanderthal Man." 

Thinks: School Stinks (March 1971)

Songs / Tracks Listing 
1. Neanderthal Man (4:19) 
2. How Many Times (3:57) 
3. Desperate Dan (2:12) 
4. Take Me Back (5:01) 
5. Um Wah, Um Woh (5:30) 
6. Suite F.A.: On My Way/Indecision/The Return (12:53) 
7. Fly Away (2:43) 
8. Run Baby Run (2:50) 
9. All God's Children (4:55)

Total Time 44:20

The first thing that strikes ones eyes is the album cover, designed by Godley and Creme, which depicts a scratched wooden school desk. Alice Cooper must have liked it too, because two years later a similar cover adorned his School's Out LP.

Alice Cooper's "School's Out" LP (1972)

With the exception of the infectious tribal-chant rocker "Um Wah Um Woh," little on this album bears any semblance to the hit "Neanderthal Man" - and the semblance is mainly to do with both songs' irresistable catchiness! (The simplicity of both songs' rote-repetitive lyrical chants makes me think of boozy soccer fans singing away in the terraces; in fact, this may help explain the success of not only "Neanderthal Man," but of other UK terrace-singalong bands like Slade and Oasis - bands that make music easy to interact with in a large crowd). Rather, in the words of Dave Thompson, "Hotlegs revealed themselves to be a very melodic, very gentle musical concern, a far cry from the proto-industrial crashing of 'Neanderthal Man.'" Ah yes, from the primordial ooze of "Neanderthal" arose the evolved, melodic concerns of pre-10cc...

In the interim between hit single and long-awaited support album, Hotlegs' U.S. label Capitol became so antsy for a follow-up single that they released a second, slower (5-minute) version of "There Ain't No Umbopo" - a song Godley-Creme-Stewart had previously released in the U.K. under the name Doctor Father (and which was probably also recorded by Hotlegs under the moniker Crazy Elephant for the Kasenetz-Katz bubblegum factory in the U.S.) - in August 1970. Kevin Godley described "Umbopo" as "one of those runt songs that hung around looking for a home for a long time. Everybody liked it, but couldn't work out where it belonged. I remember Lol coming up with this cool open guitar tuning and two hypnotic chords and us writing the song at my parents' house...forever. It was a long song, about six minutes or thereabouts and it was eventually released under the name Doctor Father." 

Alas, "Umbopo" was not a hit.

Doctor Father - "Umbopo"

Though a follow-up hit to "Neanderthal Man" was not forthcoming, Hotlegs returned to to the charts anonymously at the end of 1970. With Graham Gouldman joining them at Strawberry Studios, they backed John Paul Jones (not the Led Zeppelin bass player but a comedian-turned-singer who Kevin Godley said "had the most wonderful rich voice") on his Christmas hit single "Man from Nazareth/Got to Get Together." A subsequent court order injunction by Led Zep's John Paul Jones forced the comedian to change his moniker to John Paul Joans (in the US market, JPJ was simply renamed "Jones"). The single rose as high as #25 on the UK charts. 

What's in a name?: John Paul Joans

Then, under the guise of the New Wave Band (yes, "New Wave" debuted in 1970!), and with former Herman's Hermit Derek Leckenby in tow, the trio released a cover of Paul Simon's "Cecilia" backed with "Free Free Free" on the Major Minor label. Eric Stewart's "Free Free Free" was the first track he recorded at Strawberry Studios; though Harvey Lisbery is listed as the single's producer, this was an Eric Stewart production all the way.

New Wave Band: "Cecilia"

As Dave Thompson continues:
Undeterred, the trio (augmented by Gouldman) undertook a short British tour supporting the Moody Blues towards the end of 1970, but little more was heard from Hotlegs for another year. Then, in September 1971, they released a new single, "Lady Sadie," while Philips repackaged Thinks: School Stinks as Songs...Songs did no better than its predecessor, and Hotlegs was abandoned -- less than a year later, of course, the three members plus, again, Gouldman, would resurface as 10cc and, this time, enjoy considerably more success. It was at the height of this fame that the Hotlegs material resurfaced once more, as 1974's You Didn't Like It Cos You Didn't Think of It compilation brought together all the previously available Hotlegs material.

Moody Blues & Hotlegs, 1971 Tour Book

Regrettably, the Moody Blues tour did little to win over new Hotlegs fans. As Kevin Godley mused, "Audiences were expecting 'Neanderthal Man' and we were playing Thinks: School Stinks. Consequently, any momentum evaporated, the phone stopped ringing, and it was time for a rethink." 

At this point, I'd like to echo the sage observations of Bob McBeath, who under his nom-de-plume "Easy Livin," rated Thinks: School Stinks - and the four extra songs on You Didn't Like It Because You Didn't Think of It - as follows: "The tracks are pretty much all founded in the acoustic guitars of Crème and Stewart, with occasional additional instrumentation being added as required. The songs are all written by Godley, and Crème, with Eric Stewart also receiving credit on the majority. In some ways, this is the album many of us wished 10cc would make. It is largely devoid of the too clever for their own good lyrics and structures, the songs being simple, well crafted pop rock numbers."

Kevin Godley, in a 1976 interview with George Tremlette (author of The 10cc Story - one of only two books ever written about 10cc), said the album included songs and ideas that he and Lol Creme had intended recording in 1969 with entrepreneur Giorgio Gomelsky for his Marmalade ("the sound that spreads") record label. Gomelsky had named the duoFrabjoy and Runcible Spoon, envisioning them as a sort of English Simon and Garfunkel, a notion Kevin Godley agreed with. 

"Yeah, I can see that," he recalled to rock critic Dave Thompson. "The songs we were writing back then were kinda acoustic, rural-sounding stuff. When you're that kind of age, you are consciously copying someone, and we were probably consciously copying Simon and Garfunkel. It was only later in our careers, when we didn't really have too much time to think, that we started recording stuff that sounded like ourselves." Of Thinks: School Stinks, Godley added, "I still say that was a bloody good album. Most of the tracks were from the Frabjoy period and it's an interesting LP."

Eric Stewart, interviewed in 1976, recalled that Thinks: School Stinkspresented a problem because it was so different from "Neanderthal Man": "It was totally alien to what people were expecting from us. It was a good record, a little ahead of its time. It was similar to the things we are doing now. It was very melodic with chord structures that hadn't been used before – and some of the sounds that we used on that album hadn't been heard at the time."

*** The songs ***


Bob McBeath: "We open with the single "Neanderthal Man", an irritatingly catchy song which may not have much to do with 10CC, but it is undeniably fun." 


BMcB: "How Many Times" is a simple acoustic number with Crosby Stills and Nash like harmonies. Baz Barker adds some effective strings to the latter part of the song."

Midway through this song, a highly stylized string arrangement is introduced, recalling the type of orchestrations Marc Bolan was attempting in his pre-electric Tyranosaurus Rex days.

"How Many Times" was last single (released in the US) from Thinks: School Stinks. Unfortunately, it tanked on the charts. 


"Desperate Dan" - a music hall piano-roll romp in the tradition of The Kinks (who name-check Desperate Dan in "The Village Green Preservation Society") or White Album Beatles at their most playful (think "Honey Pie," "Rocky Raccoon") - is Hotlegs' nod to the tough-as-nails (he shaved his beard with a blowtorch!), cowpie-loving Wild West character from Dudley D. Watkins's British comic strip The Dandy (which remains the world's longest-running comic strip, 1937-present!). And yes, a UK cow-pie (a meat-pie) is quite different from its US equivalent!

Desperate Dan corrals another cow-pie


Listen to "Take me Back."

"Take Me Back" is a mini-symphony of sound and, like "Suite F.A." anticipates later complex 10cc arrangements such as "One Night in Paris" from 1975's The Original Soundtrack. It's a medley of three different motifs, starting off as a pretty ballad with Lol Creme and Eric Stewart's acoustic guitars recalling "Mother Nature's Son" from the Beatles's White Album. Then the middle passage turns into an Eric Stewart electric guitar workout, calling to mind some George Harrison solo from Abbey Road ("I Want You (She's So Heavy"?), only to return back to an acoustic outro.

BMcB: "Take Me Back" is another delicate acoustic piece which offers a further glimpse of the music of 10CC, the vocals once again being particularly notable. The structure of the song is interesting, as it shows a willingness to draw a number of styles into a relatively short piece. 


Listen to "Um Wah, Um Woh."

An absolutely amazing song, and one in which the boys throw in everything but the kitchen sink, production-wise. Highlighted by a stellar Eric Stewart guitar jam-out in the middle.

BMcB: "Um Wah, Um Woh" is a rather unfortunate title for what is actually a pretty good pop song. It may not have the class of 10CC, but it also lacks some of the pretentious indulgences too. 


Listen to "Suite F.A."

BMcB: "Suite F.A." is a three part, 13 minute suite written by Godley and Crème. It is similar in structure to the "One Night in Paris" trilogy which appeared on The Original Soundtrack but with a greater emphasis on acoustic and orchestral sounds. There is no great complexity to individual parts, but mood does change frequently offering at least a hint of prog."

Personally, this makes me think of Side 2 of Abbey Road, which is an unmistakable influence. Godley, for one agreed, telling Dave Thompson, "We just kept going until we had an album, complete with our version of side two of Abbey Road, 'Suite F.A.'"


"Fly Away" was a reworking of a Godley and Creme song that had earlier been released on a Marmalade record label sampler, 100 Proof as "To Fly Away" by Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon - with writing credit erroneously credited to Kevin Godley and Graham Gouldman. Marmalade was the short-lived British record label started in 1967 by pop impresario Giorgio Gomelsky; its roster included the early Godley and Creme band Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon, in addition to Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger, Blossom Toes, and others. The same duo also recorded a Graham Gouldman track for inclusion on 100 Proof, "The Late Mr Great" (about a gentleman whose timekeeping was so bad he missed his own funeral!).

In fact, Gouldman proved to be the connection that brought Kevin Godley, then still a student at art school, to Giorgia Gomelsky's attention. InChildren of the Revolution, Dave Thompson describes how it all happened.
One day in 1969, Gouldman asked Godley to join him at a Marmalade session. The moment Godley opened his mouth to unleash his ethereal falsetto, Gomelsky offered him a record deal. It was, Godley laughed, the prequel to a nightmare.

"More than anything, I recall the life change. The scene is still vivid in my head. A three-hour drive, in howling gale, from one life to another, leaving behind three years at Stoke on Trent College of Art and heading for London, and a totally unknown future. I remember crying and trying not to show it as Lol drove my MG Midget out of the college car park. I was missing everybody there before we even hit the road. I also remember the hood of the car flying up and smacking into the windshield and nearly killing us, then operating the wipers by hand through a crack in the soft top.

Things were calmer in the studio, but only just. "Cut to Eddy Offord behind the control desk at Advision Studios. A small, dark space smelling of last night's session. A whiff of weed and Afghan coats. Very London. Very hip. There was an old Mellotron in one corner, Giorgia, big and rumbling, coming on like a hip Rasputin and me singing in a real studio. Intimidating, impossible, the beginning of everything. When he decided to call us Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon, it was almost the end of everything."

The first song they worked on was "To Fly Away" and Godley recalled it was quite a challenging session. "It was the first time I'd stepped up to a microphone."

As Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon, Godley and Creme began work on an album in September 1969, recording basic tracks at Strawberry Studios with Eric Stewart on guitar and Graham Gouldman on bass; their debut Marmalade single, "I Am Beside Myself/The Animal Song" was released by the end of the month.

"We were more confident for 'I Am Beside Myself,' which had brass arranged by Tony Meehan, late of the Shadows," Godley recalled. "Graham may have played on these sessions. Not one hundred percent sure, but I do remember Keith Tippett being vaguely involved."

Of the Marmalade period, Kevin Godley recounted to Dave Thompson, "We were one of many new artists on a very cool label. We were obviously thrilled when both records came out, but learned a valuable lesson when they promptly disappeared. The rest is more haze than history..."

Indeed, Marmalade folded soon after the Frabjoy and Runcible Spoon single and 100 Proof compilation LP, but Godley had no regrets and valued the experience working in a "real" studio, an apprenticeship that would pay dividends in future. 

"Giorgio certainly had the right attitude. I'm not sure anyone really knew what they were doing, but I think his overriding concern was to document the music that was around; he didn't really think the rest of it through. Full marks to him for being around, though, because nobody else was doing it. He got a lot of bands recorded that no one else would touch." 


"Run Baby Run" is a basic blues rocker in the Canned Heat style, driven along by an insistent cowbell (more cowbell!) and guitar boogie vibe.

The opening lines and percussive rhythm of "Run Baby Run" were later reworked to become the basis for "Art For Art's Sake" on the 1976 10cc album How Dare You!. 


"All God's Children" closes the album on a dreamy lullaby note, with Kevin Godley's angelic falsetto leading the harmony pack as he sings about sunny California (as only a Midlands-born Mancunian can!). Makes me think of "Golden Slumbers" from Abbey Road.

*** Extra Tracks from You Didn't Like It Because You Didn't Think of It ***


I'm so glad Amy purchased the You Didn't Like It Because You Didn't Think of It LP, if only because it contains this exquisite gem that makes the whole album worth it, even if it only contains four new songs. (I like it because she did think of it!) "Today" features all four original members of 10cc, with Graham Gouldman strapping on his bass guitar to play alongside Kevin, Lol, and Eric.

As "Easy Livin" critic Bob McBeath observes, "The song shows that the transition to 10cc was complete, and actually ranks on a par with pretty much anything the quartet recorded under that name. The wonderful arrangement includes orchestration and a great synthesiser ending. For fans of 10cc this is a real lost gem."

Watch/listen to "Today."


Listen to "You Didn't Like It because You Didn't Think of It."

This song, the B-side of "Neanderthal Man," spawned not one but two future 10cc ditties. The first part is an early precursor to the title track of 10cc's 1976 LP How Dare You!, while the second part turns into an early run-through of "Fresh Air for My Mama" (from 10cc's self-titled 1973 debut album).

A future two-fer! 


"The Loser" was the B-side that probably should have been the A-side of Hotlegs' 1971 "Lady Sadie/The Loser" single. A slide guitar fan's wet dream, it makes me think of what Little Feat would sound like if they weren't so boring.

BMcB: "The loser" once again has the sound of an early 10CC song, the upbeat rock melody being basic but functional. 


Released as a single in 1971 as a hopeful followup to "Neanderthal Man"'s success, "Lady Sadie" is a mid-paced funk number that McBeath, for one, thinks should have been left undisturbed. Kevin Godley called it "a fauxRolling Stones song that explored Eric's love of dirty blues guitar. It was so obviously other people's territory. It had a nice feel but it didn't chart. Probably didn't deserve to."


Looking back on Thinks: School Stinks, Godley told Dave Thompson, "It was great just to try to punch above our weight. It's not bad, but it's not us [10cc] yet, is it? At the time, we didn't recognize 'Neanderthal Man' for the inspired piece of nonsense it was. No tune. Stupid lyrics. 'We can do better than this, chaps.' We were young and subconsciously aping our heroes, like you do until the real you shows up, so 'Neanderthal Man' was this bizarre anomaly that pointed one possible way forward but we failed to see it."

Thank goodness. 

In 2006, Godley sampled much of Thinks: School Stinks album for the mid-section of GG06's song "Son of Man" (GG06 being his band with Graham Gouldman, the two musicians once again a dynamic duo, just as before when they were '60s bandmates in The Mockingbirds). (Godley and Creme would later revisit this strategy on 1985's The History Mix Volume 1, when they sampled three 10cc songs as the song "Wet Rubber Soup.") "I could hear something of what we [10cc] eventually became, under all the other influences," Godley recalled later. "In truth, we didn't fully discover our own musical identity until we stopped trying so hard and started feeling."

Bob McBeath sums the LP up by saying, "In all, an album which should be part of the collection of any 10cc fan. There is a wealth of indicators here of how the sound of that band came about, not to mention some fine songs in their own right too. Personally, I rate this album higher than the majority of the 10cc albums which followed."

Now that's high praise, indeed! One thing's for certain: Thinks: School Stinks offers a fascinating look at where music was in 1970 and (especially on tracks like "Today") where four talented lads from Manchester would eventually end up. Or, as Dave Thompson put it. "Take one red-hot axe-man [Eric Stewart] steeped in the stew of the British beat boom and armed with a chart-topping US hit single [The Mindbenders' "A Groovy Kind of Love"]; add the best British songwriter this side of the Beatles [Graham Gouldman, author of "For Your Love," "Bus Stop," "No Milk Today," etc., etc.]; sprinkle on a couple of eccentric art students [Kevin Godley and Lol Creme] and lock them away in a studio of their own. God knows what you'd get today, and nobody was really sure what would happen at the end of the Sixties, either." 

What you got from this mish-mash stew of talents and influences would eventually be called "10cc," a band that made some of the most beautiful, clever and complex music of their era. And on this album, you get to see three-quarters of that entity as a very promising - and very listenable - work in progress.

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Anonymous Amy said...

This is a great post. Very informative. I've been digging for rarer tracks to flesh out my prog-inspired (but definitely not strictly prog) radio show, and I will definitely be on the lookout for Hotlegs.

1:35 PM
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Who knows why, but in 1971 Philips Records decided to repackage the Hotlegs album.