10cc’s Three Yids and a Yok? How Dare You!

8th November 2016


Title: How Dare You!

Label: Mercury

If you want to know about 10cc, then buy 1976’s How Dare You! It offers a band biography on a piece of vinyl: beautiful melodies, wit, an avant-garde slant to song writing and an essential, irreverent quality. The latter revealing a refreshing, down-to-earth nature of a band with no drug problems, no-one went to rehab, no one committed suicide and no drummers spontaneously combusted. Maybe that’s because the group were pretty grounded as people. Although band member, Graham Gouldman, did declare that 10cc were, “…pop, albeit an extreme version. That’s because we had four pretty odd minds. Things can happen when you’re free and easy with ideas and encouraged by the other lunatics around you.”

Not many people realise that 10cc were the biggest Jewish band to come out of Britain. All, except Eric Stewart (brother in law to Lol Creme), were of the Jewish faith.

In fact, for a short time, during those early days, the band were going to be called ‘Three Yids and a Yok’, “It was a joke, really,” explained Gouldman (who almost became a Rabbi). “We never would have done it. It would have been offensive to Eric and it would have been offensive to us! Eric was fine about it, though. We explained the derivation of the word and he knew that ‘yid’ was detrimental to a Jewish person.”

Fairly recently reissued on vinyl by Music On Vinyl (www.musiconvinyl.co.uk), How Dare You! was the band’s fourth album release after 1975’s The Original Soundtrack, famous for its inclusion of, I’m Not In Love. How Dare You! did feature two excellent singles of its own: I’m Mandy Fly Me and Art For Arts Sake. For Mandy, despite the subsequent stories of drug references relating to LSD and Mandrax, band member, Eric Stewart pointed at, “American Airlines,” which displayed a poster of, “…this gorgeous stewardess inviting you onto the plane. I remember seeing, in Manchester, this beautiful poster and just below it was this tramp. I mean a serious tramp, quite a raggedy guy, looking up at this girl and I thought God, do you know, there’s a song there.”

So Eric took the idea back to the band in the studio…who hated it. Until drummer, Kevin Godley, decided to juggle with the song and its direction, “We changed the rhythm and put two whacking great guitar solo’s in there, in the middle of this quiet, soft, floaty song. Once we’d got that idea in, it just gelled into something else.”

The other single, Art for Arts Sake derived from an idea by Graham, whose father used to use the words as a personal saying. As a piece of ‘art’, the album itself is full of imagination, creativity and experimentation with arrangements that challenged the nature of song-writing as well as the running order that was quite daring. At that time, a vocal band starting an album with a complex instrumental, such as the title track, was unusual while I Wanna Rule the World, featuring a victim of bullying who plans revenge by taking over the planet, is sheer music hall. Don’t Hang Up, meanwhile, proves that the band could address the complexities of human relationships.

The latter, in fact, is reflected in the iconic artwork, created by Hipgnosis. Co-founder, Storm Thorgerson commented, “It took a whole month before I was able to reduce How Dare You! to some workable bottom line. In this case it was that there were a lot of connections in the lyrics involving puns and unlikely word associations. As soon as I said that to Peter (Christopherson – partner in the company) he suggested telephones, because they connect, of course, and we both immediately thought of that old film thing of split-screen phone conversations. We chose characters and situations from the songs and then added a sub-plot involving the couple that appear in every shot, in the desk photo or behind the blonde lady where we see them getting out of the car. This sad lady in the foreground is a gin soaked housewife, wasting away in rich suburbia, whilst her smooth businessman husband works too hard and consequently neglects her. He is furious at being interrupted at work, again. How dare she! The inner spread for the album is a paranoid nightmare about going to a crowded party and being totally unable to talk to anyone – better to be on the blower than face somebody directly.”

Well mastered by Music On Vinyl, the reissue includes the original gatefold and insert.