Previously concealed slice of 10CC’s psychedelic prehistory uncovered for the listener to see and savor.
Kevin Godley and Lol Creme’s music has always been almost impossible to categorize, yet back in the late ’60s it smelled of patchouli and absurd so strongly that, smitten with the duo’s melodies, legendary impresario Giorgio Gomelsky seemed compelled to christen these artists FRABJOY AND RUNCIBLE SPOON, although the partners’ first single bore the THE YELLOW BELLOW ROOM BOOM nametag, so for a long time there was a lot of confusion surrounding the British songwriters’ pre-fame-and-fortune output which is finally collated and annotated now. More importantly, the little ensemble’s tuneful offerings, the surviving ones, are given a proper context here, outlining what’s considered the FARS mythical album: the record many people reckoned the pair never preserved for posterity – only the platter got made to impress the listener five decades later. Innocent, if sophisticated, their songs still retain the erstwhile spellbinding scent.
That’s the aroma the aforementioned ’45 from January 1968 emanates, the backing vocals of falsetto-and-flute “Seeing Things Green” infusing the folksy number with vaudeville sensibilities, and the boredom-banishing “Easy Life” assigning adventurous air to acoustic strum, whereas a couple of cuts from an unreleased acetate laid down in July of the same year betray the duo’s soul influence, the brass-brandishing “One And One Make Love” anticipating Philly sound and the tremulously silky “Over And Above My Head” tapping into Motown mellifluousness. Between these two attempts to find a formula of success Lol and Kevin, contracted to Gomelsky’s Marmalade, were featured on the label’s sampler LP, fleshing out the countrified ditty “The Late Mr. Late” by Graham Gouldman – the second GG in their orbit: their friend, manager, accompanist and future bandmate – and performing the dreamy “To Fly Away” which, done afresh, would land on the pair’s unreleased platter, as would the updated “I’m Beside Myself” from the FARS’ debut single, a rhythm-and-bluesy counterpart to the “Animal Song” whimsy, out in September.
Graham would also have Godley and Creme work on his “Virgin Soldiers” and “Hot Sun” that were shelved soon after, the of-its-time former to be forgotten for good and the spaghetti-western-flavored latter reprised by 10CC as a B-side to “Donna” in 1972 – just like HOTLEGS who preceded them did a bit earlier with the breathtaking ballad-cum-rocker “Take Me Back” off the FARS album. The record saw Kevin and Lol’s psychedelic streak bloom on the charmingly patinated pictures of “Chaplin House” and the “Moonlight Sonata”-inspired, piano-sprinkled “Today” – almost all prefaced with the musicians’ countdown or cough here – yet “Cowboys And Indians” is vigorously insistent, Eric Stewart’s riffs and licks propelling the track towards the ’70s, and the gorgeous pastiche of “It’s The Best Seaside In The World” being a 10CC fare-in-waiting.
Of course, in such a light “Hello Blinkers” and “Goodnight Blinkers” that Kevin and Lol were commissioned to compose by Manchester’s “Blinkers” nightclub in 1969 can be seen as a curio today but, respectively bristling with beats and drenched in strings, these tracks show the so-promising expanse of their method. What it would come to did change the history of pop; what it was remains ready to be discovered and relished.