To try and give a brief summary
Stewart's musical career
would be nigh on impossible. It has been long and illustrious,
and his contribution to the industry extends well beyond 10cc, with which he is probably most famously
associated. He has also worked alongside Paul McCartney, Neil Sedaka
Parsons to name but a few.
After starting out with The Emperors of Rhythm and Johnny Peters and the Jets, Eric tasted success with both guises of The Mindbenders, with and without front-man Wayne Fontana. During the 60's he co-established Inter City Studios in Stockport, England, which went on to become part of the Strawberry Studios set-up. It's interesting to note that Eric has revived the name with the Strawberry Soundtracks label.
As Hotlegs, with Lol Creme and Kevin Godley, Eric reached Number 2 in the charts with Neanderthal Man in 1970. Two years later, with the addition of Graham Gouldman to the line-up, 10cc arrived on the scene. And what a catalogue they gave the world. As well as producing hit songs with 10cc, such as I'm Not In Love, Life Is A Minestrone, Wall Street Shuffle and Dreadlock Holiday, he even took time out to engineer and produce two albums for Sad Café.
Eric's first solo LP Frooty Rooties was released in the early '80s. Copies still appear every so often, usually in internet auctions, along with his even rarer 1980 soundtrack album Girls. The winter of 1983 saw the start of a long lay-off from 10cc, but Eric remained busy, helping out Paul McCartney with two of his albums. Eric also wrote songs for, and produced, the album Eyes Of A Woman for Agnetha Fältskog. In the 90's, Eric and Graham Gouldman put out 3 more albums as 10cc, those being Meanwhile, MirrorMirror and Alive, a recording of a concert in Japan but sadly, 10cc came to an end in 1995.
Alan Parsons took the opportunity of utilising Eric's dulcet tones, putting them to good use on three of his albums. Freudiana, Try Anything Once and On Air each featured Eric singing the lead vocals on two songs.
The past few years have seen activity once again in the Stewart recording studio and now, 21 years after Frooty Rooties, to quote Lol Creme... " Eric's album has been a long time coming but it's worth the wait!"
DO NOT BEND
The new album from
Eric wrote and produced all the songs, plays all the instruments, and, as you might expect, provides all the lead vocals. However, the DO NOT BEND backing vocals are shared with Sam' Brown, Helen 'Aitch' McRobbie and Louise Marshall. Their talents feature on over half of the songs (marked *) and what talents they have too. Well impressive, ladies.
In recent years, Eric has been quoted as saying "Well, touring's boring, gimme a break... as the song goes", but he never mentioned which song he was quoting from. Well, we've read and re-read any and all Eric-penned lyrics in our possession and it is only now with the advent of DO NOT BEND that it can be revealed just which song he was talking about.
And now, the moment you've been waiting for... Dave and Roy do DO NOT BEND.
The first thing you notice is that the album cover is very, very blue and very, very red. It certainly grabs your attention, basically when it's on the shelf's at HMV, it will grab your Ears by the Balls. The red/blue theme is continued onto the discs themselves. I defy anyone to just put them away without lining the titles up first. The inside booklet in my opinion lacks a wee bit of colour but the quotes from Macca and Sir George certainly make up for that, it makes you realise just how much Eric has been missed within the Music Industry by his equals. There is a nice three page write-up by an American journalist, from America, on how he discovered who Eric really was. The credits for the album make for interESting reading. Some nice puns, such as Elvis S Leftdebildin. And of course Dave here gets a mention too. Crikey, Dave, you're famous... can I have your autograph please? Certainly, that'll be a tenner. Nice to see the Strawberry name and logo back in use. The CD's were produced in HDCD mode, for clearer clarity apparently and all the songs do have a wonderfully clear sound to them.
You Can't Take It With You* (4.04)
The first track always leads the way for other tracks and this track certainly opens the flood gates. Yes, I find you can usually judge what an album will be like by how the first track grabs your attention. The female voices grip your ears in a vice-like hold... quite extraordinary.... It's a good strong opener, with a nice up-tempo beat, and great vocals. A very Eric Stewart track indeed. Bring on the rest...
A Friend In Need (5.08)
The very first time I heard this song, I knew that it was going to be my favourite track on DNB. It seems like a very personal song giving us albeit a short insight in to the magical personal world of Eric Stewart as the lyric goes "A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed". It's just PURE Eric. A truly lovely sound bellowing from the Hi - Fi speakers. You'll know what we mean when you hear it, folks.
The Gods Are Smiling* (4.30)
Here comes the reggae man - sheer brilliance, especially with 'Les Girls' backing Eric's voice in the chorus. It works very well. A very infectious track, I don't like reggae, I love it.
Fred And Dis-Audrey* (4.13)
After the tinkling of the ivories for the intro' there are quite poignant lyrics for this : I saw a man down at Camber Sands, he had the sunset sitting in his hands. Eric is at his truly best all the way through this truly invigorating track, on the guitar solo's backed up with the ivories and 'Les Girls'. This would make a great 'live' song, with Eric centre-stage on lead guitar and vocals, and Vic Emerson bouncing up and down in his own inimitable style on keyboards. After hearing this one you will surely press the repeat button.
I Will Love You Tomorrow* (5.04)
A crossbreed here - 10cc's Code Of Silence meets reggae. This one will certainly appeal to the female ears out there so watch out guys. It's a wonderful song with a very infectious chorus. You'll find yourself humming and singing this one while on the bus or train going into work, that's for sure. Pure rhythm all the way through, with marvellous sentiments too. This song will set the scene for all female fans out there.
Sleeping With The Ghosts (5.12)
The first "Cadburys Roses Song"... this does grow on you after a while. At this juncture, we would just like to explain that "Cadbury's Roses" are in fact a very popular confectionery item here in the UK, and many years ago (Dave's showing his age now) they used to advertise them with the slogan "Roses grow on you." A very deep and meaningful track, listen carefully to those lyrics.
Rappin' With Yves* (3.21)
Here's the girls again. They certainly do add something special. It does seem a little odd hearing ladies providing backing vocals to an Eric song. This is another "Will Grow On You" track, but you will get there very quickly.
Norman Conquest II (4.18)
Destination Jamaican beaches. It puts you straight into the Holiday mood...one of the most catchy sing-along party mood tracks Eric has ever done. I wonder if we could invent a word for a song like this. Simple very catchy lyrics, backed superbly with Steel Drums all the way through. You'll be singing the chorus for days. A very humorous song expertly sung and played by the Old Master. It's an Ericalypso! I can see it now, the dance floor full, new dance moves being made up, I'd love to see a video, man!!! Definitely a great sing-along number. Brilliant, what more can one say?
No No Nettie (3.13)
(It's this one) Features the wonderful vision-inspiring lyrics "No no Nettie, I've got to confess you can't go flying in a see-through dress". Get those Winkle Pickers out of the closet, grab a girl, get her on the dance floor and start Jiving. Unbelievable lyrics. Very much your rock 'n' roll number. You can see the billboards now... "Rocking and a Rolling with 'Eric Stewart and his Rocking Band' keep up the Heat, smell the Beat. Eric and the boys will keep you Sweet". If Eric gave a concert, this would be the encore without a shadow of a doubt. The 1950's brought back to life in the spring of 2003 by "De Man" himself. A superb number from the Master!!!
Mr. Decadent* (3.50)
The Dr John style piano playing fits in very well on this track. I agree totally Roy, very Dr John. I wish 10cc had have used female vocalists during their time, who knows how high they would have climbed. Perhaps they should have made Lol wear even tighter underwear (Only joking Lawrence!!!!)
Do The Books* (5.37)
I don't like Reggae... you know the rest. This is an interesting song, reggae versus rock... another very personal song with the trials and tribulations of one Louise and Morse in a frightening sequence of events but with a happy ending. Nice song, It's amazing what you can do if you're given some steel drums for a birthday present.
Set In Blancmange (5.55) Þ
How many songs do you know that are centred around the heady, jet-set world of box-cart racing? After listening to "Set In Blancmange", the answer will be One. The album's "anthem" song, there's a lot of fun here. Eric puts you in the picture right from the start... "and they're off, steaming down the mountainside at God knows how many miles an hour in little souped up Maclaren influenced soapbox racers" Did you know that the Rasta Blasta mentioned in the song is Eric's team? What is it they say, boys will be boys? Here, the boys are certainly in control.. Steady on, there are girl drivers too. I'd love to meet the scrute with his measuring stick, he conjures up all kinds of images. As the Beach Boys once said "Fun, Fun Fun" all the way through this (race) track.
A Human, Being* (4.18)
Instantly ear catching, here comes the girls again... Hmmm this one took it's time with me. The more I heard it though, the more I liked it.
You Are Not Me (4.37)
Marvellous lyrics here from Eric, who else would rhyme "etcetera" and "betterer" (you'll all be saying it tomorrow). Turn the lights down low and the headphone volume high. At the end of an album that's travelled through a whole gamut of emotions, what better way to end than on this conciliatory note. This will send you off into the realms of ecstasy. It's tugging at the "shake hands, let's be friends" heart-strings. The production is astounding, pure heaven.
The first edition of DO NOT BEND comes complete with a bonus CD, dedicated to 10cc's fans throughout the world. This contains five demo' tracks, all of which have made available to the general public for the first time ever.
I'm Not In Love (Latino)
Every fan of 10cc knows I'm Not In Love but how many have ever heard it like this? The original version will always remain a true classic but I have to say that this version totally knocks my socks off as I'm sure it will yours. This was originally recorded as a fun track by Eric, and it was hoped that something along these lines would appear on the MirrorMirror album. In the end, however, an acoustic version of INIL featuring both Eric and Graham got the vote. It does sound strange at first, hearing it in this form but after 2 or 3 plays you end up completely in its magic. I wonder if it would have been as popular first time round like this - bongo's and flamenco dancing? INIL without Big Boys Don't Cry ??? It's like Star Trek without the Enterprise! But it don't half sound good though
The Stars Didn't Show
Eric, no Kevin, one guitar, a drum machine and a certain Mr Gouldman on b/vox. A very raw and very basic rendition... kinda like a run through, yes, truly a demo. I actually prefer Kevin's haunting lead vocals, the way we know it on Meanwhile. Yes, it's definitely the better one. But to hear a rough demo version is magic in itself
Tek Dis A Woman
Now this is excellent! A classic amongst the gems... reviewing it would not do this track justice. I like this a very lot. Strange how only the chorus survived for Take This Woman. How the final version ended up on MM in place of this is way beyond me
Code of Silence
A Very haunting and melodic piece of true craftsmanship with mind-blowing guitar solo by Eric, it's wonderful to have this alternative take on this magical song
What constitutes a demo? How much more work would be needed to finish this song? It's a marvellous song from Eric's "stables". Hmmm, thinks! Will it ever get finished?
It would be oh so easy to sit here and tell everyone that we've reviewed 'just another 10cc album', but that would be a BIG mistake. Yes, okay, there ARE four 10cc demo' tracks on the second disc in the set, but hey, it is a BONUS CD. Eric has put a whole lot of work into this album, spread over several years, and has given the world fifteen of his latest works, none of which were written with or for any other former member of the 'old group'.
Harvey the Dealer got it wrong in August 2001, when he told Roy that Eric's album would never be released. Granted, it has been a long time in the making. Eric has been working on DNB for at least the past five years or so. Recent changes to the album title (My Dear Friends? My Good Friends? Do Not Bend?) and indeed, deciding just which songs would be appearing on the album have all contributed to the wait that we have endured. But the burning question to be answered is... has it been worth the wait? Here at the 10cc Fan Club, we've been looking forward to reviewing this album and now that we have, it is strongly recommended that our readers click on the Strawberry Soundtracks link below and get your order in for your own copy of this album. It's hoped you enjoy the end result as much as we do.
is available now, from the
web-shop, priced at GBP12.50 plus s&h.
Soundtracks * The 10cc Fan Club * The Eric Stewart
All lyrics appear courtesy of EMSINC Music, and must not be copied, reproduced or used without their express permission.
Things you didn't know #438 BLANCMANGE
Definition: [bluh-MAHNZH] This is a simple cooked pudding made of milk, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla. Gelatin may be substituted for the cornstarch. The hot mixture is poured into a mould then chilled. When set, remove from mould and serve with a sweet sauce or fresh fruit. The original blancmange used pulverised almonds in lieu of cornstarch. Ý