The Graham Gouldman Thing

In the mid-1960s Graham Gouldman was a one-man Goffin/King or Boyce & Hart. The British musician and songwriter wrote perfect pop songs that were totally of their time, and which were popularized by other, better-known acts. Gouldman penned the two best songs The Hollies ever recorded (“Bus Stop” and “Look Through Any Window”) two of the better tracks done by The Yardbirds (“For Your Love” and “Heart Full of Soul”) and also provided material for Herman’s Hermits, P.J. Proby, Wayne Fontana . . .

In ’68 Gouldman – who had previously been part of two different bands, both of them flops – decided it was time to put his own versions of some of his songs on record. John Paul Jones (Francoise Hardy’s playmate, and later bassist of Led Zeppelin) was brought on board as arranger and co-producer. Some top-of-the-line sessions musicians took up instruments. And Gouldman sat down and cobbled together a workbook of songs that had been hits for other artists, as well as some new and previously unrecorded material.

What came out is a record that should be generally regarded as a Mod-era classic, right alongside The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, The Kinks’ Face to Face, and early recordings by The Who, as well as the afore-mentioned Hollies and Yardbirds. But the album wasn’t even released in Gouldman’s native land, and only managed to hit the lower reaches of the Billboard Top 100 in the U.S.

The artist/band Gouldman most sounds like on this record is Emitt Rhodes and The Merry-Go-Round. Gouldman the vocalist has a lisp, and he sings in that almost girlish way that Rhodes does. The arrangements and the production of the material on The G.G. Thing are bubblegumy poppy, a la The Merry-Go-Round – that kind of bubblegum where Pure Pop meets Mod Cool.

Gouldman later become a member of The Mindbenders, before the 70s saw him and another Mindbender form 10CC. Later into the 70s he did the soundtrack to the Farrah Fawcett movie, Sunburn.

In 2004 BMG reissued The Graham Gouldman Thing, and anybody who’s into 60’s Mod pop should thank them. It is one of the best records of its kind.

2 thoughts on “The Graham Gouldman Thing”

  1. It’s good to see Gouldman be recognized for something other that 10cc and "I’m Not in Love."  His three hits for Herman’s Hermits — "East West," "No Milk Today" and "Listen People," are probably the most soulful and meaningful recordings the band ever did.  His way with a mini-story is equalled by his melodic inventiveness.

    I interviewed Johnny Ramone for my college newspaper in 1985, when The Ramones were on their "Too Tough to Die" tour.  When I asked him about Gouldman (who had produced a previous Ramones LP), it sent him into a semi-comic tirade against how 10cc was wimpy and "I’m Not in Love" was terrible.  I don’t think he meant to be mean, but it did show me this is the way a lot of people view Gouldman. I wish I had saved the interview tape.

    1. Hey Tony-

      Well, I can’t say I’m surprised to hear that Johnny Ramone wasn’t a 10cc fan. But you’re right, Gouldman is a great story-teller and tune-writer. I love his own version of “No Milk Today” on The Graham Gould Thing. And “Bus Stop” – well, I’ve always thought that was just about the most perfect pop song ever. The opening track on the record, “The Impossible Years,” is another stunning gem of melody and storyline. Having said all of that, it would be fun to listen to Johnny ragging on “I’m Not in Love.”

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