The four members of 10cc were all veterans of the 1960s music scene. Graham Gouldman was a successful songwriter, penning The Hollies’ ‘Bus Stop’ and ‘For You Love’ for The Yardbirds. Eric Stewart played with Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders. Lol Creme and Kevin Godley played in more obscure bands like The Sabres, but joined forces as a songwriting team in 1967. Eventually the four began working together – possibly an inevitably given that Gouldman, Godley, and Creme knew each other growing up in Manchester, while Stewart and Creme married siblings.
With two songwriting teams – the quirkier work of Godley and Creme and the more conventional Stewart and Gouldman – the group were overflowing with ideas. The original lineup didn’t last long – Godley and Creme went off on their own, leaving Stewart and Gouldman to continue as 10cc.
‘Waterfall’ was the first song that 10cc demoed, but it didn’t make it onto their debut album. Instead, it feature as the b-side to their breakthrough single, ‘Rubber Bullets’. 10cc are so eclectic that they sometimes feel insincere as a result. ‘Waterfall’ captures a 1970s L.A. vibe, harmony laden and a little melancholy, not unlike America or Crosby, Stills & Nash. It’s built around a relatively routine chord progression, but there’s enough to make it interesting – the vocal arrangement is impressive, and the effect-laden electric guitar that arrives after the first chorus is unexpected.
Given its quality, it’s perhaps unsurprising that ‘Waterfall’ has enjoyed significant exposure for a b-side. It opened the second side of the 1975 compilation 100cc, and also appeared on the 1977 live album Live and Let Live.
It then reappeared on the 1977 Live and Let Live live album, recorded in London following Godley/Crème’s departure, by which time it had metamorphosed into an eight-minute concert anthem, highlighted by some characteristically excellent Stewart guitar work and a disconcerting mid-section reggae break.https://www.allmusic.com/song/waterfall-mt0051082399