Waterfall by 10cc: Great B-sides

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.


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Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande. Aphoristic Album Reviews features reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.


  1. I never heard this before but it’s better than the A-side and better than those first couple albums. One of my favorite albums of all time is their album The Original Soundtrack, but nothing else they did is anything like it and the quality of it is so different than the rest of their shit. Everything else they did was too goofy sounding or something I always thought. But this song you got here is kind of close to that album , I mean as far as the music goes and stuff.

    • Oh cool, I’ve only heard one of their records, so i should check out that one. They certainly come across as a bit insincere – I have a similar issue with Supertramp as well.

      • Well, everything they do is humorous except for maybe two or three songs, but that one album is the only time where it actually works. Cuz the music is so brilliant.

          • Yeah it’s everybody’s favorite. lts still breathtaking every time you hear it. Well, as long as it’s not the single version. But what I heard is that they used to play the long version on the radio anyway instead of the actual single. That’s what I heard. They knew what they were doing.

  2. Pretty good tune and the first time I had heard it. 10cc were an interesting band and as you noted, their music was impossible to categorize with one genre. At some point in the early ’80s, I borrowed and taped on music cassette a greatest hits compilation of their charting UK singles released between 1972 and 1978. I liked each and every song on that collection!

    • There was a compilation that came out sometime in the 1970s that had all their singles on one side and all their b-sides on the other. Kind of a testimony of how good their b-sides were.

  3. You are right….they were eclectic. Some bands are lucky to have one songwriter…this band had four. Nice song and it has a CSN sound. I like it better than Rubber Bullets.

    • They had four songwriters and four lead singers, pretty unusual. Eagles, who released their first album the same year, were the same.

      • When I heard Rubber Bullets before…I never would have guessed this was the band that released the single “I’m Not In Love”… I like that though.

          • Yes but I do like that…remember I love the White Album but it’s hard to forge an idenity doing that.

  4. I’m intrigued by the suggestion that 10cc were insincere, if only because sincerity wasn’t the sort of thing 10cc (at least in its original incarnation) traded in to begin with. They weren’t about wearing sincerity on their sleeves, they were more like lab technicians exploring and deconstructing pop music. We might as well criticize John Denver for not being very sarcastic. But hey, I love 10cc (I only like them after the split), so maybe I’m being a little defensive.

    • Agreed, it’s an obvious point, but it’s about explaining why I’ve never really embraced them as much as I could have.

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