by Jim Greenhalf

THERE are two explanations for my ignorance of Graham Gouldman's song-writing prowess. The first is that back in the late 1960s to the mid-1970s I was an irregular reader of modern music papers such as New Musical Express and Melody Maker.

The second explanation, scarcely less plausible than the first, is that the band with which Graham Gouldman is best associated, 10cc, didn't promote themselves as Rock gods. I knew the names of The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Cream and even the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and Graham Gouldman were virtual strangers.

"We had three number 1 hits with three different singers. If you look at who played and sung what on our songs it was like a different band for each record," he said.

On a local note, Batley Variety Club in 1972 played a part in shaping the recording technique of 10cc. To cut a long story short, the American singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka was booked in to the club and was introduced to Graham Gouldman who in his own right or write, had already penned hits for The Yardbirds, The Hollies, Hermans Hermits and Wayne Fontana.

"I went over to Leeds where he was staying with a guitar. He was going to do two or three songs but we (10cc) did an album with him. It took two weeks which was very quick in those days.

"What we learned from him was studio craft. He would come in very prepared - no working stuff out. He would sing lead vocal or harmony vocal at the same time as he was playing. It brought a different flavour to the record. So that was an important gig but 10cc would have happened anyway."

A couple of months ago he was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in the United States and asked to choose one of his songs to represent his work.

He didn't choose any of 10cc's big hits of the 1970s - Rubber Bullets, Wall Street Shuffle, Life is a Minestrone, Donna, The Things we Do For Love, I'm Not in Love. Instead he selected Bus Stop, the song about romance on a rainy day in Manchester that he wrote for The Hollies in 1966.

"It was a big hit in America and it came from an era that we will never see again," he said, but qualified that somewhat by admitting that his hometown of Manchester had gone on chucking out great bands long after Liverpool's John, Paul, George and Ringo had become history.

Think of them - Joy Division, Happy Mondays, The Verve, Oasis, Elbow, Stone Roses, The Smiths, Herman's Hermits, Mark E Smith's The Fall, 10cc. Can he explain the phenomenon?

"There was always loads of places to play. When I was a kid we went to loads of clubs. They weren't licensed at all, you went for the music, you got coffee and coke. You went to The Three Coins and Oasis to see the bands," he said.

Though he tours the world with another formation of 10cc the streets of Manchester still mean a lot to him. On his recent solo album, Love and Work, there's a song called Memory Lane.

"We had a day off so I took my wife, who comes from London, to Manchester to look at my old school. There's a line in the song: "The pavement felt so good beneath my feet". There's something in the Northern soul, a type of creativity," he added.

10cc are at St George's Hall on October 22, starting at 7.30pm. For tickets ring 01274-432000.