10CC - I'm Not in Love

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Released 31 May 1975 

"I'm Not in Love" is a song written by Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman of the English group 10cc, from the album The Original Soundtrack. 

A collaborative effort built around a title by Eric Stewart, "I'm Not in Love" is notable for its innovative production, especially its choral backing.

The song was originally written around a Bossa nova beat, but group member Lol Creme suggested slowing the tempo, while another group member, Kevin Godley, suggested replacing the beat with a built-up wall of voices.

The ethereal sound was created by laboriously building up multiple overdubs of the voices of Stewart, Graham Gouldman, Godley and Creme singing a single note in unison. This multi-track was then mixed and dubbed down onto 16-track tape. This process was repeated across all 16 tracks to create a lush 256-voice "virtual" choir that could "sing" chromatic chords. A number of these prepared multi-tracks were then cut into several endless loops, each of which contained the basic notes of the main chords used in the song. The chorus loops could then be played by using the mixing desk rather like a keyboard -- each chord could be sounded by bringing up the fader for that loop. The instrumental break featured the repeated spoken phrase, "Be quiet, big boys don't cry...", spoken by Kathy Warren, the receptionist of their own Strawberry Studios where the band recorded the track. These whispered lyrics would later serve as the inspiration for the name of the 1980s band, Boys Don't Cry.

In this pre-sampler period, the group was able to simulate a large polyphonic choir, creating a dramatic tonal effect similar to that produced by the well-known choir sounds of the Mellotron and Birotron, but with a far richer sound, and in full stereo. Godley and Creme's "Gizmo" (also known as "Gizmotron") guitar effects device invention also is used to create a bowed cello effect that surfaces in the middle and closing sections of the song under the endless looped voices.

The same voice loop effect was used in Billy Joel's ballad "Just the Way You Are", released two years later.

Released in May 1975, "I'm Not In Love" became the band's second number-one single and stayed on the top spot in the UK for two weeks from 28 June. Largely expected to scale the Hot 100 summit, the record only peaked at number two in the US for three weeks, shut out of the top spot by a different number-one song each week (Van McCoy's "The Hustle", The Eagles "One Of These Nights", and the Bee Gees' "Jive Talkin'").

In a BBC interview, Eric Stewart told how the song began as a bossa nova version, but was ditched by the band after Kevin Godley and Lol Creme dismissed it as "crap". Although the band moved on to record "One Night in Paris", they noticed that studio staff were still walking around singing "I'm Not in Love". Stewart recalled: "I looked at Graham (Gouldman), and I said that song's a hit, you know. I don't know what's going on here, but I think we got to try it again. And blow me down, Kevin came up with the idea. He said, 'Let's do something very different. Now let's do a whole track and the whole backing track is voices.'"

The song, once complete, became instrumental in 10cc's launch to international fame. According to Stewart, the band was already being courted by Phonogram to leave Jonathan King's UK Records label and sign a new deal. He said: "I rang them. I said come and have a listen to what we've done, come and have a listen to this track. And they came up and they freaked, and they said, 'This is a masterpiece. How much money, what do you want? What sort of a contract do you want? We'll do anything.' On the strength of that one song, we did a five-year deal with them for five albums and they paid us a serious amount of money."


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