Do you remember that haunting ‘big boys don’t cry’ refrain on 10cc’s massive 1975 hit “I’m Not In Love”? Well whatever happened to that session singer? Maybe the question is what session singer as that vocal was recorded by the then Strawberry Studios Receptionist Kathy Redfern (although some internet sites have her surname as Warren).
The song went to number one in the UK, Canada and Ireland and was taken from their 1975 top 5 album ‘The Original Soundtrack’. It was the second of the band’s three UK number ones. The others were “Rubber Bullets” in 1973 and “Dreadlock Holiday” in 1978.
OK Kathy if by some wild stretch of the imagination you, or someone who knows you, is reading this post I would love to interview you for this blog.
Never mind the backing vocal – the recording of the rest of the track is the genius groundbreaking bit: “(Eric) Stewart spent three weeks recording Gouldman, Godley and Creme singing “ahhh” 16 times for each note of the chromatic scale, building up a “choir” of 48 voices for each note of the scale. The main problem facing the band was how to keep the vocal notes going for an infinite length of time, but Creme suggested that they could get around this issue by using tape loops. Stewart created loops of about 12 feet in length by feeding the loop at one end though the tape heads of the stereo recorder in the studio, and at the other end through a capstan roller fixed to the top of a microphone stand, and tensioned the tape. By creating long loops the ‘blip’ caused by the splice in each tape loop could be drowned out by the rest of the backing track, providing that the blips in each loop did not coincide with each other. Having created twelve tape loops for each of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale, Stewart played each loop through a separate channel of the mixing desk. This effectively turned the mixing desk into a musical instrument complete with all the notes of the chromatic scale, which the four members together then “played”, fading up three or four channels at a time to create “chords” for the song’s melody. Stewart had put gaffer’s tape across the bottom of each channel, which meant it was impossible to completely fade down the tracks for each note; this resulted in the constant background hiss of vocals heard throughout the song.”