Tuesday, 6 November 2018

10cc - 10cc (1973)


  

Released July 1973

Recorded in Strawberry Studios, Stockport

This was the debut album from the innovative, ground-breaking and quirky 10cc, one of the seventies' most interesting bands.

The follow-up, "Sheet Music" was a better album overall, but this was a curious, impossible to categorise introduction to a group who would perplex and beguile and occasionally annoy and infuriate.

TRACK LISTING

1. Johnny Don't Do It
2. Sand In My Face
3. Donna
4. The Dean And I
5. Headline Hustler
6. Speed Kills
7. Rubber Bullets
8. The Hospital Song
9. Ships Don't Disappear In The Night (Do They?)
10. Fresh Air For My Mama

The album begins with a bit too much fifties pastiche for my liking, in the "motorcycle crash" spoof of "Johnny Don't Do It!" and the odd, but attractively riffy (borrowed in places, slightly, from Atomic Rooster's "Devil's Answer", I'm sure) "Sand In My Face". Then there is the rock'n'roll ballad take-off of "Donna" (which was the group's first big hit) and the Beach Boys influenced "The Dean And I", (also a hit single), featuring singer Lol Creme's toe-curling cod-US accent. Despite that, it was a good song though. Very "hooky".

Things change, though, with the rocky, rhythmic "Headline Hustler" as the fifties are thankfully left behind. The lyrics become far more cynically witty now. "Speed Kills" recycles the old drum intro from Hotlegs' "Neanderthal Man" and is a mysterious, powerfully punchy number. The album has got interesting now. It has a great bass line, synthesised brass sounds and searing electric guitar near the end too.

The huge number one hit, "Rubber Bullets" returns briefly to the late fifties, although it is simply a very catchy pop song and pretty much irresistible, despite some vaguely irritating bits. One listen to that "rubbery" intro, though, and it's 1973 again. As a fourteen year-old, I loved this single. The version on here is the five minute plus album version, with some excellent, fuzzy guitar in the final minute or so. "We all got balls and brains, but some's got ball and chains..." was one of their many tongue-in-cheek, humorous lines.

"The Hospital Song", with its deliciously thumping bass line is another example of 10cc black humour, about being in hospital for an operation. As "Headline Hustler" targeted the media, this song takes on the subject of health and hospitals. Underneath the wry lyrics, it has a great sound to it too. It is all very clever. "Too clever for their own good" many said at the time, and since, maybe, but that shouldn't detract from the material's appeal. "Ships Don't Disappear In The Night (Do They)" has a lot of echoes of Paul McCartney's Wings about it, sounding a lot like "Helen Wheels" or "Junior's Farm" from the same period. This may have come first, though, it has to be said. The final track, "Fresh Air For My Mama" also has airs of McCartney about it, and The Beach Boys' early seventies transcendental-influenced stuff.

"Hot Sun Rock" is an excellent, heavy-ish instrumental bonus track and "4% Of Something" is also really rocky in a seventies, proggy sort of way. Personally I would rather both these tracks had been on the album at the beginning.

B-

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