10cc (1973): In the beginning, 10cc was created to experiment on the current state of pop music and on the debut album in 1973 it certainly pushed boundaries. The hooks are everywhere and although the band was often accused of being “too clever” lyrically, the gems are all over. The hilarious “Sand In My Face” remains a hoot. The #1 hit “Rubber Bullets” is here, as well as parodies of 1950’s Doo Wop with “Donna” and “Johnny Don’t Do it.” You want proof this album is still relevant over 30 years later? “Headline Hustler,” a commentary on the scandal-hungry media is more true today than it ever was. The combination of the four songwriters is best shown on “The Dean and I,” with both parody musical and melodic harmonies that would dominate later releases.
Sheet Music (1974): There is no pop album at that time that comes close to Sheet Music in terms of catchiness, musical and arranging brilliance, lyric cleverness, incredible vocals, and fun. Although you can start to see the Kevin Godley and Lol Crème’s distinctive sound emerge here on “Hotel” and their invention the gizmo is featured on “Old Wild Men,” about old rock stars and how would they still be playing around, on “dead strings and old drums.” Again, still relevant today! “Silly Love” is full of crushing riffs and horrible puns. They also didn’t take themselves serious as “The Worst Band in The World.”
The Original Soundtrack (1975): This is the album where the entire world discovered 10cc due to the brilliant single “I’m Not In Love,” which set the standard for lush production. “Une Nuit A Paris” becomes part of an elaborate radio operetta, as Godley and Crème’s vision dominates. Another slice of pop genius “Life Is A Minestrone” is a memorable gem. But not every track shines as brightly (“Flying Junk”). The band begins to suffer from internal tension, and cracks are starting to show.
How Dare You? (1976): At this point, despite commercial success the band starts to fracture, as Creme/Godley/Stewart/Gouldman make one last classic here. Hit singles “I’m Mandy Fly Me” and “Art for Art’s Sake” still prove the band can make brilliant music. And the humor is still there on “I Wanna Rule The World,” “Head Room” and “Iceberg.” After this album, the Stewart/Gouldman duo would need to carry the 10cc name.
Deceptive Bends (1977): Just when you though the band was done, the Stewart/Gouldman duo pull out all the stops and deliver the monster hits “Things We Do For Love” and “People In Love.” And Graham Gouldman throws every hook he knows at this album as almost every song is catchy and accessible. “Honeymoon With Troop B” and “You’ve got A Cold” aren’t as witty as earlier 10cc, but still lots of fun. But “Feel The Benefit” tries a little too hard to replicate past glories. Unfortunately from here, the only direction to go is down.
Bloody Tourists (1978): The band was running on fumes here, while the reggae “Dreadlock Holiday” tries to lift the mood. Listen to: “Shock On The Tube (Don’t Want Love),” “You and I” and “Reds In My Bed”
Look Hear (1980): At this point Graham Gouldman was solo (Eric Stewart was out of commission) and while its not terrible, its not at all memorable either. “How’m I ever Going To Say Goodbye” sums up Graham’s feeling at the time I guess.
If you are still interested in learning more about 10cc, check out the new BBC documentary featured on powerpopaholic.com