They’re so much more than “I’m Not In Love.”
1. “Rubber Bullets”
Start here, I did.
The debut album was big in the U.K., it was all over the U.S. rock press, but you could neither buy nor hear it until…the album finally appeared. “Rubber Bullets” was the hit, and what a breath of fresh air it was back in ’73, when art rock and singer-songwriters were in vogue and Brian Wilson was in his sandbox and we were still yearning for that sound.
The track didn’t hit in the U.S., but it was a smash in the world of anybody who heard it.
And as good as the vocals are, and the stinging guitar, it’s the breakdown at 2:45 that pushes it over the top.
2. “Fresh Air For My Mama”
The debut’s closer.
Nobody in rock does majestic anymore, that’s left for the poppiest of the poppermost. But for those of us who grew up in the sixties on orchestras and crescendos, this is the kind of the song that has us conducting with our hands, playing Leonard Bernstein.
3. “Johnny Don’t Do It”
You don’t really have to listen to this, not unless you’re completely enraptured by the foregoing, but I list it to point out that the entire initial album was borderline parody, writing new songs in the mold of the old, on a high level, both musically and lyrically. And when the newscaster goes on about the death of Johnny Kowalski…you both smile and crack up.
4. “Somewhere In Hollywood”
The second album was a commercial disappointment. Still clever, there was less parody and there was no hit, despite the album containing one (see below). But “Somewhere In Hollywood” is my favorite, because of the aforementioned majesty, because of the lyrics…a dog up in Beverly Hills?
5. “The Worst Band In The World”
Legendary amongst those in the know. “Spinal Tap” before “Spinal Tap.”
We’re the worst band in the world
But we don’t give a…
Then there’s the closer…
Here we are together on your hi-fi
A little piece of plastic with a hole, oh
Fade me, fade me, fade me, fade me…
Which they do. As in the record fades out!
That’s what they were, little pieces of plastic with a hole, that meant so much to us.
10cc was winking and toying with us, back when it was cool for musicians to be smart.
6. “The Wall Street Shuffle”
The hit that wasn’t.
If Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927″ could be resurrected by the rupturing of the levee, how come “Wall Street Shuffle” can’t be the anthem of the financial crash?
I don’t know, because it’s TOO GOOD?
7. “Art For Art’s Sake”
From the fourth album, “How Dare You,” which was a disappointment after
“The Original Soundtrack,” with the monstrous hit.
This is the album’s “Wall Street Shuffle.”
Art for art’s sake
MONEY FOR GOD’S SAKE!
8. “I’m Mandy Fly Me”
Ethereal majesty. This is a sleeper, it took me years to get hooked.
It has Eric Stewart’s mellifluous vocal and a stinging guitar and…
9. “For You And I”
From my favorite 10cc album, “Bloody Tourists.” When there were only two, Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman. This is a bit sappy, but the track that truly resonates, “Old Mister Time,” is not on Spotify—you can hear it here, on YouTube, it’s got that majesty, only written for you magic:
10. “Dreadlock Holiday”
A reggae takeoff before the music hit in the U.S.
It was number one in the U.K., where the Jamaican sound penetrated early in the decade, but stiff in the U.S.
But over time, it’s grown over here, because it’s just that damn good.
I can’t help but smile whenever I hear it.
11. “Feel The Benefit (Parts 1, 2 &3)”
From “Deceptive Bends.” The first duo album, from ’77.
It’s an eleven and a half minute epic and worth every second.
12. “The Things We Do For Love”
The piece de resistance. The classic pop single that ran up the chart, deservedly so.
But what the unwashed didn’t know was it was a joke! A sappy pop song written to be so. This is what Todd Rundgren did so well, before he thought it was too easy and gave up.
But it’s not easy, but damn hard. To encapsulate the essence and enrapture the public.
This is anything but a trifle, anything but forgettable.
And the lyrics still go through my head on a regular basis today.
YOU THINK YOU’RE GONNA BREAK UP
THEN SHE SAYS SHE WANTS TO MAKE UP
That’s love. You never really know what’s going on in another person’s head. Even with a contract, that does not mean you’ll stay together.
There’s so much wisdom in this track.
And so much JOY!