I don’t know 10cc at all. I think they have a couple of hits from later in their career that I’m aware of, but I’m not even sure I could name them without googling them. (Just did: I was right, they did “I’m Not in Love.” Hearing that song never made me want to listen to them, as you can imagine.)
But holy shit, this is bonkers. Apparently these guys just at around for years and wrote, and you can sort of tell. There are so many ideas on this record, and 3 and a half minute songs are just packed full of different musical ideas from all over the pop rock spectrum.
But the whole thing is packaged in a pop veneer – bubblegum almost, at times – that it makes this weirdness and ambition far more accessible and, to me personally, much less appealing. Imagine a far goofier, far less ambitious or self-serious ELO, with Brian Eno as one of their singers, and you might get some vague idea of what they sound like. (I’ve also heard Bonzo Do Dog as a reference, but I don’t know them.)
Speaking of Eno, one of the singers sounds a hell of a lot like Eno and I wanted to claim they were ripping him off but Eno hadn’t even put out his debut album yet. Did Eno rip off 10cc? If Eno’s music weren’t so different, I’d be tempted to think that. But what I will say is that when the 10cc singer who sounds like Eno sings, it feels as if there is a spetcrum on which both this version of 10cc and Eno exist, and that’s fucking weird, man.
Speaking of potential influences, parts of “Donna” are way too close to “Oh! Darling.”
Oddly, I also detect the influence of Tubular Bells, which had just come out, on one track (“Speed Kills”). So it’s not as if these guys only care about pop music.
I don’t find the lyrics as clever as the critics did at the time, but I appreciate that they are mocking the music they love. That’s something.
This is a weird one – it’s super catchy but it’s super, super arty. And it’s fun. But I don’t like ’60s pop like these guys do. And Frank Zappa already did this mock celebration of inane popular music with rock music (and some of the same pop 10cc likes), and when he did it he was just so much more subversive.
Still, if I’m going to listen to a ’70s pop album, I’d rather it sound like this.