Racked up 12 dazzling top 20 hits; all collected here.
Chris Jones 2009-04-24
These days 10cc are consigned to legacy touring status with one remaining original member on board (Graham Gouldman). But in the mid-70s, they were a hit making machine of awesome power and range. Gathering in Manchester in their co-owned Stawberry studio, they were session men and remnants of 60s beat combos. Kevin Godley, Lol Creme and Graham Gouldman were childhood friends. Gouldman had already penned hits for the Yardbirds and the Hollies while Eric Stewart played with Wayne Fontana's Mindbenders. Following one hit as Hotlegs with Neanderthal Man (included here), they were signed to Jonathan's King's UK label. The impresario also gave them their name (look it up on Wikipedia if you need to know why) and between 1972 and 1978 they racked up 12 dazzling top 20 hits; all collected here.
This umpteenth trotting out of their greatest hits plays fairly fast and loose with what should be a treasured legacy of smart, articulate pop rock. For starters, tracks like Cry, Wedding Bells and Under Your Thumb are solo hits by Godley and Creme alone, while Bridge To Your Heart is Gouldman teamed up with Andrew Gold as Wax. But you'll find no clues to these important facts on the sleeve.
But underlying all the chicanery beats a heart of pure chart gold. Never again will we see witty, deconstructions of genres such as Wall Street Shuffle, Silly Love, or Art For Art's Sake. And the world's most famous anti love song, I'm Not In Love, will forever rival the productions of Phil Spector or Brian Wilson.
10cc were probably the closest the UK ever got to producing a Steely Dan, albeit without the slavish devotion to jazz. From their earliest hit, Donna, they progressed from 50s and 60s pastiches to complex mini-suites filled with heart-melting chord changes like I'm Mandy Fly Me. The post-Godley and Creme years were less palatable. Especially Dreadlock Holiday, which was always questionable in its racial politics. Yet Good Morning Judge still packs the punch of Stewart's incendiary guitar work.
Fans of pop with brains would be advised to buy all of their first four albums, yet for a concise lesson in how to be subversive and still sell millions The Very Best Of is exemplary.