25 November 2014 (released)
03 January 2014
Despite modern protestations that the album has become unimportant, as people pick and choose tracks to download, it has always been the case that artists are always more fondly remembered for their hits than their albums. The likes of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd are the exception not the rule - and therefore most careers are charted by history, by the charts.
That is certainly true for 1970 hit-makers 10cc, whose career saw them grab 10 top ten hits in the space of a few years, including the number ones I'm Not In Love and Dreadlock Holiday. This 5 CD set has albums from 1975 to 1978 when the band were in their prime. Described as art-rock - 10cc had an almost unique dynamic in that the songwriters were split into two groups - with Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman writing the pop tracks - and the more experimental material coming from Kevin Godley and Lol Creme.
Only two of these albums feature that full line-up though, with 1975's Original Soundtrack containing the big pay-day in I'm Not In Love - the bitter-sweet love song - and the first high-profile single to highlight the band's lighter side in Life Is A Minestrone. The album showcased the band's innovative production methods - as they began (like other big artists of the decade) to make use of increased studio technology. The opening 8-minute opus was said to have influenced Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.
The band's art-rock status was underlined by the covers for their albums - with Original Soundtrack and the follow-up How Dare You! designed by the team that produced classic artwork for Pink Floyd. How Dare You! was the band's fourth album but marked a torrid time for inter-band relationships. As is often the case, the friction produced creative excellence, with possible the band's best song I'm Mandy Fly Me, the kind of unconventional and pretentious single that would never be released today.
The split in 1976 failed to stop the band's momentum, despite the disappointment for fans of losing the more experimental half of the duo, Godley & Creme. That was clearly evident with 1977's Deceptive Bends, with the songs carrying a poppier and more conventional theme, producing hits like The Things We Do Love and Good Morning Judge. 1978's Bloody Tourists continued in the same manner, with no track lasting longer than 5 and a half minutes. It did feature the classic hit Dreadlock Holiday but by now the the band was on the wane.
The two-disc live album Live and Let Live also features in this collection - and is a good way to reflect on a band that captured that 70s music progression in a unique way. It was a decade for very British artists to gain world recognition. Critically 10cc will never be placed alongside Pink Floyd, David Bowie or even Queen, but they played their own very special part in a wonderful era of creativity.