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Everyday Robots
Everyday Robots
Price: 7.98

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars LOUSY, DROWSY, 30 May 2014
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This review is from: Everyday Robots (Audio CD)
What is happening here? Not a lot, by the sound of it.
A couple of years back, some scribe in the Guardian or Independent called Damon Albarn the new David Bowie on account of his shape-shifting, slippery nature (musically speaking); his creative itchiness from standing in the same place too long. Well, yeah, I can go along with that. But has he now decided to be the new Brian Eno? And, if so, why has he plumped for the ambient, less-is-less option over the fidgety, funny, interesting Eno of 'Before And After Science' and all those supremely daft and profoundly human records preceding it?
Why is every song on this record so muted, insipid and similarly paced? Why is there a dearth of rhythmic variation? Why is there not one single memorable melody? Is it beneath him to write a catchy pop song - or is it beyond him?
I've played this CD a dozen or more times and can't for the life of me remember anything of substance. The record begins, there's some mumbling and humming of machines for about 40 minutes or so and then it stops, making no impression whatsoever.
Speaking of impressions, there was an impressionist comedian in the 1970s called Mike Yarwood and, after his various sketches where he'd impersonate the prime minister of the day and various icons, he would end the show by saying behind his big bow tie, "And this is me" and launch into some rotten ballad that would send the entire nation out to put the kettle on. Maybe Damon Albarn is like that to some extent; take off his coat of many colours, wipe away his disguises, and you have the invisible man.
Albarn isn't some idiot-savant, a blowhard, a chancer. Rather, he's always struck me as a thoughtful, sensitive, imaginative, humorous chap with bags of ideas. It's just that, on this outing, his bag's got a hole in it.
There's a common delusion that Pop stars are over the hill at 40 and, to gain some measure of respect and integrity, they had best cool their boots and shift gear with more sedate, mature, respectable-sounding records. Well, yes, that's an option, I suppose (I doubt whether Mark E. Smith has considered it, bless him), but you needn't bore your audience to pieces in the process.
When I bought 'Everyday Robots', I also bagged 'Blood & Brambles' by Mikey Georgeson & The Civilised Scene and 'Godot Woz Ere' by Yellowjack, albums made by people roughly the same age as Damon Albarn. Their songs are, in their respective ways, tuneful, buoyant, adventurous, witty, intelligent, melodic, groovy, emotional - in fact, everything that 'Everyday Robots' isn't. It might be pertinent to add that Georgeson's and Yellowjack's albums were most likely produced on shoestring budgets simply for the sheer joy of creation. 'Everyday Robots', by contrast, sounds like the semi-detached tinkerings of a rich bored man with nothing much on his mind.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 1, 2014 9:44 AM BST


Godot Woz Ere [Explicit]
Godot Woz Ere [Explicit]
Price: 7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars CRACKERJACK!, 30 May 2014
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If The Who in their 1975 prime made an album employing the lyrics of Ian Dury and John Cooper Clarke, this would be the result. I absolutely love this record! There was a review of Zappa's 'Fillmore East, June 1971' album in OZ Magazine which stated simply, "It rips, it snorts. I like it lots" and that summation could equally apply here. The drums bash, the guitars slash, and the singer is absolutely superb - alert and alive and turn-on-a-sixpence responsive to all the emotional twists and turns of the lyrics. He's laid-back and lovable on the folkish 'Going Slowhere', a song that could have fallen out of Ronnie Lane's back pocket in 1973. 'Next' is a tongue-in-cheek account of an aging roué recalling his litany of lovers. It's hilarious stuff - like Sid James or Robin Askwith fronting Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers.
Although Yellowjack proudly show their musical roots - it's all no-frills rock'n'roll, no click tracks (it's so brilliant to hear the drummer going out of time for once; when's the last time you heard THAT on a record?) - their subject matter has a modern currency. 'The Gnomes Of Bromley' is a satirical attack on the rise of Ukip. And opening track 'We're Back' is an extremely funny song about bands reforming and going for the nostalgia vote (you know who they are!) and the performance is an absolute powerhouse.
It's sad in a way that these songs will never get the airplay or attention they deserve. If Billy Bragg, Paul Weller or Noel Gallagher had made this record, the music press would be dancing naked in the streets, screaming "MASTERPIECE! ROCK HAS BEEN SAVED!" from lamp-posts and rooftops across the land. But this is just another obscure band - like other brilliant bands such as Thumpermonkey Lives!, Mikey Georgeson or The Display Team - who do their stuff and disappear.
Maybe Yellowjack will be discovered in 20 years time and hailed as the greatest cult band of the 2010s. That would be ironic: Would they be stretchered on to the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury in 2034 to wheeze, "We're back!"?
Who cares about that? For me, this is a passionate, powerful, warm-hearted, funny, sharp, intelligent collection. And it rocks like a Doonican chair!


Mind Games
Mind Games
Price: 16.22

2.0 out of 5 stars Mindless, 30 May 2014
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This review is from: Mind Games (Audio CD)
Saucy Jack's compositional powers declined considerably and quickly after his 'White Album' highpoint (for my money, if you peeled off all his songs from that record you'd have The Best John Lennon Album Ever). Blame the lack of a musical collaborator, a strong producer, blame drugs or success or complacency - blame any or all of those aspects but the cancer that ate away his songwriting gifts was his self-obsession, the misguided belief that his Life was his Art (or vice-versa). Granted, 'John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band' was an incendiary, harrowing work, a cry from the heart. It was uneasy listening, sure, but the unfortunate result was a glut of glummy strummies pouring their hearts out and mistaking outpourings of grief for Entertainment. In his quest for recognition as A Serious Artist, Lennon sacrificed fun and creativity.
'Mind Games' was his attempt at regaining critical and commercial favour after the appalling 'Some Time In New York City' but it is unconvincing, weighed down with too many droopy introspective ballads about Yoko and an inability to invent middle-eights - 'I Know (I Know)' is the only song to have one, and it's like sunbeams bursting through a cloudscape when it happens.
In its favour, the album had 'Tight A$' (a welcome Chuck Berry-lite rocker which unfortunately outstays its welcome after a couple of minutes), a beautiful-sounding rolling ballad called 'You Are Here' (making good use of Something Different, a female chorus who mar other songs with their twee harmonies), 'Meat City' (a rough rocking exhilarating mess of scratchy ugly fuzzy guitars and 1950s echo effects on the vocals) and, most crucially, a tough sonic presentation. Lennon's preference was always for mono and meshing instruments together as one.
The 2002 reissue has three extra tracks - Johnny demoing three songs in early gestation - which are of passing interest but the actual album has had a severe audio overhaul. It has been been cleaned up, buffed to a pristine sheen, and consequently a lot of the original album's charms have been blanded out to oblivion. 'Meat City' was a thoroughly riotous racket in its original mix but here it seems studied and careful and considered and so completely WRONG! Even more unforgivably, the actual ending of 'Meat City' - with the drums clattering to a stop and Jock asking "Who is that? Who IS that? And why are they doing those strange... things?" - has been edited out. ARGH!!! Who did that? Who DID that? And why do they do such stupid things?
The 2010 'Signature' reissue reinstates the ending but, unfortunately, the mastering is still as sterile and lifeless as the 2002 edition. Blast!
If you're really eager to hear Lennon half-stepping on less than formidable form but in the way he wanted you to hear it, trawl your charity shops or the Used & New sections here for either the original vinyl album or a 20th Century premastered CD. No, it's not a perfect record but nothing, and no-one, is.


Casino Royale & Original & 45th anniversary album (OST)(2CD)
Casino Royale & Original & 45th anniversary album (OST)(2CD)
Price: 17.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Oh! Oh! Seven Star Review, 29 May 2014
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The CD reissue of the original soundtrack album on the Varese Sarabande label in 1990 was serviceable, an as-faithful-as-possible reproduction of the 1967 vinyl classic, but this 45th Anniversary Edition is the poodle's potatoes.
Despicable and wretched as the film is - a colossal waste of money and time; "30 Seconds Of Fun-Filled Entertainment Squeezed Into 2 Hours!!!!!" - the score is a masterpiece, one of Bacharach's stellar creations. By turns whimsical, comic, romantic and dramatic, it is resolutely date-stamped but none the worse for it. Listening to Disc 1, which is the complete score in chronological order as it occurs in the film, one can almost imagine a better movie (maybe with the Boulting Brothers directing, lending it a harder, more satiric edge...).
The selling point for me was the inclusion of the unnerving music that gave the Berlin School sequence its edge - with the percussion sounding like a ruler being twanged on a table top - and the ludicrously comic Noel Coward-type vocal version of the theme song that played over the end credits. (The line "We're fighting for our lives!" is hilariously silly to me.)
The accompanying CD is a freshly mastered version of the 1967 soundtrack album which might be superfluous were it not for the fact that you might wish to play the album without all the mad bagpipes tracks that predominate the opening portion of Disc 1.


Pipco T Shirt as seen on Frank Zappa
Pipco T Shirt as seen on Frank Zappa
Offered by Old Skool Hooligans
Price: 11.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Halfway There, 29 May 2014
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Unlike Old Skool Hooligans' Frog Hollow Day Camp t-shirt (a devastatingly good facsimile of the tee Zappa was sporting in the gatefold sleeve of the 'Hot Rats' LP), the 'Pipco' top only goes so far. Yes, it has the legend 'PIPCO' and it has the same font as the original t-shirt (so far as I can make out) on the 'Lumpy Gravy' album cover. But it isn't the right colour (pale pea-soup sick green?) and it doesn't have the same details regarding white hoop neck and white sleeves. That is pretty disappointing. However, if you like wearing t-shirts that prompt people to come to you, point at your chesticles and ask, "What does THAT mean?" then this is the garb for you.
Until OSH - or another t-shirt company - get it together, maaaaaaaaaaaaan, and make a perfect replica of that scuzzy classic, then this will have to do.


Apostrophe(')
Apostrophe(')
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 10.03

4.0 out of 5 stars 2012 Remaster/Reissue Of 'Apostrophe (')', 29 May 2014
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This review is from: Apostrophe(') (Audio CD)
I'll refrain from burning your retinas out with a zillion-mile review of the music itself. Of that, I'm sure most visitors to this page will be aware of the contents of the album and have your own opinions of the merits therein. What is important is the question of how the new remaster sounds in comparison to the Ryko release of some 20 years ago. Well, to these ear-like shells, there isn't that much difference. The audio make-over isn't as noticeable as other FZ catalogue entries like 'Hot Rats'. 'Sheik Yerbouti', 'Zoot Allures' &c., so if you're happy with the Ryko edition, hang on to it.
The minus point to the 2012 reissue - and the reason why it's been deducted a star with this review - is the absence of the lyrics. They were there in the Ryko version, and it was very pleasant to have (Frank's wordplay was a joy to read). The excision of the songwords for whatever reason - the price of an extra few centimetres of inlay sheet? C'mon!!! - is a baffler and an annoyance.


Blood & Brambles
Blood & Brambles
Price: 7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Return For The Best, 29 May 2014
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This review is from: Blood & Brambles (MP3 Download)
It's invariably the law of diminishing returns in the game of Pop. A band or solo artist generally hits a peak some three or four years into their career and then begins to stumble, stiffen, grow tired, retreats or retreads old ground, and we - the ever-forgiving fans, the faithful Sancho Panzas to our Don Quixote-like leaders - suffer the burden of years of uninspired contractual obligations, following our heroes through barren wastelands, past dry wells of inspiration, in the hope of a return to former glories or even surpassing them. A slim hope. It rarely happens. Look at your record collection. See your sequence of records by your favourite artist, and then realise that you couldn't name any of the songs on his/her/their most recent releases. They didn't hit you with the same force. Or they missed you completely.
Of course, it's not purely down to creative or receptive forces. It's the times and how they have changed and how they have changed you. What you needed from Pop once you might not need now. Then, it might even be in the format Pop arrives in that has altered your receptiveness and enthusiasm...

I am a latecomer to mp3 albums. Yes, yes, yes, I realise that it's space-saving (well, I don't care about space being saved because that space will be filled by something else) and it's essentially about the music and all that waffle about who's playing bagpipes and where it was recorded and the artwork is piffle, saddo anorakular detail, yeah yeah yeah, I get all that (although, of course, you don't get any of that). And I am fully aware that, since record companies will not invest in their more esoteric, eccentric artists, mp3 albums are the model for the cash-strapped.

Mikey Georgeson was once the leader of 90s glam racketeers David Devant & His Spirit Wife, producing records that were touching and untouchable, amazing and amusing, remaking and remodelling the comfort zones of our Pop past and sending it hurtling into a new vista, over the hills and far away. 'Work, Lovelife, Miscellaneous' is DD&HSW's apex, a creative high so thrilling, breathtaking and exhilarating that almost everything subsequent would seem anti-climactic, a mere hop after that nuclear-powered leggy leap. And much as though 'All We Be Revealed' - his excursion as Mr Solo - had its charms, the homemade quality and shoestring budget didn't befit Georgeson's expansive imaginative scale or skills.

Thankfully - and against all expectations - 'Blood & Brambles' leaves not only his back catalogue but most of what Pop (Class of '04) has to offer choking in the dust. It's almost a reinvention of himself - and why not? He is an artist and what is a record but a self-portrait, and as such can be as truthful or deceitful, as playful or serious as he (and his audience) want it to be. What he has done here is in opposition to the likes of Bryan Ferry or Damon Albarn, who reduce their own essence over each successive release, paring the musical and lyrical elements down in - what? - a search for their crucial core. Well, that may be laudable for them, but they have forgotten that their core is a bore, which is why they wrapped it all up in the miasma of the zeitgeist in the first place.

Georgeson dons a series of party hats - most spectacularly, a sombrero in the opening cut, 'Curtains Of Zagra', coming on like a teenage Leonard Cohen - because he knows that revelations are best disguised. Life is a game and one of the joys (and woes) of it is how it's played (and how does one know when one is winning or losing? What is the prize? IS there a prize?). Pop at its best will have you laughing and gasping. There are many wonders to behold here. Along with Yellowjack's 'Godot Woz Ere' album, this is a lyrical goldmine of delicious delights. Over and over, I've had to pause the songs to check again what he had just sung. And the singing is sublime, astonishing. He swoops, he soars, he shoots, he scores. I love his travels down the corridors of uncertainty - you can't be sure whether the Neil Young-type lead guitar (on 'I See What You Did There') is in deadly earnest or po-mo ho-ho irony.

OK, I've burbled long enough here. But here are the headlines in brief: 'Blood & Brambles' is a Pop masterpiece. If you loved the Bowie of the Deram era, the pre-'Melody Nelson' confections of Gainsbourg, the 'Imperial Bedroom' cavorts of Costello - and if you felt that the recent outsnorings of the bruvvahs Gallagher, or Paul Weller, or Madonna, or Kate Bush (or anyone you once considered vital and urgent and dynamic but are now most resounding NOT) proved conclusively that no-one over 40 is worth a second thought - then this album is more than what you want. I daresay it's what you need!

Is it the album of the year? Too early to call but so far, with only six lengths to go, 'Blood & Brambles' is neck-and-neck with 'Godot Woz Ere'. Trailing behind is the tiring 'Everyday Robots'...


Skylarking [Corrected Polarity Edition]
Skylarking [Corrected Polarity Edition]
Price: 7.83

14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GIRTHBOUND, 21 April 2014
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The original 'Skylarking' as any fule kno was slender-sounding, thinner than a flea's moustache, but this went unnoticed at the time because it was pretty much part-and-parcel of the 80s sound (those tinny synths clinking, them electro-drums clanking). One had to either accept it or try and bypass the surface sheen in order to get to the songs themselves.
Attempts at remixing, remastering, updating back catalogue numbers are undertaken on a notoriously casualty-laden territory. Invariably, they end up over-loud and distorted (case in point, the Rolling Stones' recent 2-disc reissue of 'Exile On Main Street' - more like 'Earache On Main Street') - the most amazing sonic overhaul I have ever heard was the 2003 remaster of Bob Dylan's 'Street Legal'; the difference between the muddy, murky original and the sensuous, revealing remix was akin to hearing the songs for the first time. It's rare indeed that a make-over of an album improves on the original - but this edition of 'Skylarking' almost does it.
Sonically, it's a vast improvement. Whereas the 1986 model was tinny and thin, this version finds itself with a George Woodbridge-like girth in the mid-range tones. The bass is bassier, the drums drummier, the strings woodier - a lot of those icky dated 80s production values have been eradicated, or subsumed. It's a dramatic and welcome improvement - but for one detail... 'Dear God' now finds itself segued with 'Dying'. Cue long sigh and dropping of shoulders. Was such a decision necessary? Admittedly, it's not as bad as the segue on The Who's '... By Numbers' reissue where 'They Are All In Love' and 'Blue, Red And Grey' are joined by ukuleles (in different keys, playing different tunes in different tempos - IDIOCY!), but it's still a bad idea. Slap-wristies to all concerned.
My advice here is this: If you loved 'Skylarking' in its original form, you might fall even deeper in love with it with this refashioning. However, if you hate songs merging into one another, and loved the way 'Dear God' used to end and how 'Dying' used to start, then don't get shot of your old CD.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 27, 2014 5:00 PM BST


Cry: The Very Best Of
Cry: The Very Best Of
Price: 4.94

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN AND LOL, 18 April 2014
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This review is from: Cry: The Very Best Of (Audio CD)
'Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera has told Uncut he considers Lol "one of the two most brilliant musicians" he's ever known, "the other being Kevin Godley".' - Uncut magazine, issue 27, August 1999.

Theirs was an alchemical relationship, two very conflicting temperaments who creatively dovetail-jointed for over 20 years to produce a body of musical substance daunting, almost terrifying, in its brilliance. Yes, of course, there was the occasional clunker along the way, a false step, a dead end, but that's the price to pay when abiding by the code of the (m)independent - neither wear a uniform nor uniform be. Their lows were sub-oceanic but their highs were stratospheric. Deaf to the foghorn of fashion, immune to the record company whip, they defiantly ploughed their own furrow, perpetual (Pop) art students applying and enhancing the sonic palette of possibilities in the recording studio to their strangely co-individual vision. The boffins of bop.

The intensity of their collaboration was fuelled by cannabis. Stories abound of their having a football-sized lump of dope in the studio which would be constantly, and enthusiastically, referred to during recording sessions. The upswing to their adherence to chemical alteration was that the music they produced could not have been created by any other composer/musicians. The downside is that they have very little memory of actually making their own records. I had the pleasure of meeting Creme and Godley - separately, of course - a couple of times and found that, when asked about specific recordings, they would have no recollection of the circumstance or that they couldn't remember the song in question at all. Their minds were blown in the process of making mind-blowing music.

Like a master painter dedicating himself to his canvas and forsaking all else, G & C obsessively applied themselves to the making of one song at a time, and never abandoning it for the next one until it was satisfactorily completed. (This particular working method was anathema to The Boomtown Rats who were driven half-insane when G & C produced their 'V Deep' album.) A consequence of this methodology - plus their resistance to being tied to a set sonic template - is that, despite each song having its own definable character, it was often the case that structurally/musically/lyrically/contextually/conceptually it would be markedly dissimilar from the rest of their catalogue. This approach is hunky dory when hearing their individual albums - 'Consequences', for example, has as its unifying core a pre-rock'n'roll compositional attitude and the grand piano as its centre-staged instrument; 'L', beneath its Carl Stalling merrie melodies, is held together fast by its incisive, acute lyric attack and its bravura deconstruction of pop formulas; and so on - but the task of assembling a career overview (to whit, a compilation album) takes on a schizophrenic Jeykll & Hyde character. How does one find a balance? Will the inclusion of a harsh, clattering, seemingly tuneless experimental piece enhance or negate the presence of a melodic soulful ballad?

It's a problem which Daryl Easlea, compiler and essayist of this latest G & C collection, has obviously struggled hard but, to these lugholes, fallen short of solving satisfactorily. It's not simply that this 18-song CD replicates 10 songs from previous compilation 'Master Series' and almost the same, but not quite, 10 tracks from the 'Images' collection. And it's not that there are a couple of carpet-eating faults - '5 O'Clock In The Morning' very quickly fading out and thereby robbing us of its exhilarating conclusion; 'Sandwiches Of You' (the first appearance of a track from the masterpiece that is 'L' on a greatest hits album) sounding ever so slightly slower and lacking in the higher tonalities. And, no, it's not even the presence of 'Submarine' and 'Power Behind The Throne' (the former being an instrumental version of the latter). It's more the twin matters of overfishing from the same small pool and the track sequencing. Granted, the segue from a cappella 'My Body The Car' to the crashing 'Freeze Frame' (with its gigantic guillotine hi-hat slicing) is a masterstroke, but having three slow-paced songs almost in a row (the instrumentally-spare 'Golden Boy', 'H.E.A.V.E.N./A Little Piece of Heaven' and 'A Lost Weekend' only slightly interrupted by the swifter-but-still-mellow '10,000 Angels') brings proceedings to a stuttering halt.

Some artists' back catalogues can be happily pruned and assembled into greatest hits packages because they have chosen not to stray too far from their chosen path. Steely Dan, Nick Cave, Bob Marley, The Ramones, Roy Harper, ABBA, Roxy Music - the music they were making at one end of their career is not so bent out of shape and unrecognisable at the other. It's a different story for the likes of Elvis Costello - Exhibit A, your honour, his 'Extreme Honey' collection which, rather than displaying his gifts in a myriad of musical genres, came across as maddening, insufferable dilettantism. Godley & Creme, like Bob Dylan (albeit for different reasons), do not lend themselves readily to the compiler's scalpel.

The dream Kev & Lol collection for this olden boy would be a box containing all of their post-10cc albums - 'Consequences', 'L', 'Music From Consequences' (because it has a couple of different edits/mixes), 'Freeze Frame', 'Ismism', 'Birds Of Prey', 'History Mix Vol. 1', 'Goodbye Blue Sky' - plus an additional disc scooping up singles and b-sides (so we get the guitar-solo-free edit of 'Sandwiches Of You' - YES!!!!), another disc of stuff from the vaults (Phil Manzanera said that he had recorded a whole album's worth of experimental music with them - three tracks of which appeared on 'Freeze Frame'. IT MUST BE UNLEASHED!!!!!!), a DVD of their videos coupled with TV appearances (there was a 30-minute show called 'Puttin' On The Ritz' featuring them recording 'Birds Of Prey', plus in-studio promos of them miming to 'Mugshots' and 'Freeze Frame' from 'Whistle Test', PLUS 'Mondo Video' and - ohhhh - just throw everything in there), their book 'The Fun Starts Here', their (unfinished?) unpublished novel 'Bulls***', plus a song-by-song discourse by G & C (strap them to chairs and force them to listen to everything so we get a definitive remembrance). Is this asking too much? Or am I just an old wild man waiting for miracles?
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 23, 2014 3:46 PM BST


Tenology
Tenology

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WHATCHA GONNA DO ABOUT IT, WHATCHA GONNA DO?, 22 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Tenology (Audio CD)
First, the good news: The selections from the 'How Dare You!', 'Deceptive Bends' and 'Bloody Tourists' albums are a great sonic improvement on the disastrous, dull, lifeless 1997 remasters. And the accompanying DVD features a great live concert from 1974 for the BBC, watched by a hilariously listless audience (it's akin to the zombie nightclubbers impassively gazing at The Yardbirds going nuts in the 1966 film 'Blow-Up'). Clips from Top Of The Pops display invisible-gum-chewing Kevin Godley's bizarre taste in knitwear, and, on 'I'm Not In Love', Eric Stewart corpsing during the second verse. Of the specially-commissioned promos, 'Good Morning Judge' is adorable, with Graham Gouldman and Eric sporting a plethora of beards, wigs and cozzies. The moment when Eric (as the accused in the dock) and Graham (as the judge) kick over the furniture to mime the guitar solos is gloriously silly. The hardback book's Paul Lester essay with its interviews with the original four piece has much to commend it. And the two rarities - a rough-mix lo-fi version of 'People In Love' recorded with Lol Creme and Kev; and the soundtrack of a TV news item capturing 10cc as they record 'The Dean And I' - are fascinating, the former for revealing G & C's decision to leave the band was the right one, and the latter in showing that, beneath all the layers of vocal overdubbage, 'The Dean and I' is actually a ska tune! Who would have guessed?
However…
For a band whose motto was 'Perfection Is Only Just Sufficient', the flaws in this collection are plentiful. (Let's get the DVD one out of the way quickly: Where is the promo for 'Don't Hang Up'?) They range from musicians having their names misspelt (Stuart Tosh and Duncan Mackay can't be too happy about being misremembered continually on all four CD sleeves), a producer going uncredited (Gary Katz, for the two songs from 1992), lyrics being transcribed incorrectly ('Sgt Baker started talking with a ballpoint in his hand'?), songs being assigned the wrong date ('Somewhere In Hollywood' is a 1974 release, not 1973, whilst 'Headline Hustler' is from the band's 1973 debut album, not 1974)…
CD2 is a hideous mistake, being all post-Godley & Creme material. Now, there's nothing wrong with the compilers making the case that there was life in the band after the art school loons left, but the song selection here is appalling. It's one drab and dismal ballad after another. Where is 'Lifeline' or 'You've Got A Cold' or 'Honeymoon With B Troop'? The decision to fill a CD with anodyne love songs - 'The Power Of Love', 'Feel The Love', 'Woman In Love' (yeah, we get the idea, chaps) - at the expense of truly great stuff ('Brand New Day', 'How Dare You!', 'Ships Don't Disappear in The Night [Do They?]', 'The Film Of My Love', 'Head Room', 'Speed Kills') by the original quartet is just plain nuts. And, since it's commonly agreed that it's the band's creative highpoint, why is the version of 'I'm Not In Love' that's included here the horribly-edited single of 3m45s instead of the magnificent 6m02s original cut? Infuriating and exasperating.
CD4 ('B-Sides And Rarities') lacks '18 Carat Man Of Means', the flip to 'The Worst Band In The World'. No great shakes in itself, I know. It's not the greatest song you've never heard, but it has some kind of historical value as the first song composed by all four members of the band, and, as such, warrants inclusion. And surely a rummage in the vaults might have turned up some outtakes - the original boss nova take of 'I'm Not In Love', maybe, or alternative mixes or performances with different vocalists - or anything!??!
It would have been too easy and predictable to deliver what old bores like me would have preferred - the first four 10cc albums, complete in their original running order, with a disc of ALL the b-sides and a fistful of previously unreleased stuff, blah blah blah, and a double disc of the complete 11/11/75 Santa Monica Civic Centre gig whilst you're about it (which you can find on the wolfgangsvault website), a DVD that featured the 'Don't Hang Up' clip and some Knebworth '76 stuff - but this representation falls short. What might have been interesting is dedicating each disc to a specific group member...
Whilst I'm griping, there are a couple of points I'd like to make concerning Paul Lester's otherwise unimpeachable essay. The first is this contention that Queen could never have conceived 'Bohemian Rhapsody' without 10cc's 'Une Nuit A Paris' paving the way. This is absolute balls. The Who, for one, were producing multi-part songs ('A Quick One While He's Away', 'Rael 1 & 2') seven years before. The only link I can see between '…Paris' and '…Rhapsody' is that 10cc's song ends in a murder and Queen's song begins with the singer confessing to one. The other point is about whether Frank Zappa was an inspiration to the band: A more important question might have been whether Zappa was influenced by 10cc. Joe's Garage is mentioned in 'Johnny, Don't Do It' a full six years before Frank's triple album. And 'You've Got A Cold' has a chorus hook extremely similar to Zappa's 'Dancin' Fool' single (released two years after 'Deceptive Bends').
The reason for this ghastly whinge is because this could have been a great opportunity to celebrate one of the great original pop bands - and, the way the record industry is going, most probably the last chance to do so - but, for the factors mentioned above, it falls short.
All in all, then: CD1 is all 4 or 5 star stuff (barring the awful 'People In Love' and catastrophic edit of 'I'm Not In Love'). CD2, apart from 'Dreadlock Holiday', is dreck - 1 star. CD3, with Kev & Lol in brilliant form, has 15 tracks of 5 star genius, let down by two so-so post-G & C cuts and one simpering wimpy limp. CD4 has one track of majesty ('Good News') surrounded by fluff and marginalia - 3 stars in all. And the DVD has more than its fair share of magic (despite the absence of 'Don't Hang Up', which I might have mentioned before) - 4 stars.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 23, 2013 7:37 AM GMT


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