Mr. Erskine was not a big fan of this album that he reviewed for NME. Overly critical if you ask me. Personally I would have no trouble in recommending this album as it is full of great songs, some of them even classics, and this class of songwriting is almost impossible to find on albums these days.
Personally I have a special soft spot for the songs “I Wanna Rule The World”, “I’m Mandy Fly Me” and “Art For Art’s Sake”.
If you have never listened to 10cc before, you may like to take a listen. One of the great pop/rock-bands!
Enn ui old iron
10cc: How Dare You! (Mercury)
By Pete Erskine
“With extensive critical acclaim to their credit and a succession of hits to their name, 10cc well deserve the accolade `Superstars`.” – record company press release.
“Superstar” is a euphemism for that final ascent to rock `n`roll heaven – the result of a specialised form of alchemy in which fans transform themselves into “freaks” for their band (“10cc freak, Burnley”) while the band is rendered as some kind of giant-sized sacred cow.
We, of course, become “so-called critics”.
I therefore suspect that if 10cc have become “superstars” then this new album of theirs will be greeted with universal critical fanfares and turn out to be their best-seller yet.
But will it be on the strength of its real, intrinsic contents, or as a result of the cumulative effect of their past track record?
This is the sort of question “superstars” have to ask themselves every day of the week.
One of the advantages/disadvantages about becoming a “superstar” is that people stop looking too closely at your work because a) they are frightened to disagree with the majority, and b) they start feeling paranoid that their initial investment/commitment might turn out to have been misguided.
The Business, for example, has, and will always be, loth to make sudden about-turns; similarly, punters in this country have little cash for gambling on the works of unfamiliar artists – hence they often prefer to follow only one or two bands exclusively.
If either of these turns out the occasional dog they will therefore make damn sure that they find something they like about it, even if it`s only the sleeve art.
It might actually be very pleasant to be an artist in this position – to be able to sit back and know that your work is being purchased almost on conditioned-reflex.
But the temptation to take liberties, to develop a cynical attitude to your audience and want to play little games with their gullibility must be very great.
More than that, this kind of “freedom” has to be damaging to the development of your art because you have nothing left to strive for.
It is, after all, a truism that an artist`s best work is often produced under strict discipline and duress.
Not that 10cc are in that position yet.
But, on the evidence of the contents of “How Dare You!” the results of their having been over-indulged by both press and public (as the pioneers of intelligent, satirical pop) are beginning to show.
“How Dare You!” is quite astonishingly insubstantial.
Musically, there is nothing comparable to “I`m Not In Love”, lyrically there is nothing as “witty” and nimble as “Life Is A Minestrone”.
Whatever happened to the kind of intelligence that produced a track like “Speed Kills”?
Having said that, I also acknowledge that comparisons are unfair.
But, on any terms this album appears to be an unloved pre-fab job assembled by a group of musicians with little feeling for their music beyond a preoccupation with sound quality (and even that isn`t as fully exploited here) and even less for each other.
One does not expect a “warm”, endearingly human album from 10cc, but it does come as a surprise to be confronted with something as perfunctory as this.
I can only think to attribute this to the damaging effects of the kid glove treatment they seem to have received since changing record companies – and, perhaps to a certain over-confidence as a result of “I`m Not In Love”.
I mean, is it really such a good thing to spend over three months recording an album?
The album opens with the title track, “How Dare You!” which is epochal because it is 10cc`s first instrumental.
It might be the best described as 1984 factory music – the sound of massed cybernauts at their workbenches. The most one can say for it is that it`s cleanly executed. Essentially a filler, though.
“Lazy Ways” sets the musical mood for the rest of the album – a vague reprise of the atmosphere of “I`m Not In Love”; itself a reprise of the atmosphere of the Beach Boys` “Feel Flows”.
Lyrically it is an expansion of the idea proposed by one of the characters in “Catch-22” – that one can extend one`s life span by cultivating boredom:
“You get less done but,
more out of your days”.
“I Wanna Rule The World” takes the form of – again – a kind of cybernetic chant made more eerie through simple use of synthesised electric piano. However,
“I wanna be a boss/I wanna be a big boss/I wanna boss the world around/I wanna be the biggest boss that ever bossed the world around”
– does not constitute profound social commentary to me. Nor do the lines:
“Gimme the readys/Gimme the cash/Gimme a bullet/Gimme a smash”
(in Art For Art`s Sake”) – which are no more “perceptive” about “greed” than the Floyd`s “Money” lyrics.
In any case, The Last Poets, will never be surpassed as the masters of the form used for “I Wanna Rule The World”.
Aside from this, the dramatic impact of “I Wanna Rule The World” is greatly diminished by the group`s apparent inability to keep things simple – something they threw out between “Sheet Music” and “The Original Soundtrack”.
I am greatly disappointed to see them reverting to the old lamebrain impress-a-crowd technique of incorporating 2,000 chord changes a minute.
At times they almost sound as if they`re trying to re-record Queen`s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
It does, however, feature A JOKE:
“I get confused, so confused/I get a pain, I get a pain up here/In the Shirley Temples”.
The perfunctory 10cc pun.
“I`m Mandy, Fly Me” seems similarly pointless apart from representing that same pre-occupation with Sounding Important by tearing off the aforementioned blitz of chord changes.
“Iceberg” attempts to poke fun at platitudes in the same vein as “Life Is A Minestrone”, except that Minestrone is replaced by Iceberg.
Really, it`s so tedious I can`t think of much else to say. Depressing too.
There is, however, a fine Eric Stewart guitar solo closing an extended version of the single “Art For Art`s Sake” which opens side two.
“`Head Room`,” says the press release, “looks at a young man`s first encounter with sex.”
With the same kind of consciousness and dependence on dreary innuendo that pervaded Procol`s “Souvenir Of London”.
Simply crass – like the lyrics of “Iceberg” which conclude:
“There`s really not a lot that you can do/And I might be back for sloppy seconds”.
What`s that about?
Presumably the same tired schoolboy humour inherent in the lines
“Dumb waiters waiting sweating straining/All mass-debating my woman”.
– of “Don`t Hang Up”, which, thankfully, close the album.
The most insidious thing about the whole 10cc approach – which I wouldn`t mind if they could retain their initial high standards – is that it`s infectious.
At a time when, more than ever, we`re desperately in need of a return to simplicity, naivete, boy-girl lyrics and a Good Guitar Sound, 10cc are busy spawning mind-rot like “18 With A Bullet” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Give me “No Milk Today” any time.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With a great, big thank you to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Cat Stevens, Patti Smith, Grateful Dead, Albertos y Lost Trios, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Dion, The Great British Music Festival.
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