Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • 10cc [UK, 1973] B+
  • Sheet Music [UK, 1974] B
  • The Original Soundtrack [Mercury, 1975] D+
  • 100cc [UK, 1975] B-
  • How Dare You? [Mercury, 1976] C
  • Greatest Hits 1972-1978 [Polydor, 1979] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

10cc [UK, 1973]
If you only know the forty-five-rpm version of "Rubber Bullets," then you missed their best rhyme: "balls and chains" with "balls and brains." A calculated, devilishly clever version of what the Beach Boys ought to be doing. Or the Bonzo Dog Band should have done. Or something. B+

Sheet Music [UK, 1974]
Points for studio mastery and general literacy--"Oh Effendi," about the vicissitudes of Middle Eastern trade, is Cole Porter-ishly clever--but demerits for a detachment that might seem pathological if it weren't so damned expert. Great satire communicates a feeling--most often hatred or anguish, although it can be kinder, as in "The Dean and I" on 10cc--that is lacking from this too-too apollonian (cerebral? professional? glib?) endeavor. Though if the feeling itself is absent, a good beat will sometimes suffice in its stead. B

The Original Soundtrack [Mercury, 1975]
Is it supposed to be a parody to make your imitation movie mush more unbearable than any real thing, or just expert musicianship? And stretching your only decent melody (a nonsatirical love song) over six tedious minutes, is that a joke? And who is the butt of "Une Nuit A Paris," the dumb yank or the greedy frog? Cor, or do I mean blimey, most of this wouldn't last long enough to close Saturday night. D+

100cc [UK, 1975]
It can't be easy to put together a compilation album that's less listenable than either of the two regular-issue LPs to which you have access, but displaced impresario Jonathan King, trailing kisses in the direction of "I'm Not in Love" (which he doesn't control) and "Everyone's Gone to the Moon," does the trick here with the help of a few B sides. Secretly, I suspect, King still hopes to score a schlock smash like the two aforementioned, so instead of sticking to the uptempo burlesques that are 10cc's entree to the human race he gives a lot of their art-school slow stuff a second shot. And comes up with zilch. B-

How Dare You? [Mercury, 1976]
The putrefaction isn't as extreme as on last year's hit album, but the affliction would seem permanent--they don't know whether they're supposed to be funny or pretty, and so nine times out of then they're neither. C

Greatest Hits 1972-1978 [Polydor, 1979]
Separating the jokes from the japes, eschewing atmospheric preciosity, and climaxing with two great pieces of lovesong schmaltz that define the group's seriousness, this is as consistent a 10cc LP as you can buy. But I miss oldies like "Johnny, Don't Do It," "The Worst Band in the World," "Oh Effendi." And I still don't believe "Dreadlock Holiday" is "Safe European Home" in corporate-rock drag. B+

Further Notes:

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]