10CC - Before, During, After: The Story Of 10cc album review
Roots-and-branches box-set covering the entire 10cc sprawl
The original lifespan of 10cc was always just one act of a far grander, more experimental production. It’s impossible to tell their whole story without their compilations including the early-80s successes of Godley & Creme and Wax alongside 10cc standards. So here, finally, is what we could call an all-encompassing 10cc: Director’s Cut.
This boxed Story Of 10cc is actually ordered During, After and Before. CD1 is the 70s greatest hits compilation we’re all familiar with, following their development from 1972’s glam parodists and helium doo-woppers of Rubber Bullets and Donna, through the sophisticated art-pop masters of I’m Mandy Fly Me, Art For Art’s Sake and I’m Not In Love, to their catchy/corny later hits – Good Morning Judge, The Things We Do For Love and Dreadlock Holiday. It encapsulates their core songwriting panache, storytelling nous and Pythonesque pastiche bent – see how Silly Love twists from T.Rex glam riffs into a 20s show tune.
But for its origin story we should first consider CD4, The Early Years, crammed with revealing formative curiosities. Eric Stewart tootles through A Groovy Kind Of Love with The Mindbenders in 1969, while Gouldman is a back-roomsongwriter writing proto-prog pop hits (Bus Stop, No Milk Today) for The Hollies and Herman’s Hermits. Ultimately the four-piece come together to hone their genre-hopping skills by backing both Neil Sedaka and Floydfolk man-mod Rameses, and thumping frivolities like Neanderthal Man as Hotlegs.
The tale gets tangled further on CD3, a truncated version of 2003’s Strawberry Bubblegum compilation of tracks largely recorded to order, under a plethora of aliases. A quick-change costume box of country, pastoral soul, quasi-reggae, psych folk, hippie gospel, and falsetto glitterbandcovers of Da Doo Ron Ron, this was the breeding ground of 10cc’s eclectic mischief.
Most fascinating is CD2 – Post 10cc, summarising what happened when these four spinning tops of ideas, freed from the band, ricocheted off into the 80s and beyond. Godley & Creme best cornered 10cc’s art of narrative pop on Wedding Bells and Under Your Thumb and the glorious Cry. Goulding took to 80s pop like a horn-blasted hero on Wax’s Building A Bridge To Your Heart, and only Stewart slipped into past-its-sell-by-date prog on The Ritual Parts 1-2-3 before redeeming himself on Paul McCartney’s Pretty Little Head. Lol Creme took such electronic adventurism further, dabbling in trip-hop with Art Of Noise and space soul with Trevor Horn’s The Producers, but they all remained restless explorers, brimming with inspiration.