Tuesday, 22 May 2018

"Sheet Music" by 10cc (April 2007 Cherry Red/7T's Records 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue and Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"...Groomed To Enrapture..."

Although the self-titled debut LP "10cc" had numbers like the fabulous "Donna" and (for me anyway) the ultra-irritating No. 1 hit "Rubber Bullets" - as an album their July 1973 starter on UK Records always felt underwhelming to me. Having said that some fans love it and see that initial ejaculation as a bit of a forgotten gem...

But as Michael Heatley's excellent liner notes point out - while many bands blew their best tunes on their debut only to find following up with more musical goodies problematical - 10cc actually did get better with every album thereafter. And their second platter "Sheet Music" from July 1974 (again on UK Records) only hammers this point home with a pistol-slapper. Despite the LP's overly knowing launch single "The Worst Band In The World" tanking chartwise (the public seemingly not in on the joke) - "The Wall Street Shuffle" follow-up 7" smashed the Top 10 and with "Silly Love" hot on the heels of that - everyone knew 10cc was not just special – but this so very British band had arrived.

But what I love about "Sheet Music" is that it's not a record dominated by the hit singles but by stunning album tracks like "Hotel" and "Somewhere In Hollywood" - the complexity of such songs being a stepping-stone to the full-on brilliance of "The Original Soundtrack" LP and of course the dazzling "I'm Not In Love" in 1975.

Reissued with fabulous audio by '7T's Records' - they're part of Cherry Red's roster of labels and in April 2007 also reissued the debut "10cc" on CD with Five Bonus Tracks (7T's Records GLAM CD 25 - Barcode 5013929042520) and threw in a further 14-Track CD compilation of their early 45s called "The U.K. Records Singles Collection" for good measure (7T's Records GLAM CD 27 - Barcode 5013929042728). But for now let's get to the 18-Carat "Sheet Music"...

UK released April 2007 - "Sheet Music" by 10cc on Cherry Red/7T's Records GLAM CD 26 (Barcode 5013929042629) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue and Remaster with Three Bonus Tracks that plays out as follows (47:29 minutes):

1. The Wall Street Shuffle [Side 1]
2. The Worst Band In The World
3. Hotel
4. Old Wild Men
5. Clockwork Creep
6. Silly Love [Side 2]
7. Somewhere In Hollywood
8. Baron Samedi
9. The Sacro-Iliac
10. Oh Effendi
Tracks 1 to 10 are their second studio album "Sheet Music" - released June 1974 in the UK on UK Records UKAL 1007 and August 1974 in the USA on UK Records AUKS 53017. Produced by 10cc - it peaked at No. 9 in the UK LP charts and No. 81 in the USA.

BONUS TRACKS: 
11. 18 Carat Man Of Means - Non-album B-side to "The Worst Band In The World", a January 1974 UK 7" single on UK Records UK 57
12. Gismo My Way - Non-album B-side to "The Wall Street Shuffle", a May 1974 UK 7" single on UK Records UK 69
13. The Worst Band In The World (Radio Version)

You get a picture CD (the LP’s artwork) while the 16-page booklet reproduces the lyrics from the lyric-sheet insert that came with original copies of the 1974 vinyl LP - whilst Pages 3, 4, 5 and 6 have a cool display of no less than 12 different 7" single pictures sleeves - French, Dutch, German and European rarities for the album's three 45's - "The Worst Band In The World", "The Wall Street Shuffle" and "Silly Love". Uber-fan MICHAEL HEATLEY provides the informative liner notes and the material is licensed from Jonathan King Enterprises (no Remaster Engineer named) - the Audio being superb - punchy and full.

The album spawned three singles – the first creeping out as early as January 1974 on UK Records UK 57. But despite its clever-clever title "The Worst Band In The World" combined with a non-album B-side in "18 Carat Man Of Means" – this primer was met with terrible indifference and even anger. The public it seems neither liked the in-joke or the song. But things changed radically when a month before the album’s release in June 1974 – UK Records tried "The Wall Street Shuffle" in May 1974 (UK Records UK 69) and again paired it with a non-LP B-side called "Gismo My Way". It worked. With its fab irresistible riffage and cool lyrics "The Wall Street Shuffle" peaked at No. 10 in the UK – giving the equally sophisticated Rock of the album a huge boost in sales. As a by-the-by - the word "Gismo" in the flipside song was famously about a contraption 10cc had placed over the guitar strings to give it more range and different sounds – a device they used on the indulgent 3LP Godley & Crème Box Set "Consequences" in 1977. They actually tried to sell the said Gismo as a new guitar innovation – but it didn’t take. Single number three was just as good and as hard rocking as money blitz in Wall Street. "Silly Love" was paired with "The Sacro-Iliac" from the album’s second side and arrived in late August 1974. But despite Top of the Pops appearances and heavy radio-play - it inexplicably stalled at No. 23 in the UK despite being just as good as its boogie predecessor.

As they sing "...here I am a record on a juke box...a little piece of plastic with a hole..." on "The Worst Band In The World" – the jokes about being the darlings of Rock and Roll who are too big to meet the roadies (left them in the van) suddenly feel so knowing and better than I remember them. "Hotel" has about forty different rhythms going on – Salsa, Bubblegum Pop, Rock and hell even a little Hawaiian – a genius little tune that surprises you every time as they sing about Americans and Islands and Riches and the ghost of Tarzan (gone over to the other side apparently). There is very 10cc sadness to "Old Wild Men" – a sideways ballad about forgotten musical heroes feeling the past-it pinch – dead strings and old drums (dig those doubled-up guitars ala Mike Oldfield). Side 1 ends with the tick-a-time-bomb of "Clockwork Creep" where the refrain "...Oh no you'll never get me up in one these again...” would reappear as the lead-in for "I'm Mandy, Fly Me" - the huge hit single from 1976's "How Dare You".

Side 2 opens with a killer – the takes-the-beauty-out-of-beautiful "Silly Love" – an acidic Rocker that takes the Royal Michael out of loved-up dudes. My favourite track on the album is the brilliant "Somewhere In Hollywood" - Queen in its scope and complexity - a sardonic look at casting couches and the pups Vaudeville threw up many becoming crazy dogs up in Beverley Hills. Again so many ideas going on - you can't help think that Tears For Fears were listening to this when recording "The Seeds Of Love". The album's final trio "Baron Samedi", "The Sacro-Iliac" and "Oh Effendi" continue on in that chop-change mode - flitting between Lounge Bop and Silly Dances and zippy wordplay like 'don't want to annoy ya with my paranoia'.

With 10cc newly signed to Mercury Records in 1975 for their third album "The Original Soundtrack" – UK Records tried a third themselves with the "Greatest Hits Of 10cc" compilation. Released May 1975 - the black-covered LP gathered up the obvious hits and placed them alongside those non-album B-sides – most of which have been provided as Bonus Tracks across these "10cc" and "Sheet Music" CD Remasters. Next stop would be the album glory days of "The Original Soundtrack" (1975), "How Dare You" (1976) and "Deceptive Bends" (1977).

But if you want to know why they caused a stir and are remembered with such affection forty-plus years after the event - pull back that "Sheet Music"...

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