This week we’re back towards a direction of music I’m more familiar with, some good old fashioned rock’n’roll. Well, kind of.
10cc’s 1977 record Deceptive Bends is apparently the beginning of a new era for the band, as its the first album they wrote after the departure of two of their original members. But I’m not here to compare new and old, and so this review will be solely focused on this album as a unique entity.
You may be able to tell from previous reviews that I’m a pretty big fan of progressive rock. So it’s suffice to say I was quite excited after seeing this album described as “progressive pop” and “pop rock.” After all, if you take the two, combine ’em, and take out the common word, you just get “progressive rock.” But as it turns out, that’s not really what’s happening here, not at all really.
Let’s dive in with the album’s opener, “Good Morning Judge.” Immediately the listener is hit with some nice southern rock-esque guitar before things get all 70s British. “Good Morning Judge” is a fun, sort of silly sounding song that’s all sorts of catchy. Serviced by its multiple refrains bridged together in a loose fashion and accented by a fun old-school guitar solo just after the song’s middle, this song immediately gave me high hopes for what this album would end up being.
The follow up is “The Things We Do for Love,” a song that takes the turn for the…well…Beatles. This song is good, don’t get my wrong. But it really has a thick Beatles-y feel, and seeing as this is a British band from the 70s, it seems suspiciously rip-offy. This unfortunately becomes a trend at this point in the album, as “Marriage Bureau Rendezvous” and “People in Love” both have the same haunting feeling that this is all one big attempt to ride the Beatles train, even if the Beatles hadn’t been a band for nearly a decade at the point of this album’s release.
“Modern Man Blues” strikes the similarities down however by being, well, a blues song. That difference however is about the only interesting thing going on with this song. It has some nice guitar, which is a positive I want to get out of the way and say applies to the whole album. This album has some fun guitar solos, but as someone whose favorite genre is rock, that’s not nearly enough to carry a song, let alone an album.
“Honeymoon with B Troop” is an improvement musically, as the song just feels more…unique. Not that it’s reached the heights of “Good Morning Judge,” but it’s better. Meanwhile, the lyrics read like some weird precursor to the grand sex rock of the 80s, but admittedly more subtle than anything David Lee Roth ever sung.
“I Bought a Flat Guitar Tutor” is an interlude where they make music puns. That is all. “You’ve Got a Cold” continues the silly tone of “I Bought a Flat Guitar Tutor” but in the form of a full song. Besides the humor, which is arguably “kinda funny, I guess?” not much stands out about either of these songs.
“Feel the Benefit” is this album’s prog epic and the one I was most excited for when looking at the track listing. Sadly the song itself is…just alright. The first part is nostalgic nonsense set to cheesy guitar and violins, the second is a slightly racist Latin breakdown, though I’ll give it credit in that it’s more fun than malicious, if the latter can even be said about it. It’s also the best part of the song. Part three goes back to being cheesy and gets weirdly preachy lyrically. The best parts of these songs are by far their instrumental breakdowns and jams, which is also true about the entire album. This song kind of represents everything I feel about this album, in that it’s silly, kind of disappointing, but not in a “it’s terrible” way, just in a “I expected more” way.
The next three tracks apparently weren’t on the original album, but are included in the streaming versions. Since I listened to them, I might as well talk about them as well. “Hot to Trot” is painfully generic high energy music with almost no pay off. “Don’t Squeeze Me Like Toothpaste” is like “You’ve Got a Cold” if it were even less funny. “I’m So Laid Back, I’m Laid Out” however, is actually kind of funny and evokes a similar feeling to “Good Morning Judge.” Honestly, this last track is what I expected the whole album to be after the opening track, and it’s an easy pick for the second best. If only the rest of the album could have been as great as its ends.
Overall, this album doesn’t do much, which is a shame because the musicians clearly have talent. They have some funky ideas, but the whole thing just feels too safe, with the biggest expression of the weirdness hiding beneath being the lyrics, which at times reach near-nonsensical level. It just feels like an album written by a band that wants to be as crazy and experimental as later-era Beatles, but is too afraid to fully commit.
My final rating for this album is a 6/10, a score denoting an above average album that does enough to stand out, but not enough to elevate it much higher.
Unfortunately I didn’t have much to say about this album, but it’s guaranteed to happen occasionally, as every album I listen to can’t be a momentous occasion. Ah well, maybe next week will be different when we take a look at Sidney Gish’s No Dogs Allowed.