With Godley & Creme departing to work on their un-10cc-like Consequences
project, Gouldman and Stewart were left to carry on the 10cc name. They had the help of touring drummer Paul Burgess, but he wasn't going to be a major asset in terms of songwriting, but I guess he could've helped keep a connection to their golden years with G&C.
So with their first album as a duo, Gouldman and Stewart had a lot to prove - that they could make an album worthy of the 10cc name. And to my ears, Deceptive Bends
is a success, and pretty close to getting a 6 star rating.
The ever-increasing presence of love songs has been a source of criticism for this album many times, but Gouldman and Stewart were still on a songwriting high, so even if these songs are nowhere near as revolutionary as "I'm Not in Love", they are still tremendously well written.
"The Things We Do for Love" is a highlight - it's a warm and inviting 50's-style sendup, with lyrics that predict rather than adhere to certain lyrical clichés, though not necessarily in the manner of "Silly Love". On this one, the lyrics sound more intentional, but nevertheless still sincere. I've heard of comparisons to bands like Foreigner, but there's no attempt at sounding tough here despite the lyrical motives, which is what makes Foreigner's ballads questionable in the first place.
"People in Love" is slightly weaker, but Stewart's singing and the guitars are pleasantly soft and silky, and while there are string arrangements present, they in no way make the song schmaltzier, they actually add a bit of tension (I imagine they represent the more emotionally challenging moments of love as opposed to the 'dreamier' aspects in the guitars and the vocal delivery).
On "Marriage Bureau Rendezvous" they actually predict the whole Internet dating movement by a good quarter-century(!). Musically, it's lush guitar/keyboard pop, just like "I'm Not in Love" - I actually get the feeling that it's about the main character of the latter song trying to move on - and while it's obviously inferior, it's still a worthwhile song, the harmonies are particularly enjoyable.
If you listen to 10cc for the angular guitars and the funny lyrics, those songs obviously aren't for you, but there seems to be a reason they're all packed together in the middle of the first side.
A whole bunch of the remaining tracks could easily be called 10cc classics - the opening "Good Morning Judge" has a simple almost bluesy riff, with Stewart slyly telling a tale of a man's defence in court, with some great tongue-in-cheek lines, especially at the end of each verse. Add the tasty slide guitars and the silly bass vocals in the chorus supporting the defendant (He didn't do it, he wasn't there
eh?), and it's a song that clearly shows Godley & Creme's tenure was still fresh on their former partners' minds. In fact, I think this was part of their live set before the split with 10cc.
The side closer "Modern Man Blues" is – you guessed it! – a blues, but it's no ordinary 12-bar affair, the verses are moody and modern-sounding (something about the echo, I guess), with some great barking vocals from Stewart, which - had they been reprised on their rockers in the 1980's - would've made their final albums slightly more interesting. The chorus is more of an upbeat boogie, contrasting with the feel of the verses via its celebratory lyrics about the departure of an undesired girlfriend (the nagging bitchy woman
of the verses, as she's referred to at some point). It could be seen as a sign of 'weakness' that they would fall back on blues, generally a very conservative style, but since it's not a 12-bar and there are plenty of tempo changes, it's certainly a more creative blues than some of their early B-sides with G&C (see the bonus tracks on their self-titled album and Sheet Music
The flipside of the record continues with the excellent "Honeymoon With B Troop", the very best track on the album, and certainly their best post-G&C number. Stylistically, it's a cross between mock-disco (the rhythm) and mock ABBA-style pop (the bouncy keyboards with lead guitars playing in unison), with robotic, megaphone-enhanced backing vocals, which comically repeat bum bum bum
after the verse that ends with don't touch her
. It also has some terrific lines like My baby goes topless, and brings beauty to a bottomless day
, certainly a classic worthy of we're the worst band in the world and we don't give a —
. If that's not enough, Stewart rips up a shrill guitar solo at the end, which is particularly impactful since it's introduced by some oddly menacing whispering ('oddly' because of the contrast with the lyrics).
"I Bought a Flat Guitar Tutor" might seem like filler, but it might be intentional, since the joke is one that only musicians, music students, or music teachers will get - the lyrics basically call out the chords to be played as they are being played. I find it hilarious (and I even try to follow along with my own guitar, but usually get it wrong because I suck at jazz chords), but even if you don't, it's a fun lazy jazz shuffle, and it's less than two minutes long anyway.
If it does bother you, maybe the next song will perk you up. "You've Got a Cold" is a funny funk-rocker with lyrics pertaining to this common and highly annoying ailment. The bubbly synth-bass throughout is probably the tune's best aspect, along with the equally rhythmic guitars. The middle-eighth is where the fun really happens, with what sounds like immature imitations of early-60's Beach Boys, not to mention the rising ooh-ooh
s as the sonic equivalent to the rise in temperature they're singing about.
The album's concluding "Feel the Benefit" is another stab at a mini-epic, and - like "Don't Hang Up" - while I was never too fond of it at one time, I've grown to like it. The song is multi-parted, with a pretty ballad part-reminiscent of The Beatles' "Dear Prudence" (it has a similar guitar line), a catchy although preachy chorus, and even hints at the band's then-future affair with cod-reggae in one of the later sections. As a plus, there's what may be Stewart's best guitar solo in the outro, suitably cathartic for the song's generally serious mood. The song's appeal may not be immediate, but it's a grower, and the same could be said about the whole album. The G&C spirit had still yet to fade, after all.
My version has some bonus tracks, and they're all pretty great. "Hot to Trot" is a clownish funk tune, with cheesy yet effective uh-huh uh-huh
background vocals and pseudo-arrogant chorus. "I'm So Laid Back, I'm Laid Out" is also somewhat funky, a bit slower and adequately lazy. I'm especially fond of the half-finished and I ...
pre-chorus and the atmospheric slide guitar. They're probably among the best 10cc bonus tracks. The lone ballad "Don't Squeeze Me Like Toothpaste" isn't quite as good as the title - it's a pretty country-ish ballad, like the last album's bonus track, but there's not much else to say about it.Rated:
by Reviewer: Mr X Music Reviews
Posted: Friday 27th Mar 2015 5:46 PM
CCR were so successful that their sound has now become associated with the 60's by many. Yet at the time, many critics thought they were reviving the 50's rockabilly sound. On Cosmo's Factory
, it seems like they're deliberately setting out to make a 50's-style album.
There's the hit singles, covers of 1950's songs, filler, and - most indicative of all - a sequence that suggests some record company executive determined the song order by plucking the titles out of a hat.
But Creedence doesn't make just any 50's album. The hits epitomize the art of singles, the covers are immaculate recreations, and the filler is so fillerly it chews nearly a quarter-hour off the clock.
Everyone knows the hits, and they're uniformly great. "Who'll Stop the Rain" is one of the few Creedence singles where Tom Fogerty creates a double-guitar hook - John Fogerty plays a few ringing notes, and Tom's downward chord change completes the musical idea. And I love the frantic drum fills in "Travelling Band" - they shift the unwavering beat for just a half-second (the song is pure 50's rock, taken directly from Little Richard's style).
"Run Through the Jungle" has the world's most threatening handclaps (probably recorded in an echo chamber), and "Long as I Can See the Light" reflects an influence you wouldn't suspect with CCR ... Gospel. And it works well as a vocal quartet number.
There's another original too, that's half filler. "Ramble Tamble" takes an exciting beginning, with a chills-down-the-back riff and spooky lyrics, plus a nice dramatic close, but sticks in about 3 minutes of creepy long guitar notes that completely break up the action.
Covers were never Creedence's strong point. From the monotonous "Suzie Q" to the unconvincing "Night Time is the Right Time" (both from earlier albums), there was something about the band's approach that made their originals sound much better than their covers, but still, they don't quite ruin anything here. "Before You Accuse Me" could swing a little more, but John's got those blues licks down, and Tom's rhythm line pushes the number into rock territory. Roy Orbison considered "Ooby Dooby" the dumbest song he ever did, but it hops along nicely here.
There are lots of approaches a band can take when they've got vinyl to fill. You can record the band chatting over instrumental vamps, you can let the less-inspired members of your band take a turn at the mic, or you can play some instrumentals. Creedence takes the latter approach, and fry their listeners' attention spans with an 11-minute version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine". The first 3 minutes or so are fine, the usual Creedence-not-quite-mastering-the-groove cover style, and there's even a pleasant guitar solo, with lots of quick stinging runs. But it goes on and on and on, and on and on and on - for Pete's sake, it's monotonous.
There is a funny moment in "Grapevine" though, when it's clear that John was listening to Marvin Gaye's version, because Marvin sings the third verse as people say believe half of what you see son, and none of what you hear
in a way that's hard to understand. So John just sings it phonetically as people say you hear from what you see, na na not from what you hear
The biggest complaint about this album is its incoherence. It jumps from peak to valley with no thought to establishing a mood, or putting weaker songs together, so as not to highlight their flaws by sticking them between two monster hits. But if anybody's entitled to use the 50's approach to track-sequencing it's Creedence (old Elvis albums lurched from ballad to rockabilly to Hollywood movie soundtrack). It's largely through their efforts that rockabilly and blues licks are still such a large part of the rock and roll vocabulary.Rated:
by Reviewer: Steve Knowlton
Posted: Friday 27th Mar 2015 6:57 PM