10CC: THE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK (1975)
1) Une Nuit A Paris; 2) I'm Not In Love; 3) Blackmail; 4) The Second Sitting For The Last Supper; 5) Brand New Day; 6) Flying Junk; 7) Life Is A Minestrone; 8) The Film Of My Love; 9*) Channel Swimmer; 10*) Good News.
If 10cc was the sound of a genius band in its infancy, and Sheet Music — the teenage wild child running round and trying all sorts of nasty tricks on its neighbours, then The Original Soundtrack is, by all means, a mature and much more responsible young man looking for a job. (Hint: not everyone will consider this to be a good thing).
Experimentation is still the word of the day, and so is Satire and Sarcasm; but Madness and Whirlwind no longer are. They seem to have gotten tired of genre-hopping, for one thing, and most of the selections here are strictly within "pop rock" territory, or maybe "prog-pop" territory... it's still a huge territory, to be sure, but the most oddball of styles, like the calypso of 'Hotel' or the tribal airs of 'Baron Samedi', do not make any more appearances.
For another thing, the piecemeal melodies are almost gone as well. They have relegated all the jig-saw puzzle constructing to just one track, the opening mini-operetta 'Une Nuit A Paris', about the life and death of a, so to speak, respectable courtesan, but mini-operettas are supposed to be multi-part, and since when do we have a band like 10cc doing what it is supposed to do? The element of surprise is pretty downtrodden here, to say the least.
Or maybe this whole feeling of increased seriousness and solemnity is due to 'I'm Not In Love', the band's first (and biggest) hit to not sound like a parody. The song stupefied listeners with its arrangement — layers upon layers of vocalizing synthesizers and synthesized vocals that created an atmosphere of such heavenly dreaminess as had never been experienced before. Today, much of this is routine matter, and the same tones and tricks have been used over and over again in uncountable "adult contemporary" ballads, so it's almost as hard to realize the groundbreaking potential of 'I'm Not In Love' back in 1975 as it is to marvel at the wonders of the first notes played on electric guitar. But that doesn't make the song itself any less inspiring, or its lyrics any less inspired — 'I keep your picture upon the wall/It hides a nasty stain that's lying there' sounds sad upon first listen, hilarious upon the second one, and soon afterwards achieves a perfect synthesis of irony and despair so that guess all you like, you won't be able to discover the primary motivation behind the composition.
It's little wonder that after the grand opening of 'Une Nuit A Paris' and the groundbreaking follow-up of 'I'm Not In Love', the rest of the album seems rather hastily slapped on, or, at best, just somewhat out of place. For instance, 'Blackmail', a lively pop-rocker about a hilariously botched attempt at blackmailing a promiscuous girl's husband, would feel more at home on Sheet Music or even 10cc — closing out the first side with this little ditty is a bit anticlimactic. And as for the second side, I can never memorize much of it except for the blistering heavy metal opening of 'The Second Sitting For The Last Supper' (the lyrics, about how we really need a second Last Supper these days, are great, though) and the carnivalesque optimism of 'Life Is A Minestrone' (served up with parmesan cheese, no less). It's not bad, just not up to 10cc's better standards.
Therefore, although the brain, as usual, is on highly friendly terms with this band (that is, while it was still a band rather than a duet), it is only reluctantly that the heart issues its thumbs up, which hardly applies to the second half of the record. Still, this is certainly not "the beginning of the end", rather just a momentary loss of focus justified by ambitiousness of the goals.
Check "The Original Soundtrack" (CD) on Amazon