10CC: MIRROR MIRROR (1995)
1) Yvonne's The One; 2) Code Of Silence; 3) Blue Bird; 4) Age Of Consent; 5) Take This Woman; 6) The Monkey And The Onion; 7) Everything Is Not Enough; 8) Ready To Go Home; 9) Grow Old With Me; 10) Margo Wants The Mustard; 11) Peace In Our Time; 12) Why Did I Break Your Heart; 13) Now You're Gone; 14) I'm Not In Love.
At least this one does not pretend to be a "reunion", but that's hardly a sufficient excuse for the album's predictable weakness. If ...Meanwhile was made somewhat marginally acceptable with the aid of one or two strong melodies ('Woman In Love') and relaxed party atmosphere on its barroom rock numbers, then Mirror Mirror plunges the listener back into the stale waters of adult contemporary head-on.
The best I can say is that Stewart is jumping over twenty-feet high fences, trying at all costs to emulate the melodicity of Paul McCartney, as if their 1985 collaboration on Press To Play was the most important event of his life, deserving to be waxed nostalgic about every time he crosses the threshold of a recording studio again. 'Yvonne's The One', the opening number, is, in fact, a ten-year old outtake from those sessions, and Paul even drops by to play rhythm guitar on it, which never saves the song from being completely pedestrian and forgettable (well, it's hard to expect anything other from an outtake for the sessions for McCartney's worst album). And 'Blue Bird' is not a cover of the McCartney song, but it sounds eerily like a fifty-fifty cross between McCartney and Justin Hayward (also, by the way, one of Eric's good friends — coincidence? maybe not, although why is the track credited exclusively to Gouldman, I wonder?); so eerily, in fact, that I am completely unable to judge it on its own, and the most that it gets me is a nagging desire to relisten to my Moody Blues collection.
I can't say that Mirror Mirror is not melodic; that would be a direct lie. But these aren't melodies that one should live or die for, and certainly not when they're used to convey straight-faced, deadly serious sentimentality ('Code Of Silence', one of the most revolting songs about broken relationships I've ever heard from a formerly good artist; 'Grow Old With Me' — much worse than the Lennon song of the same name; 'Why Did I Break Your Heart' — yuck) with the help of synthesizer arrangements that, by 1995, were already considered the epitome of cheesiness by just about everyone who wasn't a ten-year old ten years before that. Another heavy blow is that barroom rock is out, and in its place they reinstate their bland reggae and calypso schtick ('Take This Woman', 'Margo Wants The Mustard', etc.). And as a final insult, the record includes a reworking of 'I'm Not In Love' (some editions include two different reworkings of 'I'm Not In Love'!) that dares to suggest their limp adult contemporary of 1995 somehow owes something to their masterpiece of 1975!
On second thought, it does owe something, but it just goes to show you what twenty years of taste deterioration can do to one's creativity. Thumbs down; a most ignoble end to a formerly brilliant career — at least no one seems to have noticed, because for most people 10cc had already died a quiet death at least twelve or fifteen years ago, and only a few unfortunates (like record reviewers) are forced to see these old ghosts.