10CC: TEN OUT OF 10 (1981)
1) Don't Ask; 2) Overdraft In Overdrive; 3) Don't Turn Me Away; 4) Memories; 5) Notell Hotel; 6) Les Nouveaux Riches; 7) Action Man In Motown Suit; 8) Listen With Your Eyes; 9) Lying Here With You; 10) Survivor.
The band was once again "stripped down" for this release, with Gouldman and Stewart exclusively sharing all the songwriting and most of the playing credits (for the American release, several songs were replaced by collaborations with American singer-songwriter Andrew Gold). However, essentially this is just a bit of trivia: in spirit, there is no significant difference between this record and the few ones before.
Except for the sad fact that there is no spirit whatsoever on Ten Out Of 10. In fact, it may be the first 10cc record that has absolutely no reason for existing; I do not have the vaguest idea of the kind of serious music listener who could be satisfied with it. It's just a bunch of mid-tempo, mid-volume, mid-relevance, mid-everything mid-pop songs written by two mid-aged gentlemen that seem to be but mid-knowing what they're mid-doing. Someone like Paul McCartney could probably allow himself to get away with it from time to time; but, after all, Paul's gift for melody has always been more generous than Gouldman's, and Paul's vocals have always been lovelier than Eric Stewart's (a debatable opinion, that, but I'd probably be supported by the masses here), and even then Paul did not always get away with it — and it is hardly a coincidence that Paul's least satisfying record, Press To Play, was but a matter of several years away from 1981, and would be representing the pitiful results of his collaboration with none other than Eric...
...but I digress. Although, frankly, I'd rather digress a while than speak about these songs. As usual, they fall strictly into two genres: sappy ballads, only saved from the ultimate depth of fall by slightly above average lyrics, and limp pop rockers that crumble into reggae every now and then, as if that still mattered in 1981. 'Don't Turn Me Away' stands out as an okay representative of the former, and the biting, but toothless social critique 'Les Nouveaux Riches' stands out as an okay representative of the latter; both were singles, and both deservedly flopped — of course, they didn't flop because they were bad songs, but rather because they sounded so miserably outdated against the background of 1981's hit material, regardless of quality.
I have encountered several critical opinions on the record stating that it was really a creative rebound for the band or even a true "return to form" after Look Hear? I have no idea what that meant, and I have no idea how or why in between two really weak records they could have managed to place a true artistic winner. My feelings and thoughts on Ten Out Of 10 are in full agreement with each other: it's just one more step down the ladder from two guys who continue to go on making music because it's their professional duty and for few, if any, other reasons. And if the album title is indeed a shameless psychological trick (after all, if you simply state that something is good, there'll always be someone who'll believe it without questioning), it's just one more reason to hand this a certified thumbs down resolution.