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Thursday, October 8, 2009

10cc: Live In Japan


1) The Wall Street Shuffle; 2) I'm Mandy, Fly Me; 3) Good Morning Judge; 4) Welcome To Paradise; 5) Things We Do For Love; 6) Across The Universe; 7) The Stars Didn't Show; 8) Art For Art's Sake; 9) Feel The Benefit; 10) Dreadlock Holiday; 11) I'm Not In Love; 12) Bullets Medley.

Originally released as simply Alive, with a slightly extended setlist (including cover versions of 'Paperback Writer' and even 'Slow Down'), but today more easily found as Live In Japan or Best Of Live or, perhaps, under a further extra dozen titles, and with fewer tracks. Not that it makes any difference: there is no reason whatsoever even for major fans to own this album.

It does, I suppose, present a relatively faithful picture of 10cc's live power circa the early 1990s: golden oldies mixed in with recent material, performed with enough professionalism and energy to justify the ticket price. But if the old-time 10cc at least bothered to make their immaculately polished studio stuff acquire extra vivaciousness, at the expense of neutralizing some of the hooks but with the added benefit of genuine rocking-out, this late-period 10cc is, in all respects, stiffer than a stiff. 'Art For Art's Sake' is the only track on which the band dares to jam a little towards the end, with Stewart churning out a solid extra guitar solo. Everything else is just scared shitless of adding something to or detracting something from the originals, no matter how fresh or how bearded those are — even to the extent of wiping out most of the audience noises, a technique that is very rarely encountered. We've all heard of "false live albums" with overdubbed applause, but how often do we hear of true live albums with suppressed applause?

A particular sign of bad taste is when the bad songs — like 'Welcome To Paradise' — are given all the necessary time to further ingrain their badness in us, but the great songs — like 'Rubber Bullets', 'Silly Love', and 'Life Is A Minestrone' — are crammed together into a medley, as if the people at the show actually bought tickets to hear 'there's a coup coming on, there's a coup co­ming on'. Of course, they do faithfully run through their biggest commercial hits — 'Good Mor­ning Judge', 'Dreadlock Holiday', and a further adult-contemporarified 'I'm Not In Love' — but none of that is particularly adventurous either.

Thumbs down, of course, primarily from the brain that is justified in seeing no reason for the record's existence, although that does not mean these are technically "poor" performances or that the setlist isn't mostly consisting of great material (I certainly could do without the over-emotive cover of 'Across The Universe', and I have little reason to believe that their 'Paperback Writer' is a threat to Paul McCartney's stature in any way possible, either). If it's your only chance to get to know 10cc, there's no reason to turn it down, but it destroys my brain to even attempt to imagine that kind of real life situation.

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