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10cc - How Dare You! CD (album) cover




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3.70 | 99 ratings

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3 stars 'Soft rock'? No, the first time I heard this album I was surprised that the instrumental opening number and the ditto middle section of 'I'm Mandy Fly Me' were pure, unadulterated symphonic prog. Those two tracks were part of an astonishing A-side which features a sequence of songs that follow each other just as naturally as, say, the material on the A-sides of SGT. PEPPER or A NIGHT AT THE OPERA.

Some reviewers have compared 10cc's songwriters with Bjorn and Benny from Abba, but I beg to differ: 10cc's best efforts (of which HOW DARE YOU's A-side is one) are far more varied than Abba's singalong songs; they overflow with jokes and sudden mood changes. The standard comparison with Queen isn't particularly apt, either. Queen's massive choruses remind me of classical opera and oratorio; 10cc's choruses (and their four-part harmonies) are more closely related to the music you hear in pre-1960s Hollywood musicals. (For this reason, I guess, 10cc are also close in spirit to the vocal tracks on Zappa albums like ROXY AND ELSEWHERE or SHEIK YERBOUTI.) Moreover, when members of Queen (particularly Freddie Mercury) sing solo, their vocals are usually camp and fraught with sexual innuendo. 10cc's solo vocals are more polite and restrained - like old style English 'music hall'. There's an essential difference between Freddie singing 'Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon', and 10cc intoning the far more timid (yes, IN SPITE OF its lyrics) 'Headroom'...

So, let me sum up: HOW DARE YOU's original A-side is a highly inspired sequence of music which I really advise you to get hold of if you enjoy civilised, theatrical tune-smithery. The B-side is a different matter. Its middle tracks sound rather insipid and annoying. Its opener, 'Art for art's sake', isn't too bad, but after a couple of spins you'll tire of it. The final track, 'Don't hang up', is as brilliant as the first half of the album. (The CD bonus track, by the way, is totally forgettable.) When all is said and done, what does HOW DARE YOU have to offer? About 25 minutes of top-drawer music. Many so-called 'great' albums will give you far less.

fuxi | 3/5 |


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