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10cc - Bloody Tourists CD (album) cover

BLOODY TOURISTS

10cc

 

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3.11 | 58 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Bloody Tourists, 10cc, 1978

Decent album by one of my favourite outlets of quality rock and oddball art-pop. Minus Godley and Creme, 10cc's grasp of parody becomes rather less consistent... the remaining Stewart and Gouldman partnership, while remaining rather fine songwriters and occasionally amusing lyricists with a penchant for melody, great voices and solid performances, seems to never to straddle the fine line between sincerity and parody but rather stumbles over it and back all too often. Musically, this album's both catchy and well-written BUT there are a disconcerting number of songs on this record that are not bad but non-highlights and where 10cc had most thrived was on coming up with songs that are both inescapably catchy and somewhat off the wall. But at least they start with one of them;

Dreadlock Holiday is one of 10cc's finest and best-received hits. Unless you do have some deep-seated moral objection to white men doing reggae, 10cc's merge of the genre's aesthetics with a sharp sense of parody (hence the thin organ tone) and a number of gorgeous pop hooks (listen to that marimba roll...) in a decidedly unusual format should be a somewhat uncontested highlight. While that basically puts the rest of the album to shame in terms of catchiness, quality and originality, the more-or-less narrative Anonymous Alcoholic with its neat funk middle comes close-ish.

Across the rest of the album, the more rock, fast-paced numbers seem to more or less fade once they're over. Shock On The Tube is a bit of a lyrical rehash of I'm Mandy (Fly Me); neat guitar line, runaway piano and the great harmonies. Last Night is a rather tamer riff-driven piece which, while memorable in bursts, doesn't really go very far.

The odd stuff comes in two parts: Old Mister Time has a sort of Gentle Giant vibe on the opening with dark choppy piano chords and the occasional odd effect. Lyrics decidedly thin and the character play isn't quite there. Great moments everywhere, with some remarkable Beach Boys-y Harmonies, but not a fully functioning whole.

The more progressive-sounding Tokyo is piled up with synths and guitar effects. Lead vocals fine as ever, harmonies better than ever. Lyrics haven't been great on the album, but with the slowed pace of this one, it's rather galling. Instrumental section a highlight.

Of the calmer pieces, slightly-too-comfortable ballad You And I is very pretty. Reds In My Bed borders on sluggish; the band is far too capable to mess anything up obviously but given that the only bit from the song that really stands out for me is the vocal harmonies, I think there's something decidedly beneath 10cc's regular standard in the writing. Take These Chains is marginally more noticeable. Lifeline's acoustic section is extremely pretty, making the ironic reggae alternation a little more entertaining. Some vocal melodies not miles beneath the Beatles' best work.

Rounded off with From Rochdale to Ocho Rias. A fun song. Indefensibly so, but still fun. Perhaps one of the album's better ones... vocal melodies fantastic, parodic bursts entertaining, energy kept throughout, guitar solo excellent. Strange that the album's most openly ironic piece seems both more sincere and effortlessly deep ('you spend half your life in transit, but that's just the way God plans it/toothbrush and some fresh pyjamas, that's all you need') than the extended story pieces.

10cc's earlier albums, aside from being some of the first music I really got into, continue to make me listen and make me smile... this doesn't really do that, but it's nice to listen to and has some of the best vocal harmonies and melodies they've written. Pick Bloody Tourists up if you're already into the band or want to see their more regular and subdued side more closely, if you're not, head over to such classics as Sheet Music, The Original Soundtrack and How Dare You for some of the finest and most disarmingly original art-pop known to man.

Rating: Three Stars, 10/15

Favourite Track: Dreadlock Holiday

TGM: Orb | 3/5 |

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