10cc: St Louis

10 C.C. IS A band with quite a past. The four members have had a lot of experience playing in English pop-rock groups; they are accomplished song writers and sellers; and they understand the importance and utility of solid lead singing combined with harmonizing. Their approach to rock and roll inevitably comes from out of their past, from what they know; however, their wit, satire and sarcasm, which is aimed at many well chosen targets, is sometimes reminiscent of early Zappa.

Because they stress lyrics and lyrical presentation, they use a conglomeration of rock styles, sometimes as many as three or four in one song. The result is surprisingly sustained, and contains more substance than many other bands who have tried the same.

Always instrumentally tight and inventive, a distant listening to 10 C.C. might make one think that they’re just a good dance band, but more careful inspection reveals an emphasis on vocalization and lyric content. They can vary the music from heavy metal pound to sweet, caressing, lullaby-like ballads. The message, the importance of the different kinds of sound is incorporated into the lyrics; the style of the music complements the meaning of the words and vice versa. In their new single, (‘Wall Street Shuffle’), which was one of their best live numbers, they actually croon, “Oh Howard Hughes, did your money make you better?/Are you waiting for the hour when you can screw me?”, and then, in a baritone, shout, “Cause you’re big enough”! The result is well timed and pungent mirth, rampant with puns, many of them sexual.

Much to my disappointment, and to the group’s too, the beginning of the set was marred by feedback screeches and a total P.A. imbalance; the problems were not their own fault, since the P.A. was not part of their equipment, and because they were not allowed a final sound check. To get one, they even came on 15 minutes late, and shortened their set. It didn’t work; but this is not to say that they were not enjoyable; they worked on the problems, and by their last four songs the music was well balanced, clear and distinct. By this time, the audience also began to respond; there was even enough clapping and reaction to warrant an encore, but there just wasn’t time.

Although rightfully upset about the problems encountered during their performance, everyone in the band was willing to chat about their past and present musical experiences. Interestingly enough, what the band that almost two years ago was christened “10 C.C.” had been doing was studio demos, since early 1970. When Jonathan King, legendary English pop phantom, started U.K. Records, he persuaded Graham, Lol, Eric, and Kevin to come out of the studio sound booths, to cut their own records, and to do their own tours. So they did, and here they are, with a forthcoming second album, and their second American tour.

Overlooking the out of control sound system here is St. Louis, they have been able to duplicate studio perfection in an acoustic atrocity like Madison Square Gardens, and win over a crowd which came to see Johnny Winter. Considering the depth and dancability of their music, perfection is what is called for, and perfection is what 10 C.C. seems capable of.

© Paul YamadaConcert News, July 1984

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