I never understood this album. I never understood this band. However, I still bought their records.
The Original Soundtrack is not really progressive-rock, it really more art-rock. Think Genesis and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or Queen’s A Day at the Races. The album goes through so many style changes that unless you approach it with a very open mind, and give it several listens, you’ll be confused and disappointed. A few songs will jump out at you, but overall, you’ll miss the bigger picture. The Original Soundtrack was the group’s third album.
All four members of the band were fine writers and players, who seemed too confined by the pop genre of the day. They wanted to paint grand visions as some of the songs on this album show. You will notice the cabaret, opera, cowboy and other genres of popular music morphed into their art-rock expressionistic musical painting. Their vision and plan was so large that they could out kick their coverage, meaning audiences failed to grasp and embrace material that was even more ambitious than they wanted. Big arrangements, very glossy vocal layers, switching between musical styles within a song, and a hint of rock beneath the polished veneer.
I think of 10cc as the Monty Python of rock, they brought a sense of humor and rarely seemed to play it straight. It is unfortunate that the four members split after only a few albums, but it was obvious to me that there was friction and disagreement over musical direction. All four started in the 1960s, in various bands, recording a bit, and crossing paths with each other. In the early 1970s, the four were in a band called Festival and recorded a song that they even offered to the Beatles’ Apple Records.
“Une nuit à Paris” Opens the album, you probably think you wondered into a production of Cabaret. It is very theatrical and hardly what you would expect in 1975. Eight minutes and thirty-nine seconds of lush production.
“I’m Not in Love” The big hit on the album, the smooth, breathy vocals and sad melody and melancholy arrangement is probably the group’s most memorable song. Haunting and hard to forget.
“Blackmail” Another art-rock composition. A nice melody and arrangement, finely crafted showing the fine musicianship of the group.
“The Second Sitting for the Last Supper” Almost a punk rocker with a lot of aggressive energy, but an arrangement that smooths the edges. Shifting styles, one doesn’t quite know what the song wants to be.
“Brand New Day” Very operatic, like Queen. The group had a knack for layered vocals.
“Flying Junk” They could shift gears and write story-rock, with very stylish musical hooks. 10cc were distant cousins of Queen, Supertramp and ELO. Not designed to be a single, songs like this were really to be appreciated and digested over several listens to fully appreciate the complexity and content of the piece.
“Life is a Minestrone” A rocking and infectious melody, these guys could have been big rock stars if their material had been more serious. This song is evidence of their craft and talent, though the lyrics are intentionally silly.
“The Film of My Life” Another art-rock production of a song from a long time ago. Clever, but a bit cheeky for a rock album.
The original 10cc only stayed together from 1972-1976, although they would continue in various groupings over the decades. Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman continued to work together in late 1970s, producing two very good albums and the hit single, “Dreadlock Holiday.” Kevin Godley and Lol Creme worked together on various musical project but achieved great success as directors of musical videos.