Tenology [Bonus DVD]

by: 10cc

10cc has been subjected to countless compilations over the years -- the hits get recycled regularly and the early stuff for Jonathan King's U.K. Records gets shuffled around -- but they've never had a testament to their weird work until the 2012 box set Tenology. Running four CDs and one DVD, Tenology is certainly generous, but a case could be made that it could have been even longer, encompassing a disc of their early work making bubblegum for Strawberry Studios (in lieu of that, the 2003 Castle compilation, Strawberry Bubblegum serves as an excellent supplement to this), but what is here shows that 10cc was far stranger, savvier, funnier, and wilder than "I'm Not in Love" and "The Things We Do for Love" might suggest. Of course, their oddness was well-known during their '70s peak; they occupied a strange ground between Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons, Paul McCartney, and Cliff Richards, slick enough to slip onto the airwaves but at their heart clever-clever smart asses who just happened to prefer tight pop construction and lush studios to blues-driven space rock. The sequencing of this box highlights the group's preference for pop: the first two discs run through their singles, the third collects the band's hand-chosen album tracks, and the fourth has rarities and demos, all happening to be a little more concise than the cuts on the third. While the DVD is certainly for the diehards -- it has a BBC in Concert from 1974, some spots from Top of the Pops, all their promo videos, which are important as Kevin Godley & Lol Crème wound up as renowned music video directors in the '80s -- perhaps the best argument for Tenology is that it showcases the group's subtle, slick innovations and fertile imagination in a way not even their excellent albums do. Taking this all as a body of work, from those egregiously strange U.K. sides to the ultraglossy, late-'70s singles, it becomes clear that 10cc were one of the odd wonders of the '70s: a bunch of Beatles-loving eggheads on a mission to turn out perfect pop and having the chops to do so. It's lengthy, but anybody who was ever wondering if there was more to 10cc than the well-worn hits will find a rousing affirmative answer here. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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