There have been a few DVDs—too damn few, in my opinion—from this group of comedy/satire art rockers, and this is the first with the noted line-up: three of the founders (Graham Gouldman, Paul Burgess, and Kevin Godley) along with long-time guitarist Rick Fenn, and latterday stalwarts Mick Wilson and Mike Stevens. In truth, it's a re-release of a 2008 film, Clever Clogs, and features the same snap of a pair of yellow clogs with various mathematical symbols and formulae painted on, reflecting the back cover blurb: "They always were a witty group. Too clever by half, some said. Others just said Clever Clogs".
Like the Bonzo Dog Band, Root Boy Slim, Weird Al, and a much too small catalogue of japester rock musicians, 10CC was a gem of a band in the firmament but too often classed with a number of other ensembles as novelty acts. Nothing, dear friends, could be further from the truth, so yobs averring such things can save that kind of pejorative for Mouth & MacNeal and other acts (Abba, heh!, comes to mind as well). I'm pretty sure I have every LP and CD they ever put out, not to mention all the Godley & Creme releases, and that monstrously cool but ridiculously underlauded Consequences landmark (a three-LP box beast that still defies categorization but we'll call it rock / art / cabaret / neoclassical / comedy / allegory anyway), and I spin the 10CC output itself a lot. Great musicianship, smart-arse social commentary, catchy hooks, infectious melodies, the boys had it all and show it well in this .
This concert also demonstrates that they could pull it all off live as well as they had in studio, a feat some doubted could be done, what with the multi-part vocals, shifts, and clever gizmo applications. It also gives a bit of sonic back history in Graham Gouldman's prolific writing history for The Hollies, Herman's Hermits, The Yardbirds, and others in an acoustic setting…until the electric For Your Love comes up, which the crowd was clamoring for. Perhaps the stand-out of the Brit gig was the return to the stage, after 30+ years, of Godley, England's David Crosby, who gives two stunning performances, first of Old Wild Men, then of the much later BeautifulLoser.com. He's older and put on a stone or two, but, sonofabitch, can he still sing!
In the extensive bonus features, Gouldman gives a back story for every single song, and I have to say that this kind of thing is much needed in rock DVDs. Being a film buff, I buy Criterion editions of films and am always fascinated by the usual second disc of historical bonus materials and critiques. As rock and roll painfully slowly is finally being granted legitimacy as an art form for the ages, it's time now for the bands themselves to start accommodating labels like Eagle Vision and Sexy Intellectual in telling their story right in the viewers faces. Books are all very well, but nothing beats hearing it from the lads themselves or getting better side critiques from valid crits rather than the mountains of wankers too often read in fly-by-night amateur forums.
Not long ago, I was stunned and delighted to run across a DVD of the aforementioned Bonzos on their 40th anniversary tour, a 2006 release I hadn't known even existed, and this 10CC vid is much in line with that. The Dog boys were madcap, zany, and slapstick while the 10CCers had more the Alan Parsons element, but all were and still are excellent musicians with tongues firmly in cheek. The Bonzos were whoopie cushions, 10CC tended to wistful sarcastic Romanticism, but, regardless, the mode both operate in is all too rare and more than worthy of preservation wherever it arises. After all, we can dig Flanders & Swann and PDQ Bach just as much as Spike Jones, yes? Thus, jump on this sort of whimsy, commentary, and craftsmanship wherever you find it.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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