Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time
Album: DECEPTIVE BENDS
[Welcome to Forty Year Friday, the weekly series on my favorite albums of 1977]
Can one incredible song turn an otherwise very good album into a great one? In the case of 10cc’s Deceptive Bends the answer is a resounding “yes.” The fifth album by this English art-rock band, which had previously scored several hits in their homeland as well as the worldwide smash “I’m Not In Love” in 1975, was also its first without founding members Kevin Godley & Lol Creme, who went on to record some wonderful music together and directed a number of groundbreaking videos for themselves & other artists. The remaining duo of multi-instrumentalists/producers Eric Stewart & Graham Gouldman, augmented by drummer/percussionist Paul Burgess, set out to prove that they weren’t merely “5cc” (as the cynical British press suggested). Although they lost some of the quirkiness that made their earlier records so much fun, the record is jam-packed with post-Beatles melodic tunes that take all kinds of surprising twists & turns. The jaw-droppingly awesome song I referred to above, “The Things We Do For Love,” was the album’s first single and also my introduction to the group as a 10(cc)-year-old. Opening with some of the atmospheric lushness of the aforementioned “I’m Not In Love,” it shifts to a pop/rock shuffle with numerous hooks, especially at “like walking in the rain and the snow…” and “ooh you made me love you, ooh you’ve got a way.” It’s a delightful slice of Paul McCartney pop perfection injected with a lovely little George Harrison-esque guitar solo that was a Top 10 hit in multiple countries. I can’t say enough about this song.
There’s nothing else quite like it here, and they never impacted the U.S. charts again, but as a fan of well-written, well-produced, super-melodic yet unpredictable music, I think it’s every bit as strong as their prior work. Album opener “Good Morning Judge” was another Top 10 hit in the U.K. I love the funky groove & bluesy guitar tone, as well as the quasi-disco/reggae feel at “He didn’t do it, he wasn’t there.” “People In Love” is a pretty piano-and-strings ballad with a catchy melody at “Ooh, sitting alone in the dark.” “Modern Man Blues” is a tight, almost sinister-sounding shuffle in 3/4 time that’s not quite raw enough to be real “blues” (other than the biting guitar solo) but I don’t think that was their intention. The lyrics are tongue-in-cheek about the need for a man to cheat (“A sophisticated man needs a little something on the side, so what you don’t get at home you’ve gotta get outside”). “You’ve Got A Cold” is a bouncy tune with a tight groove and a simple light-reggae chorus with the title repeated twice. I really enjoy the alternate section with call-and-response vocals (“Hot toddies/won’t help you, warm blankets/won’t sweat it out”), and it features another super-tasty guitar solo. “Honeymoon With B Troop” is a bit too schizophrenic, with each of its wonderful individual parts never quite sticking together, but I enjoy it nonetheless. “Marriage Bureau Rendezvous” enters soft-rock territory (nothing wrong with that), with hints of country, reggae, some more George Harrison-inspired guitar, and a strong hook at “Do you like ‘em small, love ‘em slim long & tall?” Deceptive Bends ends with a 3-part 11-1/2 minute suite called “Feel The Benefit,” which travels from an introduction that recalls The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” punctuated by dramatic accents & sweeping strings to a midtempo Badfinger/Harry Nilsson-style ballad to a Latin rhythm (subtitled “A Latin Break”) and back to “Dear Prudence” territory before its extended instrumental outro with searing guitar work. Some CD editions include the b-sides of the album’s three singles, all of which would have fit nicely on the original record, with “Hot To Trot” being my favorite. I still own my 45 of “The Things We Do For Love” even though I rarely play singles anymore, and I’ll never forget how excited I was the first time I heard it. That excitement returns every time I hear it, and the whole album still sounds fresh after 40 years.