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How Dare You!

Mercury SRM-1-1061
Released: February 1976
Chart Peak: #47
Weeks Charted: 13

Eric StewartGraham GouldmanThe quintessential 10cc moment comes at the end of How Dare You: an ethereal voice pleads, "Don't hang up!" The riff is pretty and relaxing. Suddenly, "Brrr..." She's put the phone down. This is funny the first time, clever the second and irritating from then on. Which, I guess, sums up 10cc.

In the past, the group has suffered cruelly from being overrated. Praised for their wit and intelligence, they were also misunderstood, though wittier and more intelligent than they are or want to be. 10cc is an English pop group of a particular genre; remnants of the early Sixties beat boom, they had a vision of pop heaven in 1967, when Sgt. Pepper came out, and they've lived it ever since.

The clearest example of where they're really at on How Dare You is "I Wanna Rule the World," which comes complete with military beat, Hitler rant and a childish recitation. It ain't a song for intellectuals.

The mix is the same as before: elaborately constructed songs with constant changes, perfectionist performances and production, lyrics that are either silly or incomprehensible and anyway subordinate to the sound effects. There's one nice pun -- "Dumb waiters... all mass-debating my woman" -- and the occasional flash of a guitar solo. Over it all, there's the group's sound: floating harmonies, synthesizer and a hint of the Beach Boys. It can't sustain a melody, but then they don't write them. 10cc tracks are jingles strung together and they have the same hypnotic effect -- sit back and buy. There's no "I'm Not in Love" here, though, and for a pop group, that's gonna hurt.

- Simon Frith, Rolling Stone, 3/25/76.

Bonus Reviews!

I can't help but like a band that has a power-hungry teen character, in "I Wanna Rule the World," suffer a physical reaction from his ambition and moan, "I get confused, so confused/ I get pain, I get a pain up here/ In the Shirley Temples." My resistance to 10cc (which, as you may have gathered, was never very great) is further weakened by these lines from "Art for Art's Sake": "Gimme a country/ Where I can be free/ Don't need the unions/ Strangling me.... Art for Art's sake/ Money for God's sake."

10cc does a superb job of dissecting the smarmy and horrific dreams of the bent characters they portray. They are to rock what Monty Python is to humor. As always, they take special care in their arrangements and the crispness of performance. They may or may not be playing rock; they may or may not even be a "band" in the accepted sense. But whatever they are, they're awfully good and very funny.

- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 5/76.

Another collection of skilled looniness from the British quartet, highlighted by complicated vocal arrangements and varied instrumental usage. Song subjects deal with commercial satire, common but not usually vocalized desires, and social clichés taken to task. All four handle lead vocals, generally in some sort of falsetto style. And all four play a wide number of instruments. Strong LP on the whole, though some of the humor in each song tends to get lost unless one sits and listens extremely carefully to the words. Still, the group has created a distinctive overall sound that retains commercial elements. Actually, 10cc has developed a style and sound that most of the so-called party groups should have developed, and at this point these four are the only ones to make such a sound viable. Only complaint: songs do tend to run together, at least on the surface. Best cuts: "How Dare You" (instrumental), "Lazy Ways," "I'm Mandy Fly Me," "Rock'N'Roll Lullaby," "Head Room," "Don't Hang Up."

- Billboard, 1976.

The putrefaction isn't as extreme as on last year's hit album, but the affliction wold seem permanent -- they don't know whether they're supposed to be funny or pretty, and so nine times out of ten they're neither. C

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

"Lazy Days" and the title cut are nice, and fans of the band champion tracks like "I'm Mandy, Fly Me" (#60), "Art for Art's Sake," and "I Want to Rule the World" as evidence of 10CC's smarts, but the end result is a little too smug at times. In terms of production, 10CC's ultra-clean production sound is impressive. * * *

- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

How Dare You was the last effort by the complete band (Lol Creme and Kevin Godley would depart later in 1976). There isn't a standout track, but it holds its own with the essential titles (the band's first three albums). * * *

- Gary Plochinski, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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