10cc, How Dare You!

An exemplar of prog rock taken to a possibly illogical extreme, it's still a nearly unmitigated marvel to listen to. Complete even with overture, every single track is practically an operetta in miniature: laments of the bullied ("I Wanna Rule The World"), the mentally ill ("Iceberg") and harassed parents ("Rock 'N' Roll Lullaby"), wrapped up in boyhood sexual awakening (the bluesy "Head Room") and a layer of nostalgia ("Lazy Ways"). Any regret of the album's sole weak track (the desperately witty but monotonous morality play "Art For Art's Sake") is quickly dispelled by two more of exceptional skill: the saucy yet studiously formal "I'm Mandy Fly Me" featuring a remarkable bridge instrumental between the two halves of a shaggy stewardess story, and the absolute best of all, "Don't Hang Up"'s tale of a relationship on the skids, with heartfelt performance, perfect orchestration and knife-sharp wordplay ("when the barman said whatcha drinking, I said marriage on the rocks"). The subject matter may occasionally be a bit startling (how dare they, indeed!) but its originality never falters and neither will your interest. The CD reissue adds the lightweight "Get It While You Can," not of the same studio quality or level of wit as the rest of the album, but a worthy track all the same. (Content: adult themes.)