The Ultimate A To Z Of Album Reviews By Gary Steel – T

Gary Steel is slowly compiling all his album reviews in one place. This is a work in progress, or what we call a “live document”. Today is the letter ‘T’.



10cc – Greatest Hits (Mercury)

1979/Evening Post

10cc’s Greatest Hits is just that – a collection of their hit singles, not necessarily the best music 10cc have recorded.

The singles are tackled in mostly chronological order, starting with 1972’s classic satire ‘Rubber Bullets’, moving through all their other hits ending with last year’s ‘Dreadlock Holiday’.

There are a few trivial novelties marring the flow (‘Donna’ and ‘Good Morning Judge’), but these do not affect the brilliance of the ultra-cynical ‘Life Is A Minestrone’, or the beautiful ballad ‘I’m Mandy, Fly Me’.

In retrospect, it’s interesting to note that the best tunes are co-authored by Graham Gouldman, 10cc’s bassist/vocalist and writer of many hits including The Yardbirds’ ‘For Your Love’ and Herman Hermits’ ‘No Milk Today’.

The later songs, minus Lol Creme and Kevin Godley, are less incisively cutting, but more melodically interesting than earlier material.

Ultimately, 10cc is kept from greatness by the lack of atmosphere: lots of interesting, quirky ideas melded to pop music does not great music make. 6/10


This Sporting Life – Show Me The Bellrope (Flying Nun)

December 1982, IT Magazine

I hesitate to call this 30-minute-plus song slab a single, despite the $6.99 price-tag. Quite simply, Show Me The Bellrope would be an essential purchase at twice the price. The sound will be familiar to those of you who grooved to Alms For Children last year, as this is the same line-up with another name.

This disc is great – the sort of pulsating, damaging, reaction-demanding attack that makes you wonder how you ever got sucked in by the ABC’s and Spandau Ballet’s of this world. (Did we?)

I only have two minor complaints: the somewhat trebly 4-track Flying Nun sound quality, which ain’t pulsating enough by half, and the group’s penchant for repetition in song structure. 7/10


The Tourists – The Tourists (Logo)

1979/Evening Post

The Tourists stay at home on their debut album. 5/5


Tubes – The Completion Backward Principle (Capitol)

1981/In Touch

A much-Dolbyised, REO Speedwagonised Tubes make their bid for commercial success via a conceptual non-concept (i.e. a fart in the bath). The sort of thing Zappa might create in his sleep. White ‘punks’ up in smoke. 3/10


Tubeway Army – Tubeway Army (WEA)

1980/In Touch

This is Numan/Tubeway Army’s first LP, released in New Zealand for the first time and tying in with a tour by the man himself. It’s Numan as punk. You can tell his heart really isn’t in it: shouting aggressively just ain’t his style. But he gets the odd chance to try out his Bowie inflections, too.

It’s very easy to criticise Numan. His vocals allow a little emotion to slip through here and the subject matter is allowed breathing space, unlike his later, honed-down image. The music itself tries hard to be aggressive, but fails on that score. Numan’s guitar work (this is a guitar as opposed to synthesiser-based album) is straight out of some forgotten psychedelic scrapbook, while many of the tunes are Cars in foetal form.

While the sound lacks the well-defined crispness of later work, Tubeway Army does provide an insight of sorts into Numan’s head, as he allows himself the liberty of a little real emotion and musical eclecticism. This is most evident in the acoustic ‘Everyday I Die’, which shows Numan the folk singer-songwriter!

Numan freaks will love it, but others (there seems to be no inbetween) had better stay away. The essential Numan album is (and probably will remain) Replicas, but this is an interesting debut, even coming three years late.

Personally, I take my Numan one track at a time, but for those hooked on bigger doses of the sound, there’s plenty of it here. Just a little bonus for the fans. 6/10


Tycoon – Tycoon (Arista)


Tycoon is a faceless New York sextet with impeccable credentials – members served their apprenticeship with among others, Lou Reed, Johnny Winter and even an ex-Beatle.

But the music on their album amazingly resembles Uriah Heep (semi-heavy metal bubblegum music) and Grant Funk Railroad (beefy, dumb,  harmony vocals).

They have of course ditched the half-baked concepts and presentation, exchanging it for a slick, radio-orientated, homogenised sound.

Tycoon is 1970-75 encapsulated, with an added sense of economy, and the ability to write naggingly familiar tunes, as can be sampled on ‘Such A Woman’, ‘Count On Me’, or ‘Cry No More’. Tailored to please, thoroughly calculated. 5/5

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