Re: I almost prefer 10cc
I actually consider the last three songs you listed as blah as highlights. "Modern Man Blues" may be a blues, but it shows them cleverly deconstructing the genre. And during the G&C era, they did do some actual blues (albeit with Creme's Gizmo as the lead instrument) which were released as b-sides. "You've Got a Cold" is a funny funk number with silly, yet charming, doo-wop backup vocals, and the bubbling bass fits the mood of someone being sick perfectly (it sounds mucous-y to me). And while "Feel the Benefit" isn't perfect, I still think it's an excellent closer; the chorus of the main ballad section is gorgeous, and the end of the ballad section, where Eric stretches his voice as far as it can go, is as cathartic as 10cc ever got (aside from this song's closing guitar solo and "I'm Not in Love"), and the reggae section is lots of fun, maybe even more so than "Dreadlock Holiday". It might be a bit padded, but the good moments take up most of the song anyways.
I agree that the other two are a bit weaker, but "People in Love" has nice, sharp orchestration that actually adds to the song (the live version on "Live and Let Live" loses power because of it) and "Marriage Bureau Rendezvous" has certain pleasant melodic moves, even if it sounds like a slightly dispirited sequel to "I'm Not in Love".
Overall though, I think that Deceptive Bends could easily work as well as the G&C-era numbers (and "Good Morning Judge" and "People in Love" were actually worked on with them before they left). On John's scale, I'd easily give it a B (with a C for How Dare You!, a D for Sheet Music and E's for 10cc and the Original Soundtrack).
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