Live in Japan

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10cc's early-'90s re-formation, although it did spawn a new studio album (and an even briefer reunion for the original four-piece lineup), was more firmly built around what has also become known as the Classic Hits tour, a Japanese outing that saw surviving founders Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman transform one of the most vibrantly original bands of the '70s into nothing more than a cynical jukebox. It's cabaret-a-go-go, from the soul-less renditions of the band's own biggest hits, through to the handful of totally unnecessary Beatles covers ("Across the Universe," "Paperback Writer," "Slow Down") that line up alongside the expected oldies like "The Things We Do for Love," "Art for Art's Sake," "I'm Mandy, Fly Me." But it's not the repertoire that rankles so much as the sheer lack of enthusiasm that hallmarks the performance. The band isn't even on autopilot here; they're scarcely going through the motions and, if the hits sound lackluster, three numbers drawn from the then-recently released ...Meanwhile are even weaker.

Occasional moments shine. Stewart's guitar showcase "Feel the Benefit" at least reminds us that its maker was once rightly regarded among his instrument's most reliable showmen, and the so-called "Bullets Medley" proves that the band could rock when it wanted to. But that's all it is. Occasional moments. For longtime fans, this album's a raging disappointment, for the casually curious, it's a waste of time. Forget it.

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