Look Hear? - unsuccessful album from 1980 and why it didn't sell

By: Peter Meyer @

The writer of these lines belongs to the minority who, after splitting 10 cc, could do much more with Stewart / Gouldman's music than with the publications of the more progressive half. After a conscientious examination and numerous runs, this is still the case today. "Look Hear" - formerly known as "Are You Normal" - is one of the most underrated pop rock albums of the early 80s. The record was released in March 1980 when the popularity of 10cc began to decline, but not yet the creativity of the two remaining founding members. For the re-release (2008) to be acquired today, the recordings have been carefully remastered. While Stewart / Gouldman recorded "Deceptive Bends" single-handed in 1977, this production included Duncan Mackay (including Camel, Alan Parsons, Kate Bush) and Rick Fenn (Mike Oldfield, Rick Wakeman), who also contributed a few songs, with the party.

"How Dare You", the band's last production as a quartet, suffers from a lack of direction that others may find interesting. The successor, the commercially very successful "Deceptive Bends" by Stewart / Gouldman, contains the two well-known songs Good Morning Judge and The Things We Do For Love , for which many pounced on this album at the time. "Bloody Tourists", which as a total work of art was not so convincing, comes up with the number one hit Dreadlock Holiday . Donald A. Guarisco from Allmusic said "diehard fans could be happy that the occasional listener should better buy a greatest hits album". This should essentially also apply to "Deceptive Bends". The single releases of "Look Hear" ( One Two Five, It Doesn't Matter at All ) did not make it onto the Greatest Hits album, they sold under value.

"Look Hear" is, compared to the two predecessors, a much more rounded style; with appealing compositions that remain exciting over the entire duration due to convincing melodies, unexpected key changes and solo interludes in the middle sections. Admittedly, one or the other song scrapes close to the kitsch limit ( I Took You Home, It Doesn't Matter at All ), but that is of course no different with the competition cited (the pop lover likes kitsch anyway, like the retroprog fan on bombast).

The superbly instrumented and arranged high-class art-pop / rock demonstrates clever handling of studio tricks (who likes it: soundtrack on soundtrack) and pop history to the usual satirical texts. Here you can hear the legendary Yamaha flagship CS 80 with typical sounds.

Compared to “Deceptive Bends” and “Bloody Tourists”, the songs seem less simple, so there are no embarrassments like Squeeze Me Like Toothpaste (although the idea on the other hand is quite amusing).
The problem with this “forgotten album”, it is seen from a distance, was the lack of single hits. The sound quality is still pretty good by today's standards, which should not least be due to the remastering carried out in 2008. "Look Hear" has everything that had honored 10 cc up to that point - except for the Godley & Creme team.

As AllMusic once said:

With 10cc's last album, Bloody Tourists, having spun off the monster hit "Dreadlock Holiday," it would be a very brave person indeed who could argue that the most consistently inventive band of the previous eight years had finally run out of steam. But there were clues; no follow-up hits on the last album, a certain lack of pizzazz on their most recent tours, and an incapacitating car accident that kept Eric Stewart immobile for almost nine months. Put all that together and, when Look Hear? did finally materialize, the surprise might have been that it was as good as it was. Which, to be honest, wasn't much. It was old news now that the departures of Godley and Creme had robbed the band of the left-field experimentation that made the earlier records such classics; this was the surviving duo's third album since then. But the enthusiasm, too, had gone. Songs on Look Hear? either struggled half-heartedly to amuse (the disco semi-parody "One Two Five," the odd "I Hate to Eat Alone"), or else they didn't do much of anything, beyond nailing a pleasant melody to some gentle words dripped slowly onto the rug. You listened and half of it went in one ear and out the other, and that is still the problem today. It's "OK." It's "not bad." It's "a bit bland." It's "ho hum." Two bonus tracks on the 7-Ts reissue include the single edit of "One Two Five" and its B-side, "Only Child." Neither adds nor subtracts anything from the main attraction, apart from further beautifying what is, surprisingly, the album's first domestic CD release.