There are artists in rock music, just as in other creative fields, who give up a lucrative formula to extend the boundaries of their talent. Art being a natural process of evolution, this observation may not seem earthshaking, but popular music often insists on conformity for success.
When Lol Creme and Kevin Godley left 10CC, they left a band that was just beginning to jell. "I'm Not in Love" was a hit and it looked like 10CC was about to become a major force on the pop scene. (Indeed, remaining original members Graham Goulding and Eric Stewart later released "The Things We Do for Love" and 10CC had the biggest record of its career.)
Creme and Godley went into the studio for more than a year, spent more than $150,000 of their own money (not to mention Mercury Records' contribution), and now have come out with "Consequences" (Mercury SRM-3-1700), a triple-record boxed set ostensibly produced to show off the duo's newest invention, the Gizmo.
The Gizmo is a typewriter-like box installed over the strings of a guitar that allows the instrument a much wider range of sounds and sound effects. The project began as a demonstration single, became an album, and then a three-record package complete with scenario. Creme and Godley feel that Gizmo can revolutionize rock'n'roll in the tradition of the wah-wah pedal and fuzz-tone, but for now all we have is "Consequences" - and "Consequences," almost predictably, is overstated.
The major flaw in the albums is so little music for so many records. Albums one features the Gizmo, and it's interesting to hear a guitar sound like the sea, fireworks and a flood; but a full two sides's worth of this gets awfully tiring.
Album two features the best music, though even here the riffs are few and far between. "Five O'Clock in the Morning" is vintage 10CC, and Mel Collins' sax work saves "When Things Go Wrong." There is also a vocal duet featuring Godley and jazz legend Sarah Vaughan on "Lost Weekend," but these three cuts cannot a triple-album carry.
Album three is given over mostly to a comedy dialog, written and performed by famed British satirist Peter Cook (of Beyond the Fringe and "Good Evening"). Two problems here. One, the material is more arch than funny; two, the text (which crops up throughout the entire set) is not pointed enough to substain much interest.
"Consequences" supposedly carries a running theme of man's struggle against the elements of nature, but the material is too dispersed to allow one idea to connect three records and the entire concept seems to collapse from its own inertia.
Creme and Godley are to be commended for even attempting such a heavyweight affair, especially at their own expense. Still, the title of the project stems from a quote by Ingersoll: "In nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments - only consequences."
In this case, the musical "Consequences" amount to little more than a good theory not translating into a viable product.