- Rich, full and balanced with plenty of deep bass and Arty Rock energy, this is a Truly Amazing Demo Disc
- Bassist Graham Gouldman calls it “the definitive 10cc album” and he’s probably right about that (although we love The Original Soundtrack that came out a year later)
- “Three hit singles spun off the record, and most of the other tracks could have followed suit; it says much for Sheet Music’s staying power that, no matter how many times the album is reissued, it has never lost its power to delight, excite, and set alight a lousy day.”
Sheet Music is in our opinion the most consistently well written and produced 10cc album, with every track performed with heart and recorded with exquisite attention to detail. Each song flows into the next and there is simply not a dull moment to be found. Sheet Music is arguably the best record they ever made, although I’m such a fan, I think they’re all great. (The first five albums anyway.)
What the Best Sides of Sheet Music Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1974
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Eric Stewart, Studio Wizard
Those of you who have gotten a kick out of our Deceptive Bends or The Original Soundtrack albums are obviously going to find a lot to like here. If you are not familiar with this recording, you will find few rock records as dynamic, immediate, punchy and as full of ambience and openness as this. Eric Stewart was and is a studio wizard and he worked his magic big time on this album.
This is the kind of recording where the sound really JUMPS out of the speakers. It reminds me of Crime Of The Century that way. It’s also one of the most DYNAMIC popular recordings I know of. If this album doesn’t wake up your system, it’s time to scrap it and get a new one.
One of the many elements that combine to push this album well beyond the bounds of most popular recordings is the thought and care that went into the soundstaging. Listen to the stereo separation on any track — the sound of each instrument has been carefully considered within the context of the arrangement and placed in a specific location within the sound field for a reason, usually for MAXIMUM EFFECT.
That’s why we LOVE 10cc. Their recordings from this era are an audiophile dream come true. Compare that to some of the stereo mixes for the Beatles albums, where an instrument or vocal seems to panned to one channel or another not because it SHOULD be, but because it COULD be. With 10cc those hard-left, hard-right effects make the songs JUMP. They call attention to themselves precisely because the band is having a blast in the studio, showing off all the tricks they have up their sleeves. They want you to get as big a kick out of hearing them as they did conjuring them up.
This is no recreation of a live musical event, nor is it trying to be one. It’s a foursome of pop lunatics let loose in their own multi-track studio doing whatever the hell they damn well please with songs they wrote and on which they play all the instruments. That’s why this recording has such energy — it’s four guys in their very own candy store havin’ a ball, with no one around to tell them they can’t.
What We’re Listening For on Sheet Music
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
The Wall Street Shuffle
The Worst Band In The World
Old Wild Men
Somewhere In Hollywood
Three hit singles spun off the record, and most of the other tracks could have followed suit; it says much for Sheet Music’s staying power that, no matter how many times the album is reissued, it has never lost its power to delight, excite, and set alight a lousy day.
Charley Walters in his 1974 Rolling Stone review felt that the band had “concocted standard pop into their own inventive, even sophisticated, art”, and that while not typical pop music it would be popular with AM-oriented DJs and their listeners. Billboard felt the band had a “certain zany feeling”, but that “their songs are far from silly when carefully listened to” and they had “some of the most innovative vocal techniques and instrumental arrangements around”.
Dave Thompson in a summary of the album for Allmusic felt that it had staying power and that it was “perhaps the most widely adventurous album of what would become a wildly adventurous year”. George Durbalau in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die felt it was “a piece of well-crafted, highly idiosyncratic pop” and was “in a word, inventive”.