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 Supertramp

British rock band

Studio Albums

Supertramp (1970)

Indelibly Stamped (1971)

Crime of the Century (1974)

Crisis? What Crisis? (1975)

Even in the Quietest Moments (1977)

Breakfast in America (1979)

Famous Last Words (1982)

Brother Where You Bound (1985)

Free As A Bird (1987)

Some Things Never Change (1997)

Slow Motion (2002)

 

Live Albums

 

Paris (1980)

Live '88 (1988)

It Was the Best of Times (1999)

Is Everybody Listening (2001)

 

 

 

Supertramp

Supertramp - 5

Surely/ It's A Long Road/ Aubade-And I Am Not Like Other Birds of Prey/ Words Unspoken/ Maybe I'm A Begger/ Home Again/ Nothing to Show/ Shadow Song/ Try Again/ Surely

When reviewing albums of a particular band/artist I always like to start at the beginning and work forwards in time in an attempt to see how progression came about. This is often a difficult process and Supertramp are a good example of just why. Much of their later material is very well known and so trying to forget what is to come is quite difficult. There is certainly something about this album, although in the main it is probably forgettable as the songwriting skills of Roger Hodgson and Rick Davis are by no means fully formed. In fact it just doesn't sound like a Supertramp album. I have a sneaking regard for "Words Unspoken" but in the main it's almost as if this is an experimental album with plenty of extraneous waffle included as shown in the last three minutes of "Maybe I'm a Begger". Weighing in at over 12 minutes "Try Again" is the first of the bands magnum opus'  This is a strange piece of music, opening with a medieval style meandering which gives way to some almost throaty vocals. Unlike Fools' Overture which was to come later, this lengthy piece is not really together - too many almost experimental passages sewn together to give it almost a jamming sound where those taking part probably enjoyed it more than those of us listening. And in many ways that sums up the whole feel of the album.

 

Indelibly Stamped - 4.5

Your Poppa Don't Mind/ Travelled/ Rosie Had Everything Planned/ Remember/ Forever/ Potter/ Coming Home to See You/ Times Have Changed/ Friend in Need/ Aries

Let's get the obvious out of the way to start with. The cover has to be one of the worst in rock music history. It's of Rusty Skuse whose husband was (surprise surprise) a tattooists. It's point alludes me but it does immediately detract from the album. The first album "Supertramp" was commercially something of a failure and this one trod the same path. It's reasonably easy to see why. There are a few lighter feel numbers here that are quite fun but overall its rather a bland mix of folk and jazz influences overlaying some very average material and still not really hinting at the fully fledged band that would emerge in the shape of the glorious Crime of the Century.

 

Crime of the Century - 8

School/ Bloody Well Right/ Hide in Your Shell/ Asylum/ Dreamer/ Rudy/ If Everyone Was Listening/ Crime of the Century

The essence of a classic rock/pop album is atmosphere. The whole needs certainly to be more than a sum of the parts. The album has to have a wow factor. Often you cannot describe in words just what that wow factor is. Certainly this is the case with Crime of the Century which is a million miles away in feel to the first two albums. Here we have genuinely good songs that merge together to produce a stunningly good album of the mid seventies. Somehow they seem to steal from the times. It was no fluke that many of these songs became part of a staple Supertramp set. You could be forgiven for believing that this was the band's debut album and not their third brought out four years and a few financial worries after their first. It is a richly rounded offering. From the opening wails that start School you know that something special is brewing. No pointless experimentation here - it all feeds in effortlessly to produce some powerful songs with the indelible Supertramp style. School hammers along at some pace, Bloody Well Right is perhaps a little too overblown whereas  Hide in Your Shell is my favourite all time Supertramp songs - a wonderful marrying of music and lyrics. Dreamer is quite rightly one of the band's most popular pieces and the title track

 

Crisis? What Crisis - 6.5

Easy Does It/ Sister Moonshine/ Aint Nobody But Me/ A Soapbox Opera/ Another Woman's Woman/ Lady/ Poor Boy/ Just a Normal Day/ The Meaning/ Two of Us

It was always going to be difficult to follow something as good a Crime of the Century, but Crisis? What Crisis was a pretty good effort with some decent, if not classic, material on it. There's a nice Eastern feel about the opening track and there is a distinctive warmth throughout the album. although at times the material might fall just short of the mark. There is more of a simple feel to this album. Whether that is a good thing or not is open to personal opinion. At times the music does become more middle-of-the-road but at least there is some kind of progression and in "Two of Us" the band put together one of their more enduring songs. Throughout the album there's plenty to interest the discerning listener.

 

Even In The Quietest Moments - 6

Give a Little Bit/ Lover Boy/ Even in the Quietest Moments/ Downstream/ Babaji/ From Now On/ Fools Overture

Take one of the band's greatest prog achievements in the 11 minute Fools Overture and surround it with pretty forgettable songs and you pretty much have Even in the Quietest Moments. The Overture so overshadows everything else on the album that it makes it very difficult to assess. It is a tremendous swirling piece with jazz and classical influences, Nazi war chants, Churchilian speeches, the striking of Big Ben. William Blakes' words to Jerusalem and snatches from Holst's Planets also find their way into this piece of classic Roger Hodgson writing and made the album a worthwhile purchase on its own. Sadly the remainder is rather thin. Give a Little Bit is one of those annoying songs that you end up singing along with but not liking much. From Now On is quite an impressive piece in many ways but ends in an annoying sing-a-long feel. Did you know that for the cover photograph the band actually took a piano up a mountain in Colorado. Seems a little far to go for an album that is rather sparse in highlights.

 

Breakfast in America - 7.5

Gone Hollywood/ The Logical Song/ Goodbye Stranger/ Breakfast in America/ Oh Darling/ Take the Long Way Home/ Lord Is It Mine/ Just Another nervous Wreck/ Casual Conversations/ Child of Vision

Oh for the glorious musical differences. Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies began to fall out (as members of rock bands are wont to do), Apparently Davies didn't like the title song or the name of the album. Thankfully both stayed and Supertramp managed to have four hit singles from this album - The Logical Song, Goodbye Stranger, Breakfast in America and Take the Long Way Home. Most of the material on this album is so well known that it's difficult to comment on the album as a whole. It was certainly more powerful than Even in the Quietest Moments and had a fully fledged Americana feel to it. It became a huge success on both sides of the Atlantic - proving that there is a midway point between American and British musical tastes. "Gone Hollywood" is a difficult song to pin down - at times raucous, at times melodic and the kind of music Scissor Sisters have used to such good effect. Then come the trio of hits. "The Logical Song" is wonderfully original and in the tradition of much of the band's previous output, Goodbye Stranger is a genuine rocker (something that is often overlooked) and Breakfast in America vindicates Hodgson's faith in the track. The album would have been much weaker without it. It has a wonderfully naive lyrics that is so effective. Less effective is Oh Darling but this gives way to my favourite track on the album "Take the Long Way Home" Possibly the remainder of the material isn't as strong but there are good moments on Lord Is It Mine, Casual Conversation is a harsh lyric wrapped in a pretty song and the final track Child of Vision is rather rambling, over long and self indulgent.

 

Famous Last Words - 5.5

Crazy/ Put On Your Old Brown Shoes/ It's Raining Again/ Bonnie/ Know Who You Are/ My Kind of Lady. C'est Le Bon/ Waiting So Long/ Don't Leave Me Now

By now the relationship between Hodgson and Davies was becoming very strained and this would be the last Supertramp album to feature Hodgson. It was always going to be difficult to follow Breakfast in America, but here the band have overthrown any pretensions towards prog rock and tried to become a real pop band. Sadly this at times seriously detracts from the feel of the album and saw them follow up the classic Supertramp sound of "Breakfast" with a series of strictly average songs. "It's Raining Again" provided them with another hit single and I have always liked the bouncy sound of C'est Le Bon. Sadly Famous Last Words is an apt title for a band that seemed at this point to be in decline with little new to offer and it is difficult to see where the unique sound of "Breakfast in America" had gone to them. I wouldn't quite say that they were going through the motions at this point, but some fresh injection was certainly needed.

 

Brother Where You Bound?

Cannonball/ Still in Love/ No In Between/ Better Days/ Brother Where You Bound/ Ever Open Door

Free as a Bird

It's Alright/ Not the Moment/ It Doesn't Matter/ Where I Stand/ Free As A Bird/ I'm Beggin You/ You Never Can Tell With Friends/ Thing For You, An Awful Thing to Waste

Some Things Never Change

It's a Hard World/ You Win, I Lose/ Get Your Act Together/ Live to Love You/ Some Things Never Change/ Listen to Me Please/ Sooner or Later/ Help Me Down That Road/ And the Light/ Give Me a Chance/ C'est What/ Where There's a Will

Slow Motion

Slow Motion/ Little By Little/ Broken Hearted/ Over You/ Tenth Avenue Breakdown/ A Sting in the Tail/ Bee in Your Bonnet/ Goldrush/ Dead Man's Blues