Category: Supertramp

Supertramp – Retrospectacle: An Anthology

ARTIST: Supertramp 220px-Supertramp_-_Retrospectacle

TITLE: Retrospectacle – The Supertramp Anthology

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION:  #9 UK

SINGLES: Charting: Dreamer (#13 UK), Bloody Well Right (#35 US), Give a Little Bit (#15 US, #29 UK), The Logical Song (#6 US, #7 UK), Breakfast in America (#62 US, #9 UK), Goodbye Stranger (#15 US, #57 UK), Take the Long Way Home (#10 US), It’s Raining Again (#11 US, #26 UK), My Kind of Lady (#31 US), Cannonball (#28 US), Free As a Bird (#95 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Crime of the Century, Gone Hollywood

LINEUP: Rick Davies, Roger Hodgson, John Anthony Helliwell, Dougie Thompson, Bob Siebenberg were the main quintet. Early band members were Richard Palmer, Robert Millar, Kevin Currie, Davie Winthrop, and Frank Farrell. When Hodgson left, they added session players until their 1997 album. Thompson had left by then. Mark Hart, Cliff Hugo, Tom Walsh, Jessie Siebenberg, and Lee Thornburg were official members then.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Good size retrospective of long time prog rock band that became quite popular in the late 70s and early 80s.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Before 1974, Supertramp were a footnote, noted only because a Dutch tycoon backed them. After 1979, they were prime examples of the merging of prog and mainstream rock. This compilation focuses a lot from 1974 through 1997, though it does give you a taste of their early days.

Supertramp were of two minds it seems, proggy songs that rambled on, and hooky rock songs that had prog elements. They also had two songwriters and singers who brought different perspectives and ideas to the band, which helped round out the band, but also led to its ultimate demise.

I reviewed their two best albums, and plenty of cuts here are on those. The other cuts are from their lesser works, where they were struggling to repeat success (or gain success), and post-blockbuster where the band was (and did) splinter apart. Later on, they released two albums before calling their recording career quits, though the fire was out by then.

Some tracks here are better off here without lesser tracks clogging them, but tracks from Crime of the Century and Breakfast in America are best served there. And some tracks will appeal only to true fans here anyway, and the live cuts don’t add much to the program. It’s their best comp, though, so if you’re curious, spin it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They’re still an ongoing concern, but Davies had health problems that forced them to cancel a 2015 tour.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE B: When they were great, they were great. When they weren’t, you can definitely tell the difference here.

Supertramp – Breakfast in America

ARTIST: Supertramp 220px-Supertramp_-_Breakfast_in_America

TITLE: Breakfast in America

YEAR RELEASED: 1979

CHART ACTION:  #1 US, #3 UK

SINGLES: The Logical Song (#6 US, #7 UK), Breakfast in America (#62 US, #9 UK), Goodbye Stranger (#15 US, #57 UK), Take the Long Way Home (#10 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Gone Hollywood

LINEUP: Rick Davies, Roger Hodgson, John Anthony Helliwell, Dougie Thompson, Bob Siebenberg

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After two sub-par albums following their breakthrough (to be covered in the compilation I will cover), Supertramp hit it out of the proverbial park.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Since their breakout in 1974, Supertramp had released two albums that didn’t light the world on fire, critically or commercially. While it wasn’t desperation as it was for Crime of the Century, it was possible that they were going to fade away if they didn’t release another successful record.

Well, consider this a success.

With four singles that are still played on rock stations, and well known by most everyone over 40 (maybe 30?), and deep cuts that are memorable without being ponderous or pretentious (for the most part), Breakfast in America is the album they needed, and probably their all-time legacy in music history.

Three of the four hits were anchored by Roger Hodgson’s falsetto voice, but the instrument that comes to fore is the electric piano of Rick Davies. The two also collaborate on vocals more (even though every song is credited to one or the other solely), making it seem like a true band effort. The rest of the group also add color and chops to the proceeding.

They didn’t throw away their prog tendencies (which does make some cuts linger a bit too long), and after their last two albums this was a welcome comeback to form where hooks and chops co-mingled.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Originally, the record was conceived as a discussion between Hodgson and Davies, but that was scrapped very early on.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with a live set.

GRADE A: It’s really an enduring album with just a few tracks that seem to linger a bit long, but it wouldn’t be proggy if it didn’t have those, would it?

Supertramp – Crime of the Century

ARTIST: Supertramp  220px-Supertramp_-_Crime_of_the_Century

TITLE: Crime of the Century

YEAR RELEASED: 1974

CHART ACTION:  #38 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: Dreamer (#13 UK), Bloody Well Right (#35 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Crime of the Century

LINEUP: Rick Davies, Roger Hodgson, John Anthony Helliwell, Dougie Thompson, Bob Siebenberg

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Struggling prog band finds some pop chops, and a little humor, and gets a hit record that sustains a long career.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Listening to the dribs and drabs of their first two albums (on comps), Supertramp had talent. Leaders Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson had their musical ideas (always different) but in reality the band wasn’t that much different than in their hit making phase.

This one, coming out in 1974, was basically their last chance. It was their last chance for good, as their original financial backer pulled out and A&M were going to lose patience if this one stiffed. Davies and Hodgson replaced the rest of the band, improved their songwriting, and threw in some humor and hooks along with their progressive and arty pieces. There wasn’t a lot of noodling – at least not as much as before.

Some songs do linger a bit too long, but a better and more sympathetic band helped out the songwriters. This record really introduced Supertramp to the world, and over the next decade (give or take) they were one of the bastions of popular progressive rock.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The first two records aren’t streaming, and really are for uber-completists only.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with a live set.

GRADE B: The deep cuts kind of ramble along, but the well-known songs are the ones that helped their career take a leap.