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Supertramp - Crime Of The Century CD (album) cover

CRIME OF THE CENTURY

Supertramp

 

Crossover Prog

4.34 | 1092 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Being my first prog/art-rock love, Supertramp has always preserved a special place in my melomaniac heart through all these years up until now. No wonder why their third effort "Crime of the Century", generally regarded as their finest hour, still sounds so great to me even in the new millennium. But my consideration for this album is not only from an emotional perspective, but also for a rational standpoint. This band really knew how to call for the listener's mind with their stylish well-constructed songs and the listener's heart with their candid, soulful musical invocations, and this dual quality finds in this album its ultimate expression. All the way from the opening harmonica lines of 'School' toward the fade-out of the somber yet majestic closer namesake track (which, by teh way, also includes a reprise of the harmonica lines), Supertramp leads the listener through a journey of beauty and emotion. Unlike the two posterior albums, this one keeps a very interesting and subtly disturbing depressive aura to it, and at the same time, it also bears a very majestic vibe, due to the moderately recurrent use of orchestral background and the predominance of keyboard input in the repertoire (at the time, Hodgson seemed really very enthusiastic about his new piano skills, so his guitarists' role was relatively subdued here). This album is so full of classics, consistent live staples until Hodgson left the band - the opener 'School' is one of them, providing a criticism of the schooling system within the grander scheme of modern society's rules. All three newcomers show their valuable input right away: Siebenberg displays his solid drumming and effective ornaments on various percussions, Thomson complements Siebenberg's work perfectly, and last but not least, Helliwell appropriates the song every time he does a sax or clarinet solo. His stage presence is nothing but an extension of his powerful instrumental skills. But perhaps this song's most famous solo is that on piano by Davies, adding a nice touch of subtle Latin-jazz flavors to the mid section. 'Bloody Well Right' displays a cynical second look at the schooling thing in a very Davies-esque manner: the sax solo at the end is awesome, elegant, constrained yet colorful. 'Hide in Your Shell' is one of the album's highlights, one of the most explicitely emotional compositions by Hodgson: a very haunting hymn to intelligent friendship, so candid, even naive to a certain degree, yet moving in a unique way like only a friend's love can move you. No friendship but lonelinss is what the old man protrayed in 'Asylum' has to endure: Davies finds a large room for his dark vision about humankind in this subject. The string arrangements help the song to get increasingly tight as it progresses. 'Dreamer' is the album's funny commercial tune, and let me tell you that it is less optimistic than it appears to be: a hit, and deservedly so. The last three songs epitomize so well the album's general dark mood that they might as well be considered as real samples. 'Rudy' is not related to funny moods, but to the troubles of the inner self in reclusion. This track is ambitious, majestic, solid across its mood and motif shifts, with a very passionate rocking climax and a most vulnerable second climax: arguably the best Davies composition ever. One of the least known Hodgson compositions, 'If Everyone was Listening' deserves more recognition among prog rock and Supertramp fans: one of the saddest songs ever written by Hodgson, it portrays a feeling of confusion and desolation with distinction and genuine emotion. The namesake closer is another gigantic Davies number, a mysterious, concise tale about the universal evil of man: Davies delivers his lines with a mixture of fear and seriousness, and later on, the piano recurrent motif displays a basis for the other instruments and the string section. The sax solo is haunting, like a psalm read in memory of the human race. "Crime of the Century" is an album in which musical intelligence and emotion are combined in a perfect marriage: not the only Supertramp good work, but definitely, their finest hour.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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