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Supertramp - Free As A Bird CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

1.87 | 212 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
1 stars Well I can’t say this album was much of a surprise. Roger Hodgson’s departure after ‘…famous last words…’ spelled impending disaster for the remaining members. That was also the first album where Hodgson and Rick Davies did not share songwriting credits, and the Davies tracks were clearly the more bland pop ones, including a couple that featured the completely charming (but not even remotely prog) Wilson sisters of Heart.

So the truth was either that Davies couldn’t write an emotional and substantive song to save his life, or that he and Hodgson were pretty much worthless as solo songwriters. Probably a little of both, because Hodgson wasn’t faring much better in his solo career.

Either way, these compositions are simply bland, boring, and lacking of any kind of emotional spark. There are several spots on the album where I could swear Rick Davies is actually Daryl Hall, and overall the sound is closer to Huey Lewis & the News then it is to anything the band had done with Hodgson. With ‘Brother Where You Bound’ the band at least managed to hide their gaping wounds and lack of depth by employing several studio tricks and key guest musicians, but here it’s only the four of them and a little bit of brass and vocals backing.

The first four tracks are nearly indistinguishable with their plain dance beat, tepid arrangements, and brass added simply to fill space rather than accent the keyboards like the band’s older compositions did. “Not the Moment” in particular is one of the most listless songs I’ve ever heard this band record.

On “Free as a Bird” Davies manages to at least come close to some semblance of meaningful lyrics, but even here he’s not convincing and the music is lethargic. No wonder the band barely made it through the supporting tour before breaking up for the next decade.

“I’m Begging You” garnered the band a hit, but unfortunately it was in dance/club category. This one kind of sounds like Harry Nilsson fronting Lionel Ritchie’s studio band. Ugh!

The plodding “You Never Can Tell With Friends” is meaningless, and “Thing for You” is one of the most obvious filler tracks ever recorded. Finally the album winds to a close with “An Awful Thing to Waste”, which aptly describes the potential of these musicians. Sad, sad, sad.

Supertramp had clearly hit rock-bottom with this album, and at least they had the decency and integrity to stay away from the studio for the next ten years. You can’t redo the past, but it sure would have been interesting to see what Hodgson and Davies could have managed to come up with had they not been yet another casualty of the eighties. This album is only of interest to completionists, and more than likely not even them. I’ve been playing this thing the past few days for the first time in years to try and find something redeeming in it, but it’s no use. One star.


ClemofNazareth | 1/5 |


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