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Supertramp - Even In The Quietest Moments ... CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.00 | 658 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars It's very easy to forget just how great these guys were as an ensemble but when you really pay attention to their songs you realize how truly intricate and detail-oriented their music was. Without question they produced some of the cleanest-sounding albums of the 70s that continue to hold up incredibly well even by 21st century standards. The top-notch vocals, flawless musicianship and immaculate production all added up to concoct some of the most impressive prog rock to endure from that boundary-expanding decade.

But all of those enviable characteristics wouldn't mean much if they weren't coupled with the necessary skill for writing good tunes and this album opens with a great example of their penchant for that art. "Give A Little Bit" is an exemplary composition in every aspect. Starting with the full strumming of an acoustic 12-string guitar beneath Roger Hodgson's charismatic singing, this innocuous song hit the airwaves at the perfect time with the perfect message of hope and sent this LP soaring into the top 20. Its subtle, infectious energy and superbly-crafted structure ensures that it will still be heard regularly 50 years from now. "Lover Boy" is like many of the tracks on this album in that it begins with piano and lone vocal and builds upward from there. Here the rich orchestral score and the fat electric guitar tone make this cut stand out. It's about a cad whose sole ambition in life is to be some kind of macho chick magnet and I'm wondering if Rick Davies isn't describing the same scoundrel he was to write his memorable "Goodbye Stranger" for on their next release. After a sneaky false ending the band roars back and lays down a driving beat to the fade out.

The hypnotic "Even in the Quietest Moments" is one of the group's most mesmerizing tunes ever. It starts with birds chirping, and then a 12-string guitar plays softly over a droning note and soothing clarinet runs before Roger opens up his troubled heart with lyrics like "even though the sun is shining/well, I feel the rain/here it comes again, dear." Hodgson has a knack for expressing his perceived estrangement from God, but always in a way that the listener can relate to. He seems to be saying "Lord, if I'm so enlightened then why do I still feel empty and sad?" There's not a lot of chord changes involved here, just a steadily increasing intensity of sound that peaks with Bob Benberg's crisp drums falling into step. It's a great track. "Downstream" follows and it's a real surprise because of its sublime simplicity. Rick delivers a basic piano and vocal performance of a tender love song without enlisting any assistance from other members of the group. The shock comes when you realize that you don't miss them at all. The stripped-down production works like a charm and Davies' honest delivery is endearing.

"Babaji" features the trademark Supertramp atmosphere where the dominant bass/guitar riff boldly prowls unimpeded below the chording piano. Here Roger once again expresses his personal longing for spiritual fulfillment as he pleads "is it mine, is it mine, is it mine to know?" and voices his growing disillusionment with life as a rock star with "I can see it's not too good for me/to be afloat in the sea of glory." However well-intentioned, though, the tune never reaches its potential and I think it's mainly due to the fact that John Anthony Helliwell's admirable talents are underused. The track begs for the spark that his wind instruments consistently provide but his allotted solo is far too brief and calculated. The next song, "From Now On," remedies that situation immediately. Written about a fellow who utilizes his vivid daydreams to escape the drudgery of his uneventful life, this cut showcases Supertramp's uncanny gift for creating musical landscapes. After a scintillating sax solo from John they detour into a segment that mimics a soundtrack for some kind of stereotypical 1960's Italian secret agent movie complete with tremolo guitar and accordion. Helliwell's sax returns to dance around Davies' cool voice on the memorable chorus of "Guess I'll always have to be/living in a fantasy/that's the way it's got to be/from now on" as he is joined by a full, glorious chorale that sounds like they came to the studio straight from church service. Quirky, to be sure, but excellent fun nonetheless.

The almost 11-minute "Fool's Overture" is terrific. Once again they start with piano but this time it's accompanied by a synthesizer playing a beautiful melody. What follows is a Pink Floyd-ish collage of noises and voices before a new, bouncy theme emerges. John's saxophone then broadens the sound parameters as Hodgson's expressive voice enters, singing mysterious lines like "called the man a fool, stripped him of his pride/everyone was laughing up until the day he died/and though the wound went deep/still he's calling us out of our sleep/my friends we're not alone/he waits in silence to lead us all home." I'm not at all sure what that means but Roger's vocal range is astounding. Helliwell's sax returns with a sizeable orchestra rearing up behind him as they descend into what seems to be a distant choir singing "Jerusalem" on a windy hilltop. The bouncing melody returns with Hodgson singing in front of a strangely affected chorale before the epic dissolves into the cacophony of a symphony tuning up. It's an interesting journey, no doubt.

While I believe they were still trying to match the excitement and enthusiasm they captured on the phenomenal "Crime of the Century" album from three years earlier, this band continued to put out high quality material with regularity throughout the 70s. They were consummate musical craftsmen possessing an inquisitive sense of adventure. "Even in the Quietest Moments" isn't as consistent as their next release would be, the wildly popular "Breakfast in America," but it still entertains and delights the aural neurons and makes you wish every prog album could sound this good. A very solid 4 stars.

Chicapah | 4/5 |


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