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Supertramp - Crime Of The Century CD (album) cover

CRIME OF THE CENTURY

Supertramp

 

Crossover Prog

4.31 | 1457 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Supertramp is a band I've known about since I first became interested in pop music. I can recall visiting a friend's house while still in elementary school and he let me listen to Black Sabbath's "Iron Man". I saw the album cover for "Crime of the Century" and never forgot it. Supertramp, however, were not my taste in music. I remember hearing songs like "It's Raining Again" (catchy chorus but nerve grating vocals), "The Logical Song" (pretty good actually), "Bloody Well Right" (kind of good), "Give a Little Bit" (kind of catchy), and "Dreamer". That last song there was the reason why I never got into Supertramp. To me it was one of three most annoying songs on classic rock radio, along with War's "The low. Ry. Duh. Is a little lower" (like who the fudge cares?!) and that song that went, "Blinded by the light / Wrappped up like a douche / Another runner in the night". What were these people thinking to write such tripe like that?

Strangely enough, I always associated Supertramp with Pink Floyd in my late elementary school days. Perhaps it was because "Money" and "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" and "Bloody Well Right" and "The Logical Song" seemed to have been concocted by the same cultural views of the same culture. The big difference was that by the time I was 16, I loved Pink Floyd but still wouldn't go near Supertramp. It would not be until 2016, when I had reached the ripe old age of 45, that I would finally permit a Supertramp album into my music library (three albums in fact as I ordered two more soon after). The change came after I went through a period of fascination with French Canadian 70's prog and I read that many English prog bands had achieved their first success in North America in Quebec. Bands like Genesis, Camel, Gentle Giant, Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Supertramp were popular among the Quebecois. I had albums by all except for Supertramp and so I decided to give the band a try.

"Crime of the Century" is the highest rated Supertramp album on PA and so I figured that was the best place to start, though I was soon dismayed to discover that the dreadful song "Dreamer" was on this album. The order arrived and I brought the disc home, plugging it into my iTunes library and dumping it onto my phone. Thus the journey began.

I was surprised to recognize the first track "School". I had heard it before and perhaps it is the laughing, playing children that reminded me of "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2". That and the theme of the English school system. The song certainly goes beyond the standard pop song, sometimes sparse and atmospheric, sometimes building towards a jaunty pop segment but then dropping abruptly into sparsity and quietude again. It's very well arranged and from this it's already easy to understand why Supertramp would be considered progressive.

"Bloody Well Right" turned out to be my favourite and that darn chorus jammed itself into my brain for days. The song is the only one to feature a hard rock guitar sound and that's probably why I can take to this song so easily.

"Hide in Your Shell" begins so candy pretty like that I get turned off right away each time it begins. But it does pick up and become more interesting as the music develops. My least favourite song on the album but still not a total write off. I much prefer "Asylum" which, like "School" reverts to quiet piano whenever the music builds to a climax. Richard Davies insane howls and hollers at the end fit right in with the music.

I'll have to admit that listening to "Dreamer" on the album is not so bad and in fact the song goes through some twists and changes so that the annoying "Dreamer / Your nothing but a dreamer" is actually a small part of the song. The middle part where Richard Davies sings is much more enjoyable and more in tune with what Supertramp seemed to be trying to do with their music at the time. There's also a lot of subtle instrumentation I can hear on the CD that I missed by walking away from the radio every time the song came on at work back in the 90's.

A word of mention should go towards "Rudy", which starts off pretty quietly but builds again in a beautiful fashion and really hooks me when the 70's strings come in in the last 3 minutes or so. When Davies and Hodgeson trade vocal lines the song really reaches its apex.

The album overall intrigues. It's not highly technical prog nor is it really very rock-like except for that guitar in "Bloody Well Right". There's a lot of piano and organ and not much guitar. The drums and bass also are pretty standard for the day and neither would make it to a list of top ten for the instruments. But the song-writing, and the musical construct shows great creativity and attention to detail. Supertramp show that they can alternate between the loud and the soft within a single song. The whole band can come in to hit a single note and then drop out, leaving just the piano or organ. There are rises and swells, peaks, and sudden punctuations of silence. The songs are not entirely predictable and tease by going toward straightforward pop but only briefly. It's an album for those who can appreciate very fine song writing and crafty music that doesn't aim to be loud and technical but rather cleverly creative and full of poignancy and emotion.

The eight songs on the album alternate between Roger Hodgeson's and Richard Davies' lead vocals. I personally enjoy Richard Davies songs more but not so much more. I just prefer the timbre of his voice more over Hodgeson's. The piano parts are often skillfully composed and sometimes a stand out feature in a song, like the closing of the title track.

I will admit that because the music doesn't rock out except for on "Bloody Well Right", Supertramp don't appeal to me as much as the other bands mentioned above. However, that doesn't stop me from appreciating the artistic merit and musical talents on this album. I'll give it a solid four stars, hesitating with that one extra star.

FragileKings | 4/5 |

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