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Supertramp - Paris CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.66 | 211 ratings

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4 stars "You go to heaven...what you're going to do ? You gonna sit around a cloud and say... "hey, what a lovely view" ???" ( "You started Laughing", only non-album track on "Paris", words by Rick Davies )

Well, the answer for Supertramp themselves, who were up there by the time that "Paris" was recorded, could have been: "No. I've got to live with the music critics who always find something to complain about and obviously do not want me to stay up here" !

By the time they conquered the world with the Album and Tour to "Breakfast in America" the critics ( who, in Germany at least, had given praises to the album ) tended to write them down. They accused the band for a "lack of spontaneity, only trying to reproduce their studio-work in perfection" and therefore sacrificing the spark of the music itself in concert. It seemed to be no good idea then that, in order to stay present on the market whilst taking a well deserved ( and needed ) break after the exhausting schedule of work they had underwent, the band came up with a live-album next. It had been Rick Davies' idea - not the record company's, as you may have thought when "Paris" had been released to promise another "big time" in the advertising campaigns of A&M... you know ( if you have read my previous reviews to certain Live-Albums ), all those ones who have been made to not keep that promise at all come to mind immediately. And even if you were a fan ( such as me ) you couldn't help but wonder if it was wise for a band like Supertramp, who, in the studio, seemed to have delivered their best already... and, if you had all those albums from "Crime of the Century" straight to "Breakfast", if you really needed to buy "Paris" only because of "You started laughing" !

Was it just another "double with applause additions", a "Greatest Hits in disguise", a clever cash in that, in terms of art and music, was doomed to be inferior and superfluous ? One can only guess how many aspects of the "hard work", that - Davies pointed this out in the booklet to "Retrospectacle" - "Paris needed" in order to be completed, really went into the blessings of "post-production", so it even appears to be an album under heavy suspicion of being a "falsified live concert" for monetary reasons, not capturing the spirit of the moment at all, only giving us an illusion. It may be so, but only the artists and their co-producer know.

What we, the fans, know since many, many years is: "Paris" was not only a clever plan being materialised as an album, no, it remains an irreplaceable pinnacle of our record-collection that all of us can only be thankful for ( and happy with ). Cause the accusations of those critics proved to be of no avail, they weren't fair at all only because the band had stayed faithful to the original ( and unbeatable ) arrangements of their songs. To this day, every listen to "Paris" is a huge pleasure revealing that the band sounded alive and inspired, no less than giving their all into their performances, and even if it was an overdubbed affair, it couldn't have been done with more care and sensitivity so that the overall feel of a gorgeous live-event could be preserved.

And a "Greatest Hits Live" ( though having been advertised as such ) it ain't, either, with the omissions of "Give a little bit", "Goodbye Stranger","Even in the quietest moments" and "Lady". If you want all those ( and any more to come afterwards ) compiled together in perfect assemblage, then, dear radio-listener & record-buyer, go buy "Retrospectacle" and be happy once and for all. No, "Paris" seems to have been compiled for the devoted fan as well as everybody to become one and, if you in any way treasure that band as a part of the genre, the "prog-lover" ! A feast including 7 of the eight "Crime of the Century"-classics as well as the magnificent "Soapbox Opera" and, lord, "Fool's Overture" in full length and glory... could anyone ask for more ?

From the start with "School" to the final echoes of it with the Harmonica reappearing at the end of "Crime", Supertramp make sure that Paris, the "city of love", is theirs as are our hearts and ears. In the meantime we became witnesses that their well known and -loved songs could not only be equalled on stage, no, they could even be bettered, as "Hide in your Shell", "Ain't nobody but me", and, in particular, "From now on" and "A Soapbox Opera" - as my personal highlights of them all - so eloquently demonstrate.

The rockier pieces seemed to be made for stage-performances anyway, be it "Bloody well right" or "Rudy", all benefiting from the atmosphere even if slightly hastened at times, no problem at all, this is live. To hear Rick Davies fall short of memorising the words in "Asylum", so that the verses aren't really complete, is, after all these years, a charming pleaser rather than a miss... that's what can happen when it's live, the man was nervous, he's a human being ! Being an album as perfect as can be, "Paris" is not so perfect at all, and that's what's finally making it a perfect one.

No need to say any more about "Fool's Overture" in its definite rendition, I think. You're completely lost in awe by then, as "Two of us", not in full length but with more directness and devotion, serves as an intro to "Crime of the Century". For one more ( and the last time on this album ) this quintessential look at the claim and failure of man in singular as well as mankind in general "grasping for the wind", in all its musical daringness and disturbing gloom, becomes a showcase for the unbelievable. It's been improved. Can this be ? Yes it can, no matter how much you thought of the Album-Version as simply unbeatable. It's better because of the feel and devotion that this underrated band was able to put into their live-performances. It's leaving me speechless in the end, with stirring eyes and mouth wide open, after all these years. Haunting, uncanny, having imprinted the message of those few but essential words that never ever seem to lose their validity into one's soul: "Who are these men of lust, greed and glory ? Rip off the masks and let's see. But... that's not right ! Oh no... what's the story ? Look... there's you and there's me !" Accusation and confession at once, this one is ought to remind any of us and all the generations to come that, whatever happens, WE ARE RESPONSIBLE !

"Paris", there can be no doubt, is one of the seldom cases to keep the promise of delivering a "big time" and, capturing this band at both, the height of their success as well as their power and creativity, it's a testament of the sheer brilliance and potency that the classic line up of Supertramp was made of. Even if it's an illusion and not 100% "Live" ( for sure they had to rely on tape-interspersions in order to supply the snippets of choir to "A Soapbox Opera" and the obligated voice of Winston Churchill following the clinging of Big Ben during "Fool's Overture" ) it's the definite Live-Album for this band and highly recommended to every prog-lover, offering the cream of "Supertramp-prog" amongst some of their most memorable Hit-songs.

A personal 5-star anyway, the only thing that leads to the omission of one star for the final rating here is: You still have to be a fan of this band, or else this big cake can simply be too much of everything for you. They clearly aimed and succeeded at giving their all. It was the best of times.

To give a personal answer to the question that started this review ( I may be one of a few people to count in "You started Laughing" to the very best of this band ! ): Well... I may be in heaven already when I listen to this album. I'd just close my eyes. And if I open them up again and find myself sitting on a cloud, well, as long as I can still listen to "Paris" there'd be not much better things to do. Heaven is supposed to allow me to or else it isn't really heaven. I gladly appreciate lovely views from up there but I'd like to have a good pair of headphones on and my favourite albums ready and, be sure, Paris is amongst them, sharing the top-spot with some others including most of what this line-up of Supertramp have recorded in the studio as well. Thank you.


rupert | 4/5 |


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