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Roger Hodgson - In the Eye of the Storm CD (album) cover


Roger Hodgson


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3.45 | 104 ratings

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3 stars "In the Eye of the Storm", Roger Hodgson's solo-debut, came out a short time before his former band-mates released "Brother where you bound", it had even been finished quite a while before, and so. sorry that I'm playing the "correcting teacher's role", it was neither an "answer" to Supertramp nor had it to live up to anything else but Roger's own song-writing standard, it has to be seen and judged independently - while Supertramp had, at least, to live up to this one cause it simply was first of the two.

Some of you you may prefer "Brother where you bound". Honestly, I preferred both of the albums to "Famous last words" then, and both were able to please me a lot in spite of some things that could have been better... and I'm not keen to choose between them. In terms of "Prog-Rock" Roger may have brought us the lesser album, right, he didn't have David Gilmour nor an epic as complex as "Brother" on his one, and it was him, singing and performing his songs, in the foreground solely, though the musicians who accompanied him did well... it was really a "Solo-Album" ( other than perhaps "Hai Hai" ) and serves well to show us two things:

1. ) What, in its essence, Roger really contributed to the band he was in before and

2. ) What was missing now, without the other 4.

And Point 1, in my ears, is quite some more essential things than Point 2, so, although "Brother where you bound" had been a great achievement, it was quite a lot of what had made Supertramp the hugely successful band that it was in the 70s that was down to his songs, his playing, his singing, his energy and spirit, only to have said that.

Arranging... well, that's perhaps a field in which he came to over-estimate his role during the years of battle that had begun when Rick Davies no longer kept his word in 1988, and also perhaps one of the things that keep this album from a higher rating than the same 3 stars that I gave to "Brother". The arrangements aren't bad, but they lack a bit of variety, could have used some additional flavour to the many, many things we were familiar with already when this album came out. The production may be a bit "too much 80s" nowadays and have not aged too well on you, but I quite like the overall mood and feel of it, still, and, on the other hand, it's all of those things and more that make "In the Eye of the Storm" so highly regarded as "one of the best Supertramp-Albums" or "the missing piece" ( amongst the devoted ).

It's full of energy and genuine emotion. It's got a lot more driving sparkle than "Famous last Words" had, a freshness that Supertramp had lost and, sorry, not really regained with "Brother", read my review to that one, it explains why "Brother" nonetheless sounded better as well. This another plus-point, the spirit is alive on "In the eye of the Storm". And there's quite some excellent stuff on it, be it pop ( "In Jeopardy" ), be it grand ballad ( "Lovers in the Wind" ), or be it the symphonic climax ( with "Only because of You" ), not forget the strong opener that for once, though based on acoustic guitar, transformed the energy into a rock-song ( I'd like to call it "Pop-Rock with a prog-appeal" ). All in all, it was still a singer/songwriter-biased Pop Album, distinctively more than Supertramps', that was more one of the "Rock"-Vein but... well, you really better read my review to that one cause I'm growing tired of those comparisms now.

I wanna tell you what keeps me from giving it a higher rating although, same as with "Brother" ( SIC ! ), I like it very much and, depending on my personal condition and feel, find it adorable and worth a five-star during the afore mentioned best tracks. Cause what came to make "Hai Hai" such a disappointing, lesser effort in terms of songwriting, it already began here, though this album, still, maintained the feel of being a direct and genuine outing of the artist who hadn't lost control over the project underway. It had, in parts, lost something else - but not because the other guys of Supertramp weren't there to add it, simply because of the things that Roger had been focussed on during parts of the song-writing-process.

Roger didn't have a pattern. He wrote as he felt and went with his feelings while he wrote. And, in some ways, the energy got more important than the melody or the structure of composition ( and, yes, the arrangement ) was. It started out to be about that "feel" I was trying to have you get a grip on in my review to "Hai Hai", cause, at that time, this seemed to be more important ( in terms of creativity and progression ) than doing another "Hide in your Shell" or even "Fool's Overture". Not that Roger didn't care about melodic aspects at all, but with "Lovers in the Wind" and "Only because of you" being ( very, very beautiful and haunting ) exercises into that category, he probably thought they were enough of "slowies in the old vein" and for the rest he simply wanted to capture the feel he felt excited about. This led to "Hooked on a Problem", "Give me love, give me Life" and "I'm not afraid" to be rather simple but lively knocked out expressions of the state he was in, and, because the emotion was in there, he didn't really work them out to be good songs. Some people even think of "In Jeopardy" as a weaker one, but I don't think so if seen as a pop-song. What this pop-song has in common with the others that I can't rate that high... is the repetitive chant with the same feel as an expression, but this one had been worked out great. The others sound not only unfinished, today they even may sound uninspired, although they surely weren't. It was only... Roger did not develop their melodies and chord-structures any further soon as he "felt" them to be right.

Sign of the times, this is what I say. Given that with "Had a Dream" - although I always think this one could have used a bit more arranging as well - the album starts out great ( and with far more interesting chord-progressions than - I start hating myself, another comparism - "Cannonball" that made up for this with the arrangement ! ) and keeps the good vibe until it ends on a high note again, for the 80s, anyone could have been proud of it, and, in retrospect, Roger can still be.

It's genuinely him. Tragically he got off track afterwards, having quite some hard times to overcome until he reappeared into the limelight again many years later... spirited and alive, and, this has to be said, especially on stage, beating out whatever we could get from "Supertramp" without playing a single song from Rick, but playing one song of the Beatles that I had never heard as beautiful as this: "Across the Universe".

"In the Eye of the Storm" can sometimes make you feel as if you're flying across the universe as well. 4 stars for his fans, 3 stars for this site.

rupert | 3/5 |


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