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Roger Hodgson - Hai Hai CD (album) cover


Roger Hodgson


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1.89 | 67 ratings

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2 stars You have questions about this album because you're disappointed ? Let me try to give you an answer...

First thing - it was the 80s, dear friends. And as the 80s came closer to the 90s, a lot of the "spirit" of the old days that had made musicians like Roger ( by then, as a very important member of Supertramp, of course ) become major artists for many of us, was no longer alive. Some say it was due to the artists that, for commercial reasons, had turned away from significant qualities, as f.e. so many of us blame Phil Collins to have led Genesis into an embarrassing demise that sounded like a betrayal of almost anything the band was loved and admired for until Peter Gabriel and, even more obvious to me, Steve Hackett left the band. It's all too easy ( and, perhaps, a bit unfair ) to judge things this way, I must say here. Every creative man does rely on inspiration, and therefore HAS to remain open for the feel of the times and the people around him, else he was bound to make his output his headstone instead of a sign of LIFE.

The 80s, in many ways, tended to present a more superficial feel to most of us. And we had to move on - and this is what Roger ( and Phil especially WITH Genesis, cause it wasn't only him, once and for all ! ) did here. Most of the music was based on achieving certain emotional effects rather than the good old values of composing and writing. Do not mistake this for a mere sell-out, who ever is writing songs can tell you that their output can not be any more than their personal feelings - being influenced ( INSPIRED ! ) by whatever is around them and, by the time, is leaving an impression - allow it to be. And I remember well that there was a special feel at the time that many of us did share, this resulting in attempts to capture and share it in terms of energy that was determined to be felt when we started performing. The "mistake" was simply that we then perhaps neglected ( and sacrificed ) too much of what was special and valuable at long term for the "kick of the moment". It was a time in which, think of the Punk-Movement, we tended to break down certain values in order to build something new, we did not see a point in just building up and up on what we already had achieved cause we felt the need to sound more fresh and alive. Again, you may say, this was only meant to jump on a bandwagon and "stay up to date" in order to sell, but this is simply not true. I have felt that PUNK had an important message at its time, and I'm sure that Roger - as well as many other musicians - felt the same, though none of us wanted to become untrue to our framework. The message was: "Hey you there ! It's a bore, can't you see it ? You're stuck in sheer self-indulgence by presenting your abilities to play and doing the things you've grown comfortable with over and over again, but there's a lack of spark and it became a tedious affair. Get up from your ass... this is music and music ought to sound alive and fresh, you've lost the connection to what is more important than all your technical abilities !"

Listen to "Famous last Words". No matter how much you may like it, and no matter how good it is - in retrospect, especially - all those accusations weren't that far from the truth. In 1979, somehow being sheltered from whatever had happened in the UK, Supertramp sounded alive and fresh even on an album as polished as "Breakfast" is. By 1983, the concept was a little worn, and "Famous last Words", in spite of all its qualities, sounded tired and a step backwards - or even more. I'm sure that Roger felt the same about it. I'm sure his quest that led to his departure from Supertramp was a quest for new excitement, he wanted to feel and deliver the spark again that he saw more evident in "Crisis" ( and "Even in the quietest Moments", still, I think ) than on "Breakfast" and its successor, cause the making of those had more of a direct approach and therefore felt better ( although they weren't necessarily better ). He could not see how to move on in that framework, he wanted to regain that spark and even get a grip on something new... and, as I said in my review to Supertramp's "Slow Motion", Rick Davies is a conservative man.

This means nothing less than "Hai Hai" ( as well as "Abacab" has to be seen for Genesis ) was a sign of the artist's serious willingness for progression and not stagnation or regression !

The biggest problem with this album ( apart from this and other than Abacap ) is... the artist did not exactly know ( figure out ) where he wanted to go yet, and instead of giving him the time and faith to do right by himself and develop the product to his full satisfaction, the record company ( A & M's Jerry Moss, in particular ) stepped in, worried of a commercial let-down. Roger, open-minded as he is, tried to satisfy those requests and lost control over the final product underway. Do not underestimate the pressures from record-companies, please. "In the Eye of the Storm" did not sell badly, but Roger had to prove a lot since he was only one single person now and didn't even have the established name of "Supertramp" to his advance/favour. He gave way to the pressures long before "Hai Hai" could have become the album it was supposed to be. You dig it: One more compromise, and, in this case, a compromise too much.

It's simply unfinished, on every ( musical ) degree, but it satisfies that certain feel that seemed to make it suitable to the times. And it had quite some "big names" ( for the "insiders" ) featured in the personel/credit-section, supposed to sell it as a "meeting of first class musicians", another sign of faith being not given to the artist himself - but to a "first class production". And, be sure, the feel that I am talking about, it really was in it, and this was what made Roger finally agree to put it out that way... I suppose. You may think I'm talking bollocks, don't you ? But I have proof, maybe the best proof there may be... because: At the time the album came out, I must have inherited and therefore shared this feel. I thought it was great, and not only me. Several Songs, including "My Magazine" and "London", were "DJed" in my favourite Rock-Disco ( ! Not a fashion-one ! ) at that time and the DJ, who became a friend of mine ( and sadly died way too early some years ago ) felt just as excited about it as I did. We thought it was a Smash ! It wasn't. It failed to sell. And me... I failed on buying it because I didn't have the money - it was top of my list - and very soon afterwards suffered from a severe nervous breakdown that had me cold for quite some time. During that time - the worst of music I could have listened to was the music that aimed at certain emotional effects I used to get my "Kicks" out of for maybe too long... including this one.

I had to get back to the values myself, if you like. And, many years afterwards, buying this CD made me wonder what it was that I liked so much way back then. Immature - in too many parts. And that's what it stayed while "Brother where you bound", since I had won my nerves back, maintained its momentum. The simple truth is: There aren't enough of decent compositions on this one, though I still have a soft spot for "London" ( well, that's just a fun-song, no more, and I don't think that "Lady" is any better only because it's being more complicated, sorry ) and "Desert Love".

Apart from "Puppet Dance" ( a gem ) the material is of no higher standard, even "Land Ho" fails to make an impression, though ( preferably in its original form - with Supertramp... lol ) it's not so bad. The feel has gone and the album remains kind of a stinker, and be sure that RH himself is not too proud of it.

I haven't bought any other album of him yet ( except the far superior "Eye of the Storm", of course ), but that - again - is due to ( lack of ) money, not lack of interest. I saw the man live in concert ( because I had been gifted the ticket ) last year and it was absolutely marvellous.

This album is not, of course. It's a bare 2 star. But I hope that I have helped you understand why. If not... well, I can live with that. And Roger can, too. He's a great artist and in many ways he's better than ever. And you can't blame him for having been open-minded, or can you ? You may even recognise his real progressive approach in a failure like "Hai Hai", but then again... not too much, and for sure, nothing like "progressive ROCK MUSIC". Only progression as an artist... as his driving force, interrupted by pressure and then... goodbye for a long, long time, cause you all know that A&M dropped the artist after one flop only. That's business. That's record-companies. And be sure, Jerry Moss is one of the good people in the business, so better not blame him either ( Roger himself, you can read it in the booklet, has THANKED him for his support... a "support" that wasn't really supportive but this was to be seen later for all of us are human beings and human beings are bound to make mistakes ). C'est la vie, not C'est le bon, more than often, believe me !

rupert | 2/5 |


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