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Supertramp - Supertramp CD (album) cover

SUPERTRAMP

Supertramp

 

Crossover Prog

3.46 | 207 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Maybe I'm a super tramp

4.5 Stars really!!!! I had to re-write completely this review and upgrade the rating of this album as I reheard it for the first time in over twenty years a few years ago. I can't actually believe that I had forgotten (and not heard) how good this debut album actually is. I also had a re-listen to their second album but that one stays crappy (see that review) - so in my mind this one was probably also, mostly by power of association. When memory fails...... But I did remember that Richard Palmer-James had moved on as Crimson's lyricist and is now again in Supertramp's last line-up for the album Slow Motion. Anyway, Supertramp's first line-up was only a quartet and had Hodgson singing all the vocals and he was the bassist (and cellist and a flageoleter ;o)))), while Palmer-James handled the guitars parts, but Rick Davies' keyboards are dominating the album.

The album is bookended by the Surely pieces, which gives it a conceptual air, but it is nothing immediately perceptible, but you have to look for it in the texts of these (very short) intro and (full-length) outro pieces. So when Davies' hypnotizing electric piano hits the first notes of It's A Long Road, you won't really recognize right away the classic Supertramp sound, but the seeds are sown and the harvest will be in reaped Crime. Indeed the jazzy-prog feel of the electric piano is really enthralling and contrasts beautifully with Roger's voice. It is a bit of a deception that the following Bird Of Prey is very perfectible, despite starting well, but the dissonant short passages are ill-advised with that slow plaintive melody. But one of the album's apex is the fantastic Words Unspoken, where Hodgson's superb bass line and gentle high-pitched voice are superbly underlined by Davies' gentle Hammond line. Maybe I'm A Beggar is probably the song that maybe Supertramp built themselves as a rock group, as their name came from a novel. It is a slow crescendoing piece until it gets a huge boost in the balls (you can take the "s" out if you wish), starting with RP-J's guitar short intervention, then later giving us an -propos solo contrasting to Davies' organ, as the group really rocks in here. Somehow this piece could've been enhanced by a more daring ending than just a fadeout.

The flipside opens on the Hodgson ditty Home Again (unless it closed the A-side), before kicking in with the excellent Nothing To Show, where Davies and RP-J are doubling Hodgson's vocals. Filled with interesting breaks and interludes, this is another hint as Supertramp's progressive brilliance. Shadow Song is a weaker(st) piece of the album, but it would easily trample most of their next album's tracks, Aries excepted. The 12-mins "epic" Try again opens on a dissonant flute (actually a flageolet), but the track opens beautifully and slowly increase the tension until RP-J's slightly over-mixed guitar whips it gently once or twice, providing plenty of drama, before a lengthy jazzy instrumental break, later turning in full-blown hard- rock, then hitting a dissonant free improvisation (that some might not be appreciated much by some, but it's better and not as long as Crimson's Moonchild) after another verse. Hodgson's bass slowly brings back the track on track (or rn its rails, you choose the pun ;o))), and the group closes it in an energetic manner. Then the Surely outro gives a suitable end, even if it doesn't compare to some of the previous pearls.

And if Crime and Brother are definitely prog pieces, their most progressive album is definitely this marvelous and completely overlooked album. I hope that this review will do it better justice to that album, and I will carry on by saying that it has shot up to my third-fave behind Crime and Brother in a tie with Quietest Moments. This album is a typical early 70's UK proto-prog album, and even if it doesn't sound much like the future prog-pop band we all know.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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