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Supertramp - Crime Of The Century CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.31 | 1601 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars The sweetest of all the crimes of any century... .

After their mentor and 's abandon, Hodgson and Davies had to re-start Supertramp all over from scratch, with the only assurance of a recording contract with their label A&M. The duo hired two ex-The Alan Bown! members: saxman and free-electron John Anthony Helliwell who had a high-pitched voice very similar to Hodgson's and the excellent bassist Dougie Thompson, whose bass would quickly become a very important element of Supertramp's new sound. They also hired Bob Siebenberg (later Bob C. Benberg) on drums and this would become the classic line-up of the group for years to come. This is the album that saw Rick Davies' rise as full-blown singer and his baritone vocals contrasts heavily with Hodgson and Helliwell's soprano voices, thus making this unique and instantly recognizable Supertramp sound.

Probably knowing that this would be their last shot, they returned to the more progressive fold of their debut album, but created a full-blown concept album that stood the test of time. Apparently, and despite their delusions about their first two albums, the A&M management liked what they heard and gave Ken Scott a "carte blanche" and un-limited studio time to get the album the chance it deserved. Scott had been around for David Bowie and Elton John, and produced a sublime sounding album, with outstanding arrangements. Just listen to Elton's Madman Across The Water album on the Levon, title track and Indian summer tracks' string arrangements to understand how important Ken's involvement is important to the album's sound. The album was also graced with an iconic artwork with the absolutely spellbinding jail in the cosmos illustration, thus enhancing the album's youth alienation concept.

But all of these details would amount to nothing, if the music on the album was anything less than flabbergastingly stupendous and the alternance of Hodgson & Davies song is one of the most inspiring ideas of the album. With that lone harmonica opening the wild School track (a rare Davies/Hodgson collaboration in songwriting), there are precious few albums starting so breathtakingly well. Indeed that song is the group's flagship with its constantly-changing patterns and many breaks and those schoolyard kids screams are spine-chillingly beautifully placed in the middle section. The blues-derived Bloody Well Right is a typical Davies tune that will boosts his confidence for the future endeavors. While a bit too-wordy, Hodgson counters with the spell-binding Hide In Your Shell, a flamboyant tune about shyness' implications. But if that wasn't awesome enough, Davies counters with the blood-curdling and spine-chilling Asylum, a pure bombastic tune about losing grasp of reality. Before one knew it, it was time to flip the album over.

The second chapter opens with the only song I like that features Hodgson's taste for wanker melodies choruses (see Lady, Give A Little Bit, the BIA tt, Raining Again), but the song itself is awesome, especially with the outstanding Thompson bass line and the establishment accusation lyrics. The Hodgson unconditional fans will have to recognize that Davies also managed some incredibly beautiful songs, like the album centerpiece Rudy, a fantastic trip through the estranged boy escape-route from society (listen to these amazing string counterpoints that gives so much depth to the track). This epic is equally impressive as Fool's Overture, and not just in my humble opinion. The self-explanatory If Everyone Was Listening is a emotional last-chance cry before-alienation-warning, before the no-return point of the closing track. Indeed the title track is a splendid album finale where Rudy commits his no-coming-back gesture, no doubt his idea of a Crime Of The Century. The track's long double piano finale is out-of this world.

This album will always have a huge spot in my heart as it was my first album ever acquired my hard-earned cash (newspaper delivery) and still one of my favorites; and it is responsible for thousands albums I have bought since. From the harmonica intro of School to the fade-out of the title-track this is a major work of art. This album was capital to me in my teens, as most of us related to the story of Rudy's alienation to his surrounding world. It is easier to point out the one slightly weaker number than list the outstanding ones: If Everyone is the only slight imperfection in here but it is still essential to the rest. It also took me some time to accept the wanker chorus of Dreamer, but the incredible bass line (courtesy of the awesome Thompson) behind made it pass. Absolutely essential listening and definitely in my top 10 albums.

Sean Trane | 5/5 |


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