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Supertramp - Crisis? What Crisis? CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.58 | 440 ratings

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4 stars I enjoy reading these (ProgArchives) reviews... seeing what other people think about albums that i'm familiar with. I've never posted before until now, though. The last few days i've been reading hundreds and hundreds of reviews of the later Yes and Genesis albums that i "rejected" back in the day. (I didn't actually reject them so much as just never listen, giving up on the bands after _And Then There Were Three_ and _Going for the One_.) Some of their later stuff isn't really so bad, although i'll say that i've always found Genesis' pop aspirations far more palatable than Yes' (I even think Phil Collins' first couple of albums are actually pretty good pop that i can enjoy... on rare occasions -- and in limited doses -- nowadays.)

So, far from being aversive to pop, i can actually LIKE it. To me, pop means that it's both catchy and popular. That doesn't mean it's any good. That's another axis altogether. So, to Supertramp. First, i'm surprised that there are relatively so few reviews here compared to Yes and Genesis. I'll admit that, until reading reviews on the later Genesis albums i never even realized what a hugely successful pop phenomenon they were. Maybe Genesis (despite most of their later music not being to my taste) did a service to the world of music, in general, in helping to at least elevate the level of commercially successful pop music somewhat.

Supertramp is a band that has substantial pop elements, as some reviewers noted is true for this album. I think the most successful creation of absolutely fantastic pop music happened on Supertramp's later _Breakfast In America_. I don't rate that as highly as _Crisis! What Crisis?_, but that's because some of the weaker songs on the former fall below a threshold where i just don't want to hear them any more ("Take the Long Way Home" and "The Logical Song"). This is all to situate myself, as the reviewer, so that you, the reader, can better gauge what i have to say about _Crisis? What Crisis?_. IMO, the best Genesis album is _Selling England by the Pound_, the best Yes album _Close to the Edge_ and the best Supertramp album _Crisis? What Crisis?_

Mostly, i don't listen much to any of this stuff any more, most of my listening being focused on the unfolding state of the "current" music scene (listening to The Frames _The Cost_, right at the moment... not exactly current, but a great album). One last comment regarding situating myself, the reviewer: King Crimson tops all of the aforementioned, with my favorite albums of theirs being either _Lizard_ or _Larks' Tongues In Aspic_ (both absolutely great albums).

I encountered _Crime of the Century_ while i was in college and... it's hard to describe how it affected me other than to say i was _deeply_ into it. This before _Crisis?_ was released. Then came _Crisis?_ and i found it to be a more mature album. There's a sort of deeply adolescent streak deep within the heart of _Crime of the Century_ that both deeply resonated with me at the time, and hasn't worn so well since then. _Crisis? What Crisis?_, on the other hand, is an album that hasn't lost one whit of it's charm for me. This doesn't happen unless an album has variety and mixes this variety up well. _Crisis?_ does this perfectly.

For me, there isn't a weak song (not even close) on this album. In fact, for a long time, i considered that it had the 3 greatest songs ever to be placed in succession on an album: "Poor Boy," "Just a Normal Day," and "The Meaning." To this day, these songs still evoke in me strong emotions, although the emotions evoked by each of these songs are worlds apart (that's variety for you). Each of these songs (as with most of the rest of the album) reflect that apotheosis of good songwriting: a perfect marriage of words, music and meaning. "Poor Boy" is a song that, to me, voices some of my deepest feelings about life, but if those feelings are about just being happy and satisfied in the little things, then it's not such a "serious" song (although i take it completely seriously). "Just a Normal Day" is almost heartbreaking. The feeling of melancholy evoked by this song fits the sentiment perfectly, although to feel this way you have to perceive what a "normal day" means from a perspective similar to that of the songwriter. "The Meaning" is harder to grasp, with the song swirling and crescendoing around lyrics that are saying something deep in a somewhat oblique way.

As for the rest of the songs... "Two of Us" reminds me of "Follow You Follow Me" by Genesis (a song that i find beautiful, utterly rejecting the idea that because it's pop or schmaltz or a love song or whatever, it can't also be a great composition). Where "Follow You Follow Me" is "just" a beautiful song and sentiment however, "Two of Us" is almost painful in it's beauty.

"Lady" is probably the "weakest" song on the album, poppy, and a herald of what was to come on _Breakfast In America_... absolutely top-grade pop. The keyboards propel the song along verse by verse, the melody ascending by steps, urgency heightening subtly, broken by a minor-key transition in the middle and then ending with an instrumental outro that reminds me of "Take the Long Way Home" (this part is one of those that represents a "weaker" point on the album).

As for the rest of it... you just have to hear it. It's the pinnacle of Supertramp's songwriting prowess over the length of a full album. Starting out with "Easy Does It" / "Sister Moonshine" (slotted side by side, belonging together, as does each song on this album), followed by the hard-edged "swing" of "Easy Does It," segueing into "A Soapbox Opera" (a _great_ song with, imo, great lyrics... reminding me of the later "Fool's Overture" in the introduction), then "Another Man's Woman," a nice pop/rock song that, again, fits into the album sequence perfectly (following the plaintive mood of "A Soapbox Opera" with something completely different), followed itself by "Lady."

So, there you have it. A minority view, which is what prompted me to write this. Only "friso"s review seemed to appreciate the merits of this album as i do. Supertramp, in my view, was exceptional (perhaps even unique) in being able to "go commercial" with such fabulous success (musically, not necessarily commercially: Genesis seems to have been top at that game). The proof of that wouldn't be clearly seen until _Breakfast In America_, though ("Gone Hollywood" ... such a _great_ song... "Goodbye Stranger," "Just Another Nervous Wreck"), but that's for another review. _Crime of the Century_ is, without question, a great album (although "Dreamer" is a precursor to the later, relative, duds on _BinA_ that i mentioned previously). But _Crisis? What Crisis?_ is (for me) Supertramp at their absolute peak.

A non-music related note: there are so many bands listed on ProgArchives that don't make "Progressive" music that i'd rather that this distinction of whether something is a masterpiece of "progressive rock" or not just go away, as far as rating the album (how about: "Essential: a masterpiece, worthing of inclusion in anyone's prog rock music collection"?). There's no question in my mind that _Crisis? What Crisis?_ is a masterpiece, 5 star album. But, alas, i can't say it's a masterpiece of progressive rock, because it just isn't that. It's "just" a masterpiece, full stop.

criegod | 4/5 |


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