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SUPERTRAMP

Supertramp

Crossover Prog


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Sean Trane
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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 ŕ-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.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#6669)
Posted Wednesday, February 04, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Completaly different to the next releases,this one is more in the vein of Genesis´s From Genesis To Revelation,or even Trespass sometimes a forgotten masterpiece that should be in every collection,one of the best "1st"album of all times

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Send comments to javierros (BETA) | Report this review (#6672)
Posted Friday, April 02, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Before we was fab

Supertramp's self titled debut album was originally released in 1970.

Right from the start Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies already formed the core of the band, both vocally and instrumentally. The song writing credits are also shared throughout by the two, along with Richard Palmer. The latter, along with Dave Winthrop and Bob Miller were to leave before the band found major success with "Crime of the century".

There's no doubt that "Supertramp" lacks the quality of "COTS", but it does bear some indications of the band's potential. The feel is generally slightly jazzier than that of their golden years, but tracks such as "And I'm not like any other birds of prey" do show Hodgson's vocal prowess well.

"Words Unspoken" has a real late 60's pop sound to it, almost flower power. Instrumentally, the album is quite adventurous, with several tracks featuring keyboard or guitar solos of reasonable length. The longest track, "Try again", clocking in at over 12 minutes, includes a lovely, bluesy organ backed guitar solo, which builds from a fragile start to an Alvin Lee style full on jam.

Hodgson tends to dominate on vocals much more than on subsequent albums, but at times he sounds like he's still trying out different keys! A good first outing for the band, but the best was very much still to come.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#6671)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
Proghead
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Interesting. This isn't like the later SUPERTRAMP that we all know, with their famous hits and the big production. This 1970 debut album was their least produced album, and has more of that production quality of many lesser known prog rock albums that existed at the time. This album was released on A&M Records, but originally never received an American release. In 1978, this, and their following album ("Indelibly Stamped") finally received an American release, but what's strange is both of them had 1972 copyrights. Huh? Apparently A&M Records here in America didn't do enough research to give the two albums their proper 1970 and 1971 copyrights. While Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies are here, the rest of the band was different from their later stuff. Richard Palmer-James, future KING CRIMSON ( Larks-era) lyricist was in the band for this album, as well as Bob Millar. Roger Hodgson still had his trademark high pitch voiced on this album, but Rick Davies was still quite unrecognizable, pretty much sticking to keyboards and backing vocals.

The album is rather bewildering to me: prog epics that get messed up somewhere down the road like "Maybe I'm a Beggar" and "Try Again". These are songs that the band needed to brush up their prog knowhow before venturing in to that territory. There's some ballads like "Aubade", "Words Unspoken" and "Shadow Song". "Aubade" is OK, "Words Unspoken" and "Shadow Song" grew on me. I can live without that reprise of "Surely" that ends the album, demonstrating some of the more undesirable traits of the album. "It's a Long Road" is definately one of my favorites here. The electric piano is used here, but Davies had yet to play in the style of "Dreamer" or "Logical Song" on this album. "Nothing to Show" is a rocking song where Davies does the vocals, but unlike say, "Bloody Well Right" or "Goodbye Stranger" (or even "Your Poppa Don't Mind" off their following album), his voice is still unrecognizable.

This album is basically SUPERTRAMP in their infancy. It's no doubt they were a product of a Dutch millionaire rock fan who funded them during their early days. It really doesn't deserve the trashing many rock critics gave it (and many SUPERTRAMP fans, finding out this album don't have songs like "Dreamer", "Take the Long Way Home", "The Logical Song", etc.). Still, a pretty interesting album.

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Send comments to Proghead (BETA) | Report this review (#6668)
Posted Friday, May 07, 2004 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This album shows Supertramp still looking for thier own style. It is their album that I have played less. There are some interesting songs like "Words Unspoken", "Nothing to Show" and both parts of "Surely". It is a melancholy album. Roger Hodgson sang all lead vocals, except little parts of "Now I`m a beggar" which sound more like sung by Richard Palmer- James (as it doesn`t sound like Rick Davies), and "Nothing to Show" which is sung by Davies and Hodgson, with Davies`vocals more in the background.There are parts of this album when I can hear Roger Hodgson playing the cello in the background (I don`t remember in which songs now).

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#6676)
Posted Wednesday, September 08, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A very underrated album generally! The first Supertramp album has all the flair of being progressive, great jamming leads and a twist of dare I say it psychedlia at times. I am quite surprised it never did any better on release although by all accounts it caught up a bit in sales as people bought CD replacements etc and also capturing a new generations of fans.

" Surely if I lied could I love you, nothing of our lies could we share....." Hows that for hard hitting nasty lyrics? ' Surely' starts with a quick lyrical blow to the solar plexus.The rest of side one comprises of shortish songs but with great singing by Roger Hodgson. They have simple but pure sounding melodies and you can hear from their debut how Supertramp already had that basic ingredient that demaned an audience.' It's a long road', ' Am I not like other Birds of Prey' and the beautiful ' Words Unspoken' confirm this. Side 2 has a more rock and jam approach and for me the better of the two sides.' Nothing to Show' is great pure rock.' Shadow Song' reminds me of ' Harlequin' ( Genesis) and ' Bound for Infinity' ( Renaissance) with it's hypnotic but subdued undertones.' Try Again' is another 12 minute rocker but it sounds almost king Crimson like in the middle as it rambles off, almost psychotic at times.' Surely' returns as a reprise just to remind you/her/him that no matter how much we want to pretend it's a waste of time. Wham!another kick to the solar plexus. There were to be some personnel changes for Indelibly Stamped the follow up but this is a great debut album from Supertramp. Four and a half stars.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#6677)
Posted Monday, September 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
abde@telefoni
5 stars After listening most of albums and songs of SUPERTRAMP, I do agree that it is one of the best music works they have ever made and it has to be considerated a masterpiece. Nothing to do with well known 70's Supertramp style that all of us love so much, but it flows a different way to feel and play the music, specially guitars and drums, perfectly played to get a fantastic result. Good job.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#6678)
Posted Sunday, September 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
Bj-1
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4 stars A sadly overlooked and obscure debut that Supertramp released during the early days of prog back in 1970, progheads should definitely fall in love with this one of they like their music with some psychedelic, jazz and sometimes even avant-gardistic elements topped with fairly solid musicianship and good confidense by a very young and fresh band. One bothering this is the somewhat lacking production. The album could have been even better if it featured such production like on their later albums such as Crime of The Century. Of course, this is a typical case for debut albums released at that time, and the album doesn't sound bad at all, but it would be improved if it had been produced better. The overall album mood is fairly dark and the music is quite different from later works by the band. It doesn't sound like Gentle Giant or Genesis, but more like Yes' "The Yes Album" mixed with psych and some Beatles-ish material. A couple of less good (but not bad) tracks are also present but the stronger material here definitely makes up for those and is almost as good as later Supertramp stuff. The best tracks are "It's a Long Road", "Words Unspoken", "Maybe Im a Beggar", "Shadow Song" and "Try Again". The latter being one of the bands longest songs and one of their most experimental at the same time, quite far out even for the rest of the album's standards but once you get into it, it's one of the best experiences here.

Overall, a very interesting and cool debut by Supertramp. Jarringly different from the songs that we know and love'em for, but has great potential for a debut. Sadly overlooked though, but get it eitheir if you are an open-minded fan, or if you didn't like their later albums. Excellent stuff! 4.25/5

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Send comments to Bj-1 (BETA) | Report this review (#6680)
Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Supertramp made their recording debut with a very good eponymous album. It sounds quite dated now, but definitely, in perspective it also comes out as a solid lost gem of early prog oriented art rock. Following a similar trend to that of Genesis' "Trespass" and Beggar's Opera's "Act One", but not being as dense as the former nor as bombastic as the latter, this first Supertramp leans closer to the existentialist melancholy of The Moody Blues (specially when it comes to acoustic sensitivity and the use of well outlined melodic lines), with a special accent on jazz and R'n'B incorporated for good effect in the most energetic passages. Davies uses his keyboards with ease and confidence, particularly the organ, which is his most featured instrument; he and Richard Palmer (later, a KC-associate in the role of lyricist) take the band's highlights with their effective interplaying, providing a genuine energy to both the rockier and the languid passages of the repertoire. Meanwhile, Hodgson and Millar comply efficiently with their rhythm duties. This album is prominently Hodgson-centered, which means that his lead vocalist role is present in almost 100 % of the material, and he's also heavily featured on acoustic guitar in most of the calmer songs (he also plays some flageolet and cello - being the youngest member and one of the latest additions to the band, it's amazing how he became the combo's musical leader). The opening number is a brief rendition of 'Surely', a typical hippy ballad, and then comes the proper starting piece, an energetic showcase for hard rock-meets-R'n'B titled 'It's a Long Road'. The jamming stuff is very elated, indeed; later on, 'Nothing to Show' will go for a similar vibe, although the result is a bit less exciting. The band seems more comfortable with the less up-tempo numbers. Track 3 starts with a solemn organ fugue (very much a la Haendel) played with sober skill by Davies; then comes an eerie acoustic guitar-based ballad that shows a hint of what in years to come will become Hodgson's signature musical sensibility. 'Words Unspoken' is simply a beautiful song, whose main motif is properly punctuated by the interaction between Hodgson's vocal deliveries and Palmer's guitar phrases. But beauty reaches new heights in 'Maybe I'm a Beggar', a sort of mini-epic that seems to be a favourite of many prog-heads who enjoy this album: I personally agree, since this track shows the band's emotional candour at its most inspired level. With Palmer singing the verses and Hodgson the choruses, Davies creating overwhelming harmonic bases on his Hammond and Palmer delivering stunning multi- layered leads, one can only feel in awe of the way this young Supertramp could actually conceive and perform powerful stuff with such conviction. After the energetic 'Nothing to Show', 'Shadow Song' finds the band exploring the virtues of introspection, this time with a more exotic vibe: the bongos, flageolet and balalaika create a solid interplay with the acoustic guitar and piano, in a similar way to JT's early acoustic ballads. The 13- minute 'Try Again' is basically a prog ballad expanded to a monster level, making it a sort of epic where jazz and prog collide and complement each other. Some special moments of this track: Palmer's quotation of Bach in some leads; the inception of a hard rocking bluesy passage during the interlude; the especially evocative beauty of the lyrics; and last, the splendid climax and the brief psychedelic improv that precedes it. The impression of false closure is provided by the full version of 'Surely' as the album's epilogue: first comes the complete acoustic section, then the electric coda which is as slow but far more energetic, coming to a second climax for the last seconds. I really love this album, but I can't give it an excellent rating since this is not a solidly mature musical work, Clearly, the band was still in search of itself, but it wouldn't be fair to deny that the talent was already there, perfectly matched with the fire of enthusiasm. 3-3 ˝ stars for this one - a very good start!

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#6681)
Posted Wednesday, May 04, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Supertramp, the debut album for the band with the same name, is much more progressive than the bands later efforts. But it's a strong album, the production is much simpler, with a seeming 'space' between the instruments. The album also benefits from the fact that the instrumentation and arrangements used were highly inventive. Surely an album combining electric piano, acoustic guitars and flageolet in a progressive setting carries with it an air of distinction. But the best part is that the songs have catchy choruses and strong hooks. About the vocals, it isn't specified who sings what, but it is apparent Rodger Hodgson sings most of the vocals.

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Send comments to Brendan (BETA) | Report this review (#78802)
Posted Saturday, May 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I still can remember when Supertramp's "Breakfast in America" in the year of "The Wall" hit radio stations. Some already knew for their three 1974-1977 albums, but most of people were asking "Hey, what's this?", "Who are they?", "Where are they coming from?", and a little by little on the wave of their popularity, their previous albums started to be of interest. But that search, limited by choice of albums that were reissued by record companies, was ending on time scale somewhere in 1974 like nothing existed before that year concerning Supertramp. The band was planetary known, a double live was released, and everything was fine. But something was strange. What about a couple of albums from the very beginning of 70's. They were listed in a discography, but nobody had it, and nobody knew almost nothing of them. Even compilations were avoiding them. Maybe they're like first two Moody Blues' albums, of no importance to progressive world, or something like that. And the years were passing by, and I collected all of their albums 'round the glory days.

And then one day, some 25 years later, I saw CD with strange looking reddish flower or cabbage face below the word "Supertramp". Hm, thought to myself, one more compilation aimed to pull out a last coin from pockets of poor fans. Looked at the songs, how strange, didn't know a single one. Year? 1977! That's impossible! Lineup? Davies, Hodgson, Palmer, Millar. And some shy 1972 copyright. Ha! That's it. The year is wrong! The First. Numero Uno. The debut album. Since it was on sale, bought it, put it in a CD player, and . "when the music's over" I stood in wonder, deeply touched with its beauty. Something like that existed all those years, forgotten and hidden from the ears of most of collectors. What a shame! But one gentleman long ago said "We're only in it for the money". No profit, no records, no music.

Well, thanks to CD technology, almost everything on Earth is now reachable, one way or another. So is this jewel from 1970. The best and most progressive album from Supertramp. The album starts with less the minute long acoustic guitar and piano song sketch with gentle vocal, and some 45 minutes later ends with the same sketch developed into 3 minutes song. Between the two there are a lot of musical ideas perfectly performed and shaped. Music relies mostly on keyboards, with excellent bass, percussions and guitar support, together with unique Roger Hodgson singing, often started with haunting flageolet. Songs have not standard stanza and refrain structure, there are a lot of interplays between instruments, and vocals fits nicely. The former A side of the LP brilliantly ends with short hopeful "Home again" coming flawlessly from desperate "Maybe I'm a beggar" (listening to it always reminds me that three years later some other guys similarly wanted to be back ".home, home again." after finding out one day that ".ten years have got behind." and being ".shorter of breath and one day closer to death."). Most of songs are between 4 and 6 minutes, never letting to cross the limits of band's capabilities. Only one is 12 minutes long, mighty "Try again". It starts with nice spooky melody, and incorporates same pattern with clever changing of instruments and tempo, styles, solos, including even real rock guitar solo and sound experiment before its end. Really strong!

".and I am not like other birds of prey.". Later Supertramp's records are more commercial, so this one I recommend highly to progressive rock listeners. Its four stars shine like southern cross (though I never saw it)!

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Send comments to cedo (BETA) | Report this review (#80789)
Posted Friday, June 09, 2006 | Review Permalink
Seyo
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars SUPERTRAMP debut is interesting and enjoyable piece of music, done in a typical early "progressive" rock sound. Dominated by keyboards and guitars, the whole album features Hodgson lead vocals and is obvious product of his romanticist, melancholic songwriting. Highlights are "It's a Long Road", with wonderful organ and guitars sounding like CARAVAN or later CAMEL, "Maybe I am a Beggar" and "Nothing to Show". "Try Again" is a meandring, long-winding jazzy piece that often sounds lost. "Surely" miniatures open and end this unjustly neglected package. Although not very essential for prog in any way, "Supertramp" is extremely worthy album that should be recommended. All the composing and production flaws aside, "It's a Long Road" alone can justify a purchase. ***1/2

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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#88239)
Posted Saturday, August 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Supertramp admittedly never belonged to my fav list though I've been grown up with their records in some way. Their debut always stood for me as a big exception within their discography, actually I even prefer it to their highly acclaimed (and in my opinion far overrated) albums from 74, 77 and 79 and it happens to be part of my collection since the days when it came out on CD.

The album is dominated throughout by a highly appealing melancholic mood providing a very distinctive atmosphere. Certainly this fact is much due to the presence of later Crimson lyricist Richard Palmer as a co-writer for all songs here. The music style the band was presenting on their debut sounds quite different from the one on their later charts-hitting albums. Most of the tracks are dominated by atmospheric Hammond sound and Hodgson's typical falsetto vocals like the blues rock-based "It's a Long Road" for example, which is in a more up-tempo pace. The following two songs "Aubade.." and "Words Unspoken" as well the beginning of "Maybe I'm a Beggar" (with lovely flageolet play) continue in a quite gentle and dreamy vein. The initially highly melancholic mood of the latter track had been abandoned very suddenly right in the middle by rather heavy rocking guitar. "Nothing to show" is after the very short "Home Again" as well kept in a more up-tempo and harder-edged pace which is rather exceptional for this album though since "Shadow Song" comes back to the basic melancholic mood. Most interesting track (in terms of Prog) is then the epic long-track "Try Again" which initially seams to be not that much different from the rest of tracks here. But in its second third there's an excellent organ-guitar interplay becoming more and more dynamic with the guitar as final winner of the duel. Then the track returns to its main melody with verse - chorus one more time and suddenly seams to stop or rather gets lost in some free-form playing of organ, guitar and drums - a part that appears to me a bit redundant actually - before a last chorus line of the main theme finishes it. Second part of the opener "Surely" finally closes the circle.

Overall this sadly too often forgotten album had been a remarkable and strong debut of a band that became later on much more famous (more across the Atlantic than in their home country) for far more approachable sound and "earhangers" like "School", "Dreamer", "Give A Little Bit" or "Logical Song". This later stuff from them I always used to consider rather (though quite good) pop or AOR-type of rock whereas here they came IMHO closer to progressive rock (or at least proto-Prog) than ever in their career. Not really an essential addition I think but a worthy one and I'll round up my 3 ˝ generously to 4 stars!

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#101013)
Posted Wednesday, November 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Like I have already mentioned in other reviews, I am quite reluctant to discuss the first opus from some music's giants from the late sixties / early seventies (Floyd, Genesis, Purple ...). Most of the time, they do not represent what the band will produce later on. This one is not really an exception.

The band's name and title of the first album was taken from the "Autobiography of a Super-tramp" by W.H. Davies (no relation to Rick) a novel about a well educated Englishman who turns his back on his previous life to live as a hobo on the railroads.

The drummer (in 1969), Mark Henshall's diary from 1969 contains the following entry about the hiring of Roger : "Wednesday March 12 - Auditioned Rog somebody from Oxford - played Bass & Lead. Written some great songs. He joined." He made an audition to become the bass player for ... Bad Company. Retrospectively, I believe he made a good choice in joining the Tramp.

So, in terms of music, what do we get here ?

A thirty-one seconds opener "Surely". Apart from the wonderful "Beyond" from the Dutch band Knight Area and only lasting for twenty-seven seconds, I have never heard such short tracks that really meant something. So, what's the point of this one ? Mystery ...

In "Words Unspoken" Hodgson's voice is already there. Nice and candid little pop tune. "Maybe I'm A Beggar" is probably one of the most achived number and precursory of their later work. Very nice melody, good background keys and good bass playing. Some psyche guitar elements in the middle part and a beautiful second half will definitely make of this track a highlight.

"Nothing To Show" has nothing to offer : uninspired and jazzy. "Shadow Song" is a crappy mellow one while "Try Again" is the "epic" track of the album, but do not expect anything like "Fool's Overture" or "Brother Where You Bound". On this effort it is just one of the few average to good tracks. A bit too repetitive though.

The full track "Surely" will not change my opinion about the opener. This album ends as it has started : weakly. Two stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#110681)
Posted Sunday, February 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
greenback
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Of all the Supertramp's records I own, this one is definitely the least accessible & pop; it is also among the most progressive ones. The tracks can be pretty loaded too, and it is hard to recognize Supertramp when there are no vocals, if you are familiar with their most successful music. The album starts with a catchy track containing an early Amsterdam prog organ sound: they do not sound British at all. On the other tracks, an omnipresent subtle organ is often floating in the background. There are some typical harmonica parts. The acoustic & electric guitars are very employed, which makes the overall style often rock and even hard rock because of the solos involved. There are some peaceful "New Age" flageolet parts instead of saxophone ones. The piano, Wurlitzer/Fender Rhodes are rarely used here. The lead & backing vocals on the very good "Shadow Song" remind Barclay James Harvest. The last part of the epic "Try Again" is surprisingly unexpected: it really flirts with a structured krautrock style!

Rating: 3.5 stars

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#125237)
Posted Saturday, June 09, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Kind of find this one difficult to review without the obvious comparisons to their slighty later work - ie 1974 onwards. It's hard to imagine that if A&M had let them go after one or two albums, they would have been destined for obsurity. Fortunately, this was not the case - can't imagine living life without Crime of the Century. This LP, their debut, is vastly underated. I can already hear the beginnings of the successful Supertramp sound. Lots of quiet moments, combined with bursts of energy and power. Highly melodic throughout. The more laid back passages, almost have a folky feel, reminding me at times of GENESIS - Tresspass. Roger Hodgson handles the majority of the vocal duites here with plenty of nice harmonies. And I'm glad to say, not a weak track. This would certainly be my favourite, if Crime.. had not exsisted. Only flaw from stopping being a 5 star, is the slightly muddy, raw production. If you listen to it enough times, there are one or two 'fluffs' by the musicians. Like most debuts of the time, they probably had a low budget and not a lot of recording time to polish things up, so I'll let them off!

4.5 stars for this.

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Send comments to kingdhansak (BETA) | Report this review (#129042)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Masterpiece ( my key to Prog Rock in 1970 ) I was 17 , a friend of mine called Georges gave me this album for 17 lebanese liras (whitch is about 9$ at that time ) & i used to get a 2 liras as an allowance for a week . So, i took this vinyl album to a Dancing Party , & i told my friends that i have a new hits compilation frm Supertramp ........ AND to tell the truth this album changed my life in a way that no body can believe even in dreams . Since that day i started my search about windows of dreams , Tracking Tracks of Rock everywhere in the world ( frl London to Paris to Franckfurt to Rome & Milan to San Francisco & Copenhag) and every little corner on Earth (surely as a Pilot ) . So, i have now , about 17.000 vinyl records & about 5800 cd's & still on the run for more interresting things . i still listen to ( maybe i'm a beggar , try again , words unspoken & surely up till now ) what a change , ... With Crime of the Century & Crisis what crisis .... Supertramp works are simply enough ....... A Big 5 Stars for this diversion in my life

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Send comments to trackstoni (BETA) | Report this review (#162761)
Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A very different start

Supertramp. Before I was a fan of the band the mention of that name brought songs like Take The Long Way Home and Dreamer to mind. After delving into their discography and discovering this forgotten gem it's easy to see that the band was not always this way. A very interesting album considering the later stuff the band would put out, this album is much more ''proggy'' than people sometimes expect of the band. Driven by airy keys, a pumping bass, delicate and intricate guitar work which lingers well in the background and some very good vocals, this is an album which is unexpectedly excellent.

Evident right off the bat how the music is going to be, It's A Long Road follows the soft intro Surely with a bluesy riff before a single bass chord comes in to bring the song into a wonderful track full of clashing instruments and synths. The guitar riff drives the song very well until it comes to an end. Very blues in flavor, this track is a lot more progressive than a lot of people expect the band to be. Aubade is a much slower track, this time opening with some subdued synths. the guitar riff still propelling the music, this zoned out track fits quite well with Hodgeson's dramatic delivery.

Continuing with all the pressing bass and wonderful keys we move right along. Words Unspoken continues with the blues feel with a slick riff and melancholic bass riff. Maybe I'm A Beggar is Davies first foray into the vocal territories, taking the lead for some parts, his voice obviously not as trained as it will become with his course delivery (which actually works well for the song).

One of the most ''different'' songs on the album - Nothing To Show is actually quite something of a show as the band turns the knob to eleven for the first time. A quick paced song which is a very nice variation on the otherwise midpaced album. Heavy and pressing, this one is a definite standout.

Then a sight that's rare to see, a Supertramp song that goes beyond the ten minute mark. Try Again is a well done track that unfortunately shows that the band needs some more time to develop. Effective use of near silence is a bit over played in this track but thanks to the rest of the song that's easily forgivable. Paying very close attention though reveals some almost hidden guitar noodling in the background which really could have been brought forwards more (even if it does as it flies into some winding solos). It's too bad that the Tramp didn't attempt more stuff like this until Fool's Overture, because that would have been some cool stuff.

A nicely rough and very different debut from these proggers. This one gets an easy 4 stars, it's an excellent album which would later be topped by the likes of Crime Of The Century. Maybe not the place to start with the tramp it's still recommended to everyone who wants to hear some good music. For Tramp fans, this is a must.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#170510)
Posted Saturday, May 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars If anyone was listening

Supertramp's debut is an underrated album and almost as good as Crime Of The Century in some respects. This album is, however, very different from all later Supertramp albums, which for me is a good thing! This album is more progressive and is more similar to early Yes than to the more commercial sound that Supertramp would later develop. Some songs here reminded me of the band Cressida.

While later albums would rely heavily on electic piano, there is more organ here than electric piano. Also, there are no saxophones on this album. Some interesting instruments used on this album are flageolet, cello and balalaika!

Surely this is one of Supertramp's best and most interesting albums from a Prog perspective. Quite impressive for 1970 too. However, the typical Supertramp sound was not yet here, and for that reason this album tends to sound a bit anonymous and not distinctive enough.

Still, this album is recommended for people with an interest in early Symphonic Prog even if you don't happen to like the later, more commercial, Supertramp albums.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#177005)
Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Supertramps selftitled debut album was released in 1970. It´s clear from the start why Supertramp is in the crossover prog catagory as this is not really prog but it definitely has elements of prog which makes Supertramp´s music interesting for prog fans. I wouldn´t call this debut album a typical debut as the quality is actually very high.

The musical style is rock with lots of organ and some really pleasant vocals. The song structures are generally pretty basic but the songs are arranged in a clever way. You just know that one of the main attractions about this band is their strong compositions and one of the other is the even stronger vocals. In that respect they remind me of 10CC. Songs like Aubade and the 12 minute long Try Again with it´s clever jamming middle section are really good songs that I enjoy a lot but all the songs on the album are above average rock songs. They never reach excellence IMO but they are good.

The musicianship is great and in addition to the tight interplay the vocals are very enjoyable.

The production is well done. It´s warm and pleasant.

The cover art is beautiful IMO. It signals progressive music and given the content of this album it´s not a true signal but nevertheless it´s a beautiful cover.

With this album Supertramp started their career in a great way. I´ll be looking forward to reviewing their next albums. This one fully deserves 3 stars.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#179131)
Posted Thursday, August 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Supertramp's debut is possibly better than you can expect. Full of early prog elements ( as keyboard passages and screaming guitars in some moments), long compositions, interesting melodies in some moments.

The strong part of this work is that the music is more based on early progressive sound than almost in all later works. Sound is acoustic enough, and you can clearly hear all nuances of arrangements. Hodgson ( for good and for bad) is main vocalist there.

The weak point is there are mostly raw material for future success , but no way mature music. You can find many attractive small elements here and there, but hardly will find even one fully great composition.

I believe this album is important for band's fans and researchers as well, but for regular listener much better idea is just to start with "Crime.." or "Breakfast..".

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#259073)
Posted Sunday, January 03, 2010 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album always seemed to have carried some sort of mystique to it; it's as if SUPERTRAMP was telling me, ''Hey, you know the Supertramp that produced CRIME OF THE CENTURY? Well, I'm much different and I bolster a more progressive type of sound. Not many know about me. Come on, you know you want to listen.'' Okay, the album didn't actually talk to me...

The least I can say is that if you really like the classic Supertramp sound, this will surprise you. Note that only Rick Davies and Rodger Hodgson are here from future Supertramp (although proggies will love the fact that future King Crimson collab Richard Palmer-James plays guitar here), and compound that with the abundance of Hammond organ and more obvious bass guitar lines.

The songs are mixed batch. One that visitors and members of the site ought to notice is the epic thingy in ''Try Again''. It's not really an epic per se, but more like a psych/rock jam with some free-form stuff in the middle. There are a couple of nice riffs here, but they happen for too short of a duration and the rest tends to dawdle aimlessly.

The two ''Surely'' bits are the highlights of the album for me, particularly the poignant opener (a rare compliment coming from me). The foot stompin' anthems of ''Nothing to Show'' and ''It's a Long Road'' and the spacious ''Birds of Prey'' are the other strong tracks for me with the latter being the one song here I can see fitting on a classic Supertramp album. However, the rest not mentioned are rather unmemorable; particular slops going to ''Maybe I'm a Beggar'' where Richard Palmer-James gives a rather sloppy vocal performance.

This is of interest to some progsters with a scope of adventure as well as Supertramp groupies trying to discover the source of their creative works. If you don't mind the goonier moments, this is a real pleasure.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#276766)
Posted Wednesday, April 07, 2010 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Being a fan of Art Rock it's difficult not to see quite a few of ones favorite artists in the Crossover Prog genre and Supertramp is indeed one of the most prominent cases of that scenario. Ever since I saw their name flash me by here on Prog Archives I got the impression that their debut album held the key to their progressive rock influences while the album streak that began with Crime Of The Century was just a watered down version of their past elements.

Naturally I had to get around to Supertramp's debut album just to make sure that there wasn't anything that I might have missed by completely ignoring this part of the band's history, even though I generally don't consider myself much of a completionist in the first place. The conclusion that I reached after listening to this self-titled release on a few occasions over the course of the last two years was that it's a decent debut album that indeed showed some of the band's stronger sides, although I still can't completely label this under the progressive rock banner.

The two main approaches to prog during the early '70s came most prominently from the classical music, but there were also quite a few of those blues-inspired bands which Supertramp was definitely a part of. Keep this in mind before deciding on the purchase but don't take my description of a blues-oriented Supertramp literally. The genius duo of Richard Davies/Roger Hodgson was already formed and, even though they weren't yet writing their own lyrics, there are quite a few familiar Supertramp moments here that should make most of the later-era fans quite content with this material.

Granted that most of the lengthy compositions rely heavily on the the Blues-Rock elements, there are those pure melodic moments like Words Unspoken, Maybe I'm A Beggar and the opening/closing sections of Try Again that should easily be ranked among the band's best moments. We all know that excellent debut albums are rare and, most often than not, lead to bands loosing their sting towards their 4th/5th release Supertramp's self-titled album showed us a new excellent band that we needed to keep an eye on in the future which is more than enough to make it an interesting record worth checking out.

***** star songs: Words Unspoken (4:00)

**** star songs: Surely (0:31) Aubade And I Am Not Like Other Birds Of Prey (5:17) Maybe I'm A Beggar (6:45) Home Again (1:10) Try Again (12:03) Surely (3:09)

*** star songs: It's A Long Road (5:34) Nothing To Show (4:54) Shadow Song (4:24)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#294273)
Posted Thursday, August 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Gather 'round, all ye prog tots, and lend your ears to this fairy tale: Once upon a time a skinny, starving minstrel valiantly chased his dreams of riches and fame night after night whilst playing for table scraps in sundry alehouses hither and yon. One fateful evening a prince of the realm, successful in getting out of the castle and away from his beastly princess wife, was draining more than a few pints in the local pub where said troubadour was plying his trade. The prince, possessing more money than sense, took a shine to him and bought him a Mai Tai. He asked the emaciated artiste, "What's a talented squirt like you doing in a sty like this?" to which the reply came "You do whatcha gotta do, man." The bored prince, having failed to master even "Wild Thing" on the guitar, yearned in vain to be an idolized rock star so the next best thing would be to own one. "What's it take to cut an album?" he asked. "Moola and lots of it," was the quick response. "No problem. When can you start?" slurred the inebriated prince to the stunned musician. They shook hands on the deal and lived happily ever after. (Not sure about that last part.)

Improbable? A desperate, crossover prog singer/songwriter's wet dream, you say? Not at all. True story, swear to God. Rick Davies was the poor piano man and a Dutch millionaire by the name of Stanley August Miesegaes was the prince who offered him a hearty pat on the back and a blank check. Blindly bankrolling a scruffy-looking dude without much of a band or studio experience to speak of was evidently the kind of long-odds risk that excited Stanley. Rick, no fool he, wasn't about to look a horse in the mouth when he's got a gift so, after placing an ad that drew another fledgling dreamer named Roger Hodgson into the wild caper, Supertramp was born. They recruited a drummer and an axe man and went to work. The resulting LP is understandably weak and unremarkable overall and 99.9% of these scenarios end up being handy tax write-offs for the reckless financiers but in this case Miesegaes' gamble poured the foundation for an entity that would eventually conquer the world and rule the airwaves of the late 70s and early 80s. This time reality was stranger than fiction. You can't make this stuff up.

Low expectation is a pre-requisite for listening to this debut with any objectivity because it's clear that, lacking the oversight of a seasoned producer, they really didn't know what they were doing while doing the best they could. I also find it strange that since the lyrics imbedded in their later work are, for the most part, exemplary, they appointed their guitarist Richard Palmer to be their wordsmith. He's no Dylan, believe me, and there's nary a single verse of his worth mentioning. They open with a snippet of a song that bookends the record, "Surely," and its somber vocal-over-piano-and-acoustic-guitar approach sets a dim tone for the music that follows. "It's a Long Road" is next and it sports a corny, face-painted Indians on the warpath as depicted in cheap westerns theme blended in with jazzy nuances and some feisty energy. Vanilla it is but even in this, their formative stage, they wisely tossed in unexpected touches like a haunting harmonica wail to add a hint of individuality to their craft.

One flickering ray of light to be found is the adventurous "Aubade/And I Am Not Like Other Birds of Prey," a tune that's better than its preposterous title by far. The initial foray is a ghostly organ piece that has little to do with the song that ensues. It has a folkish, early Genesis vibe that makes me think Rick and Roger were two of the twenty or so who purchased that seminal group's first album and were favorably influenced by it. The track doesn't follow the usual commercial pattern of the times and, while not particularly invigorating, one must concede that they weren't aiming to scale the pop charts with this eclectic fare. "Words Unspoken" is an amateurish concoction of disconnected ideas forced together to make a tune and Palmer's distracting pseudo-jazz guitar noodlings make it even harder to sit through. Hodgson whips out his trusty flageolet to pipe the intro to "Maybe I'm a Beggar," another dour ditty that displays their deep-running folk roots. They lay down a very timid track that belies their studio naďveté, the arrangement is far too predictable and Richard's sloppy guitar solo is atrocious and painful. They end side one with a cozy campfire number called "Home Again" that's strictly junior league and was probably an afterthought.

By blatantly ripping off the riff from the Yardbirds' "Train Kept a Rollin'" they attempt to get some dancers on their feet with "Nothing to Show," an up-tempo rocker with octave vocals but they generate little heat, if any. Davies' Wurlitzer electric piano ride during the extended instrumental segment is a welcome change of pace but it rambles on without direction for the most part. On "Shadow Song" Roger's usually strong soprano seems unsure of itself and it's the kind of number where everybody tries to find something to play on it without getting in the way. It's bland and devoid of dynamics.

The longest cut, "Try Again," is the dented crown of this wilted bunch. Their admiration of pre-"Trespass" Genesis is apparent and that's not a bad thing in this case. The inclusion of multiple melodies and a Gabriel-styled slant in the vocal make this by far the proggiest entry. The curious bent-string breakdown was not well thought-out, however, but at least Palmer doesn't overextend his abilities and ruin the mood completely. Rick's growling Hammond leads the tune's gradual buildup to the obligatory, shuffling "boogie" movement (a popular time-filling ploy of that age), then they return to the original gist. They indulge briefly in an ill-advised, totally out of character "freak out" detour that makes me think that sugar daddy Stanley insisted they do something "wacky like those Pink Floyd guys" somewhere along the way. Fortunately they manage to end it with a boisterous exclamation point. The coda is a reprise of "Surely" that broadens out into a grand processional aka Procol Harum and it's actually one of the album's finer moments.

Kudos to Rick Davies for not hesitating to take advantage of the huge opportunity presented to him. He didn't let the fact that he was a fresh fish out of water stop him from dedicating himself to learning everything the hard way by tenuous trial and error. He and Roger Hodgson also didn't allow themselves to be wholly discouraged by the failure of this LP to generate even a smidgen of public interest but cheekily chalked it up to being a lucky pair of neophyte sheep in the company of wolves that somehow survived to bleat another day. When you take into account that after only one more so-so album they would put together their incredible "Crime of the Century" masterpiece you must conclude that the rich prince's folly was anything but. Just goes to show how powerful a little encouragement (and, of course, a fat wallet) can be. 2.3 stars.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#308585)
Posted Saturday, November 06, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the brilliant debut work of a band that would release some memorable albums and some others not so memorable as well. Let´s see why it may be considered four and a half stars, rounded to five.

One thing that must be set clear is that this album is clear a collection of amazing songs recorded by a yet non mature band. Production is also very distant from what would be seen in next albums, but even these two points does not overshadow Supertramp´s debut.

So if we have to reach the reasons of this high rating, we must talk about the songs. There are a bunch of strong compositions here which are beautiful, melancholic and, mainly, memorable. It is very hard to choose the best one, Words Unspoken and Maybe I Am a Beggar are all rich enough to postulate this position. Even sounding like ballads, they are too much over average by means of melody to get their quality and progressiveness weakened. There is also to be tasted an epic named Try Again, very good, if not excellent. But the album highlight is It´s a Long Road, a superb composition where instrumental parts presented gives us a urge of seeing this kind of song to be again composed and performed by Supertramp. Unfortunately things didn´t go this direction?

I really miss a strong follow up to this album, because it remembers me some best moments of Traffic, a band I love so much. I can´t be untouched by the softness and strong melody of songs composed and performed by kids in the beginning of their career, yet far away from those mature musicians they would be. This is how I close the reasons to rate it so high Maybe for good, maybe not; Supertramp became a totally different band; and even having released a masterpiece like Crime Of The Century as a result of their effort, I still miss what would be if their poppy side did not prevail. In this case, how would sound Breakfast in America or Famous Last Words ?

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Send comments to Antonio Giacomin (BETA) | Report this review (#364381)
Posted Sunday, December 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Supertramp's debut may be proggier than most of their other work, but that doesn't make it better. Musically speaking, there's a certain early Yes influence floating about (especially when it comes to the vocals), but the band's ideas just can't compete with most of the other groups operating in 1970. The fact is that a lot of their attempts to replicate other prog bands' experimentations fall flat - often because they choose precisely the wrong elements of other bands' music to imitate.

Take what is otherwise the best prog track on the album, the epic Try Again: around three minutes from the end the music abruptly stops and there's a period of super-quiet instrumental noodling that's *extremely* reminiscent of the similar (but longer) segment on Moonchild from In the Court of the Crimson King. First off, that particular part is an experiment that King Crimson didn't repeat and which Robert Fripp doesn't entirely stand by these days to the point of actually shortening it on the most recent reissues, a decision which would be considered the utmost heresy by many prog fans if it were any other KC composition involved but in this case is probably justified. Secondly, they just don't deliver it as well as Crimson did, possibly because rather than imitating the free jazz legends KC clearly were inspired by in that segment they just wanted to imitate King Crimson themselves. (First example of the "imitate the prog greats" approach neo-prog is often pegged with? Could be...) And thirdly, the experiment is completely misplaced - rather than adding a progressive edge to an otherwise quiet and mellow ballad, it simply interrupts an already perfectly progressive composition.

So much for the prog side of the Supertramp equation. I must also report that if you dislike the poppier direction that Supertramp would take from Crime of the Century onwards, you should be advised that even though this album is proggier than Crime, it's still pretty pop in places (including Surely, which bookends the album). And if you do like the band's pop side (and I admit I have a weakness for it) you're still out of luck - again, the group's songwriting chops just hadn't been honed at this point.

Supertramp is by no means an outright incompetent album - Try Again is pretty damn good (aside from the Moonchild ripoff towards the end). But it would be a major stretch to argue for it being a particularly illustrious member of the Supertramp discography, and it isn't even satisfying as an obscure album from the early progressive era - King Crimson, Genesis, Rare Bird, ELP, VdGG, Curved Air and a whole host of other names released 1970 albums which blow this one out of the water, and if you gave me time I could probably mention dozens more at that. Worth it for Try Again if you are a major Supertramp fan, but if you haven't gotten into Supertramp's work before you absolutely shouldn't start with this one.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#465225)
Posted Monday, June 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars Supertramp's first album, released in 1970, has a very different feel from the rest of their catalog. On this album, where a casual fan may only recognize Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson, they play mostly late sixties style psychedelic rock. In fact, when listening to many of the tracks, I can picture them playing in front of a camera that repeatedly zooms in and out, with the band layered over paisley or tie-dyed patterns.

The only hints of prog to me come near the end, when on Try Again they lapse into some non- cohesive noodling (a bad imitation of King Crimson's Moonchild), and the reprise of Surely, which sounds like early Canterbury prog (Hodgson even sounds a bit like Robert Wyatt on some of the vocals).

The production, which was pristine on the best selling albums by Supertramp, is a mess here. Most of the vocals sound like they were recorded in a shower, or sometimes a gymnasium (both techniques were occasionally used to create reverb before better ways were found), and either end up mixed too far down, or just sounding hollow.

Nevertheless, as psychedelic rock, the album is not bad. The jams by Davies, Hodgson, Richard Palmer (the same guy who later wrote lyrics for King Crimson) and Bob Miller are very listenable. Just don't expect the classic Supertramp sound.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#478361)
Posted Thursday, July 07, 2011 | Review Permalink
baz91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars So you think Supertramp's early music isn't as good as the classic stuff? Try Again!

Supertramp's elusive and and underrated debut shows a startlingly different band to the group that produced such classics as 'Crime Of The Century' and 'Breakfast In America'. Technically, they were a very different band, as only Richard Davies and Roger Hodgson would be the only band members that these albums have in common. This was a band that were not sure what kind of music they were made to produce. The experimental art rock that can be heard on this album is incredibly different to the catchy sophisticated pop heard on later albums, but is no less interesting.

The music here is anything but monotonous. There are dreamy parts and rocky parts and downright experimental parts. The influences here seem to range from The Beatles in I Am Not Like Other Birds Of Prey to King Crimson in Try Again. The lyrics are quite pretentious, but add character and a sense of class to the album. Later, of course, Supertramp would be world-famous for having such classy albums. The best tracks on the album are the pensive, moving and powerful Maybe I'm A Beggar, the 12 minute experimental behemoth Try Again and Surely, a track that neatly doubles as the prologue and epilogue to this album. Each of the other songs have merits in their own rights, and are good for passing the time, but do not leave a lasting impression. At nearly 48 minutes, this is quite a long album for a debut release, and one feels that they get their money's worth of music, especially with the three tracks mentioned above.

Supertramp's early history mirrors that of Yes, whereby the first two albums would not dictate the classic albums that the band would release later. Also like Yes though, these albums are worth investigating and contain some thought provoking and downright enjoyable tunes, even if they are not in the style that we regularly associate with the band. Those wishing to enjoy a different and more progressive side of Supertramp should pick up this album immediately.

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Send comments to baz91 (BETA) | Report this review (#483010)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I love this. Supertramp's debut album was very different to the mid-late 70's/ 80's stuff which the band did later. Here in their early days they focused more on improvisation with various influences. 'It's a long road' is a top track near the beginning, with rapid bass playing, and I think it's Roger Hodgson playing Hammond B3 in one hand and Fender Rhodes in the other. Very nice work indeed. There are a lot of moody jazzy tinges throughout as well as some ever so light blues touches. 'And I Am Not Like Other Birds Of Prey', 'Words Unspoken' and 'Maybe I'm a beggar' are simply wonderful and best described as soft, dreamy and mellow with touching melancholic melodies. These sounds are interspersed by some rockier songs such as 'Nothing to show'. 'Try again', is the epic 12 minute beast, and it's very cool, especially for its work from the lead guitar. I wish Supertramp had done more stuff like this. As I said, it is different to the classic albums that came later but is among this reviewer's favourites. If you want more Breakfast In America etc, it may not be for you but if you like proper playing in a hippyish-rock kind of way then you should get this! I'd suggest this for anyone who likes a mixture of dream-pop and long progressive jam sections in alot of 60's/ early 70's stuff. Four solid stars.

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Send comments to Frankie Flowers (BETA) | Report this review (#512982)
Posted Friday, September 02, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Formed as a business opportunity for Davies from a bank account of a Dutch millionaire, Davies grabbed 3 more guys, trudged on, and eventually made this album. Subsequent albums followed garnering them as a Prog stalwart with a solid line-up ('74-'83), and then transitioning to becoming a smart-pop sensation. Typical infighting occurred resulting with the multi-talented Hodgeson, and then the great solid bassist Thomson, leaving. They still trudge on without them, with no signs of a reunion (Hodgeson openly shot all hopes down), due to principle (becau$e they can $$$$). The end.

I'm more into the unevenness in the production, experimentation and song writing than the over polished "we really worked this out with a producer" sort of thing that was represented in Supertramp's later, and other later Prog acts, albums (i.e. Tormato, Giant For A Day). This stands along the lines of a very varied bluesy-rock jams with some folk, acoustic ballads, pseudo jazz and acid rock tenancies. They might sound like they were searching, but they made a solid, powerful, cohesive, mostly melancholic album in the process. It could even be considered a concept album with it's bookends and underlying topic: love loss. Look at the album cover. It's a rose with a woman's face in it with huge tear in the middle of it.

Full of roaring, swirling Hammond, delicate piano, some pounding Wurlitzer 200-A, great audible bass playing, some flageotet/penny whistle, and sparse guitar. Some might argue this album as elementary. I disagree. First albums have a strong sense of vibe, like King Crimson's "Court" and Metamorfosi's "E Fu Il Sesto Giorno". It's somewhat similar in feeling.

It's a perfect addition to any Prog collection. If you want polished perfection you will not be satisfied, but looking for some psychedelic, "stoner" vibe this is a good one.

I discovered this album in '95, on cassette, in a dollar bin when I stopped smoking ganja. It was a good supplement. That sums up the initial vibe I got from the album. I loved it so much (as much as Scorpion's Acid Rock Stoner jam Lonesome Crow) I copied it on a Maxell cassette so I wouldn't lose it. Little did I know of budget CDs, imports, and Bit Torrents.

And get the surprise gem: Scorpion's Lonesome Crow, as well.

4.5 stars.

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Send comments to Monsterbass74 (BETA) | Report this review (#610864)
Posted Monday, January 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
Einsetumadur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 11.5/15P.; an amply innovative record of a young band with a very special sense of melodies and atmosphere. A plaintive British sound which is farer away from the hippie flower on the cover than you might surely expect!

Many people complain that the best albums in the intersection between blues rock and progressive rock were recorded by fairly unpopular bands. I don't want to generalise improperly, but I cannot really understand that. In the last few years people have dug out quite a lot of young bands of the early 1970s and uploaded their stuff on Youtube. Most of these totally unknown bands are weary homages to Uriah Heep or Pink Floyd, and just about 5% of them give me this feeling that I've unearthed a classy little gem which is either raw enough (-> the German band "Message") or artistic enough (-> the American group "Felt") to sound convincing. In fact, the great gems most often are the half-popular bands; those people like David Sinclair, Richard Thompson or Robert Fripp who have a select circle of fans, but who can walk through the streets without being talked to all the time.

Supertramp, of course, is one of the big pop bands; several chart hits, stadium concerts and all that stuff. But in 1970 when they recorded their debut album they were still half-popular; popular enough to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970, but still far away from TOTP.

To put it shortly: this album is by far an higher-than-average affair and is, although Even in the Quietest Moments is more perfect, the Supertramp album I listen to most. Five of the nine songs rather are on the folky and balladesque side of Supertramp's spectrum, the four (mostly longer) songs are closer to blues rock. Now how comes that this combination works out that perfectly convincing here? Firstly, the "folk" here is closer to the jazz-inspired folk of bands like Pentangle than to acoustic sing-along-songs. Secondly, the songs are composed and arranged quite sophisticatedly. And thirdly, all of the songs are tied together by this special plaintive and floating mood which later pieces like Even In The Quietest Moments or the saxophone solo in Fool's Overture would feature, too. Listen to the Even In The Quietest Moments album and you're perfectly in tune for what you get to hear here.

The only musicians who play on Supertramp and stayed in the band are Roger Hodgson and Richard Davies, and by then they favorably had developed their typical style to a considerable degree. Although Davies plays a lot of Hammond organ here, owing to the gritty sound an L- or T-series spinet model, he already employs his staccato technique on the Wurlitzer electric piano and plays a wailing blues harp from time to time, as in the quiet and tensely wheeling outro of It's A Long Road. Especially interesting are his unisono keyboard solos in which he plays the same lines on Hammond and Wurlitzer simultaneously. Roger Hodgson, still the bass player in the band, provides the first of his plaintively charismatic melodies (the motif of Maybe I'm A Beggar among many others) and, well, he is Roger Hodgson and pretty much coins this record. I don't think there's anyone who isn't sent shivers down his spine by Hodgon's delicious multi-tracked harmonies in Shadow Song which are pretty much in the vein of Simon & Garfunkel's The Only Living Boy in New York. And what would a shortish and simple campfire tune like Home Again be without this certain Hodgson vibe? Of course the inventively spontaneous jazz guitar bendings in the background also contribute their part to the song, but I'm pretty sure that you get the picture.

Plenty of similarities to later Supertramp albums until now, so what is strikingly different to later Supertramp works? First of all: neither there are saxophones, nor does Richard Davies sing lead anywhere. Hodgson's sporadic counter-voice is guitarist Richard Palmer's, and although he doesn't sing half as strongly as Davies (especially in his frail falsetto part in Maybe I'm A Beggar) it still works out fine. Instead of the woodwind instruments the band adds some unexpected instruments which do not merely appear in the personnel list but which are clearly audible parts of the arrangements. Hodgson, for instance, plays the flageolet on Maybe I'm A Beggar, Try Again and Shadow Song, an eerie-sounding flute related with the Irish tin whistle, and especially the Shadow Song is stuffed with gorgeous polyphonic flute lines which interact perfectly with a short and sweet motif which guitarist Richard Palmer plays on the balalaika. (Palmer, by coincidence, is the Richard Palmer-James who composed King Crimson lyrics. He also wrote all of the lyrics on this album). Furthermore Roger Hodgson augments the bass part of certain songs by playing some bass notes on the cello, especially on the psychedelic And I Am Not Like Other Birds of Prey which is introduced by a spooky Hammond organ prelude (Aubade). In this piece the cello plays against dissonant Hammond organ chords which create a certain 'maritime' atmosphere (foghorn, seagulls etc.). Look out for the little backwards guitar bit somewhere in the middle!

Another notable difference to later Supertramp albums is Palmer's electric guitar. Contrary to Hodgson (who took over guitar duties after 93 guitarist auditions) Palmer is a lead guitarist. For sure he's not top-notch, but his playing evades coming across as too dated and he does sound really tight in the context of this band. On It's A Long Road his restrained rhythm guitar, in combination with Hodgon's high tenor voice and some jazzy keyboard solos, reminds me of early Caravan. Maybe I'm A Beggar displays some blues soloing, and although some of the licks run the risk of getting slightly generic, the double-tracking of the guitar and these vaguely Caribbean phrasing are quite cool. But the real treat are these tasty Bach-inspired Gibson melodies which are scattered in nearly all of the songs, most effectively in the chorus of Words Unspoken in which Palmer doubles his relaxed balalaika strumming. It's exactly the kind of counterpoint stuff Jethro Tull's Martin Barre did on Wondring Again around that time. An especially baroque instrumental part with guitar arpeggios and solo bass commences an especially spiry example of the aforementioned 'unisono' keyboard solos in Nothing to Show. This piece somehow predates the next Supertramp album Indelibly Stamped since it features vocal backing by Richard Davies, singing unisono with Hodgson, one or two octaves lower than him, all the way through.

Bookending this album with the song Surely was a really nice idea. Surely 1, in fact the second verse of the song, is a perfect example of a preamble. One verse, vocals and acoustic guitar plus some reverb. Surely 2 consists of verse 1 and 2 (but from a different take) and then moves into a bombastic finale which is genuine symphonic prog, somewhere on the average distance between Procol Harum's Homburg and Genesis' Squonk Reprise at the end of Los Endos, but with a distinct flavour of Bach's church organ stuff. Again Hodgson adds droning multi-tracked harmonies on the top of that wobbly Hammond organ which seemingly mistakes itself for a Mellotron, judging by the pride with which it rejoices in the very end. Full-on bombast power which would sound absolutely pathetic if it didn't belong to this album.

The longest piece of this album is Try Again, and it's that long due to extensive improvisation and not due to suite-like structures as in Genesis' The Knife. But I have to admit that the improvisation is damn inventive. The flageolet-supported vocal part of the stanza, nearly as fractured as that popular Carmina Burana choire by Orff in its phrasing, alternates with the refrain which floats by in sustained notes and with a twisted minor-major modulation. A creepy guitar-bending part leads into an all-instrumental canon for bass, Hammond and Wurlitzer, and this is where an extended clean guitar solo begins, and it's subtle and spirited at the same time. Lots of Bach-inspired trills abound, running the scales up and down, accompanied by fine drumming and again with these odd Hammond chords in the background. A loud and fast shuffle part leads back into the vocal part which mutes after eight-and-a-half minutes. Then the band go into a part which is a pretty precarious matter: silent free-form noodling avantgarde. Renaissance did that on their second album and weren't successful, Kevin Ayers failed entirely with Pisser Dans Un Violon and even King Crimson's Moonchild didn't work completely. But the band stops the noodling after barely two minutes and recreates the refrain from a bluesy organ chord progression - this time with ferocious guitar chords, rapid drumming and a blistering outro. The album loses a few points because the jams are slightly dated, but there's no filler material here - lots of respect to the band for finally creating something interesting out of a free-form part.

After all, Supertramp's debut album is an unexpectedly convincing affair without the aberrations which debut albums of many bands of that time had. The production is less professional than on later Supertramp albums (don't expect the mind-blowing power of Ken Scott's Crime of the Century sound), but perfectly satisfying - you hear every detail, the stereo panorama is used to the point; fine. The reason why I don't give this album the full 5 star rating is that it has this slightly dated sound - without loading a colossal amount of mind-blowingly innovative ideas. This, of course, doesn't change the fact that this album is damn fine - and pretty unique. You'll certainly enjoy it if you like Caravan, Jethro Tull, Moody Blues and/or, of course, Supertramp.

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Send comments to Einsetumadur (BETA) | Report this review (#745408)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Whenever I look at the artwork of this Supertramp's debut album, it reminds me one act of Peter Gabriel in performing Supper's Ready live after he sings: "A flower?". This artwork by Supertramp appeared in July 1970 while Genesis Foxtrot was sometime in 1972 ? was it because of this artwork then Peter Gabriel acted like a flower? Maybe it's just a coincidence.

By the late 1970s, the Supertramp's blend of keyboard-heavy progressive rock and pop flavor had yielded several hit singles and a few platinum LPs. In the late 1960s Dutch millionaire Stanley August Miesegaes heard Rick Davies in a band called the Joint. When that band broke up, Miesegaes offered to bankroll a band if Davies would handle the music. Davies placed classified ads in London newspapers for a band. The first response was from Roger Hodgson, who was to split songwriting and singing with Davies in Supertramp, the name they took from W.H. Davies' 1938 book, The Autobiography of a Supertramp. Supertramp is the self-titled debut album released in July 1970. It has sometimes been published under the title Now and Then. The album explored a more of progressive rock than their later works, and was their only album recorded without a saxophonist. It was not released in the US until late 1977. No wonder if people at the US did not recognize this as the debut album.

The music is progressive in texture and it's the only one on which drummer Bob Miller and guitarist Richard Palmer appeared, replaced by Kevin Currie and Frank Farrell for the Indelibly Stamped release which surfaced a year later. It has greater emphasis and attention granted to the keyboards and guitars than to the writing and to the overall effluence of the music. There are some excellent segments, such as the mixture of melody and subtlety that arises in "Words Unspoken," "Surely," and "Nothing to Show". There is also fusion that consumes throughout the 12 minutes of "Try Again" . Hodgson uses of cello, flageolet, and acoustic guitar and while both he and Davies had just recently formed solid collaboration, it was evident that their songwriting was going to be one of the band's strengths.

There's quality music hidden beneath the picture on this fine debut album. What a difference a couple of years makes! Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson would remain the only hold overs from the first album on later Supertramp classics. Hodgson handles the bulk of the lead vocals on the debut and he does so quite well. The bluesy style that distinguish the Davies sung pieces hasn't quite emerged yet with the sound firmly planted in the "classic" prog sound of the early 70's.

Peace on earth and mercy mild ? GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#1066381)
Posted Saturday, October 26, 2013 | Review Permalink

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