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FREE AS A BIRD

Supertramp

Crossover Prog


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jaggrp@hotmai
3 stars Mark Hart's first album with the band. This one takes several listens to start to enjoy it, alot of fans didn't have the patience for it. Free as a Bird is a very thoughful song, and An Awful Thing to Waste is highly underrated and not appreciated.

This one is for the fan, others stay away. Give it a go.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#6828)
Posted Thursday, January 08, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
1 stars Caged Like A Human

Should've quit while they were on top and stopped at Brother. This is the album too much, totally uninspired, dispirited, introducing the replacement to Hodgson and, with all due respect, those shoes were too big for anybody to fill. Only the aptly-titled An Awful Thing To Waste is worthy of the previous albums (and even then, I'm lenient), as it is reminiscent of the Cannonball groove in its middle section. How could the brilliant Davies-composed Brother Where You Bound album be followed by this insipid AOR-aimed album that came with the now-old trick of having four or five different colored sleeves. Actually FAAB did spawn a minor hit in the song of the insignificant I'm Begging You. Not only is it uninspired, but it is also the only Supertramp album that allows now-dated instrumental effects. Best avoided at all costs as they manafged to do much worde that IS and FLW, which should give you an idea how bad this is..

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#6829)
Posted Wednesday, February 04, 2004 | Review Permalink
greenback
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Compared to "Brother Where You Born", this record is not progressive and the songs have all between themselves about the same simple style. All the instruments are quite present, are well played and do the job properly; the keyboards, quite varied, are not flashy and they just put some colour to the whole, while enhancing the rythm. There are some saxes parts. The whole is not bad, but it is a bit diluted songs.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#6830)
Posted Sunday, April 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
big_room@yaho
1 stars After teasing fans with the promise of life after Roger Hodgson's departure with the excellent "Brother Where You Bound" album, Supertramp unveiled the epic disappointment of "Free As A Bird," an insipid and largely unspired collection of art-pop that both lacked pop and lacked art. Listen to every Supertramp album that preceded it before coming to this one.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#6831)
Posted Thursday, July 08, 2004 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After the "serious" progressive music of "Brother Were You Bound", Supertramp recorded this album, more "pop-R&B-blues-Dance" musically oriented than "Brother...". I like this album even if it is not very progressive. I like every song, but with "Free as a Bird", "It`s Alright", "Not the Moment" and " An Awful Thing to Waste" being my favourites. It is an album made for "fun" listening, not for "serious" listening. Some progressive bands did some very good commercial albums like this, even if this album wasn`t very successful in the charts. Another thing that I don`t understand is why some people made "heroes and central creative forces" from former members of bands. Supertramp could exist without Roger Hodgson and could make good records without him (the same as Genesis without Peter Gabriel, The Doors without Jim Morrison, Pink Floyd without Roger Waters, etc.).

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Posted Sunday, September 05, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I urge people to revisit all Supertramp post Brother Where Are You Bound. They went into a jazz/blues direction and Free As A Bird shows that Rick Davies had nothing more to prove to anyone, he had liberated himself from the shackles of Roger Hodgson labels and was....'Free as a Bird'. Granted this is no pearl and sadly it bore the brunt of much criticism. Free As a Bird though paved the way for 2 very important albums that followed in 1997 and 2K2. It is a good album probably a shade better than Famous Last Words.' I'm Beggin You', the title track and ' An Awful Thing To Waste' shade the rest.

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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#6833)
Posted Friday, September 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
1 stars As prog as Engelbert

It is difficult to review a Supertramp album without making reference to Roger Hodgson at some point, such was his influence on the band. "Free as a bird" may or may not be intended as a description of Rick Davies, who became the sole band leader when Hodgson departed. This was the second Supertramp album made with Davies in charge, and the absence of Hodgson's quality control is more apparent than ever. This is Supertramp's "Abacab".

The album is as prog as Engelbert Humperdink, it swims in Earth Wind and Fire brass, and wallows in funky pop like a second rate Average White Band album. Tracks like "It's alright", and "Thing for you" have dance or funk rhythms. "I'm beggin' you" sounds like a Collins & Bailey cast off.

There are some slightly more melodic tracks, but even "Not the moment" and "You never can tell with friends" have such basic tunes, it's hard to perceive that any real effort has gone into creating anything other than bland pop tunes.

I'm sorry this review is so negative, I have high expectations of the band based on their earlier works, and this album fails completely to meet them. The proud name of Supertramp should not have appeared on this album.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#6834)
Posted Thursday, October 07, 2004 | Review Permalink
Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars It's hard for me to rate a Supertramp album so low but this one deserves it, at least here on ProgArchives. This is fairly average 80's pop music which rarely (if ever) recalls the band's string of brilliant releases during the 70's. Rick Davies always was a solid writer in my opinion, but here he sounds really uninspired with too few exceptions. The most interesting track would be the album closer but he really did better on the excellent 'Brother Were You Bound' a couple of years earlier. Rating this as a music fan this one hits just under the three-star mark, but here on the archives I can't go over one star.

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Send comments to Bj-1 (BETA) | Report this review (#6835)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
juangl062@hot
1 stars ˇMy God! żand is this Supertramp? sincerely it is difficult to me to believe it. It is a disc make with so many lack of appetite that gives real sorrow to listen to it, it does not have forces none, nothing is saved absolutely, if you buy it to yourself that only it is for completing the collection because I am sure that you it will hear only a pair of times and then it will go on forget it.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#6836)
Posted Thursday, December 09, 2004 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars This one is a total throwaway. What a disastrous outing for a once great band. A listless and uninspired recording with no substance or meaning was not what typified their work. With nothing left to offer their listeners, it seemed they had reached the end of the road.

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#6837)
Posted Thursday, February 03, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cytoxan4@hotm
3 stars This album was critiqued to no end. It was unfairley judged as it is decent music. With Breakfast in america and crime of the century...people are expecting something bigger, rather than new and experimentive. How ignorant. I've heard that this album lacked the complex sounds and qualities from such albums like COTC, but the concept of this album is simple easy-listening music hence the title "FREE AS A BIRD". Anybody who gave this a bad rating, listen to it again.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#6838)
Posted Friday, April 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Their previous effort, and the first one without Roger was quite a good surprise. So, can they do it again ?

The opener does not indicate that we are going to get anything great here : "It's Alright" almost sounds as a Collins song : poopy and very dull. We'll go on with poor stuff with "Not the Moment". Easy listening music (you know the one you hear in the elevator or so...).

"It Doesn't Matter" has all the elements of the Tramp we all like : nice piano intro, typical rythm. This one reminds me the flavour of "Crime" (a few songs from "Brother" also left me this watermark).

"Where I Stand" and "I'm Beggin You" are awful : pop / disco songs that are honestly ones of their worst songs ever. The title track won't be indelibly stamped in my memory : gospel-like choirs etc. Makes me real sick !

Supertramp has quite a sense of humour. Their closing number is called "An Awful Thing To Waste" ! I bet you ! It is true that this is a too awful thing to waste your money. One star.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#111691)
Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
1 stars Well I can’t say this album was much of a surprise. Roger Hodgson’s departure after ‘…famous last words…’ spelled impending disaster for the remaining members. That was also the first album where Hodgson and Rick Davies did not share songwriting credits, and the Davies tracks were clearly the more bland pop ones, including a couple that featured the completely charming (but not even remotely prog) Wilson sisters of Heart.

So the truth was either that Davies couldn’t write an emotional and substantive song to save his life, or that he and Hodgson were pretty much worthless as solo songwriters. Probably a little of both, because Hodgson wasn’t faring much better in his solo career.

Either way, these compositions are simply bland, boring, and lacking of any kind of emotional spark. There are several spots on the album where I could swear Rick Davies is actually Daryl Hall, and overall the sound is closer to Huey Lewis & the News then it is to anything the band had done with Hodgson. With ‘Brother Where You Bound’ the band at least managed to hide their gaping wounds and lack of depth by employing several studio tricks and key guest musicians, but here it’s only the four of them and a little bit of brass and vocals backing.

The first four tracks are nearly indistinguishable with their plain dance beat, tepid arrangements, and brass added simply to fill space rather than accent the keyboards like the band’s older compositions did. “Not the Moment” in particular is one of the most listless songs I’ve ever heard this band record.

On “Free as a Bird” Davies manages to at least come close to some semblance of meaningful lyrics, but even here he’s not convincing and the music is lethargic. No wonder the band barely made it through the supporting tour before breaking up for the next decade.

“I’m Begging You” garnered the band a hit, but unfortunately it was in dance/club category. This one kind of sounds like Harry Nilsson fronting Lionel Ritchie’s studio band. Ugh!

The plodding “You Never Can Tell With Friends” is meaningless, and “Thing for You” is one of the most obvious filler tracks ever recorded. Finally the album winds to a close with “An Awful Thing to Waste”, which aptly describes the potential of these musicians. Sad, sad, sad.

Supertramp had clearly hit rock-bottom with this album, and at least they had the decency and integrity to stay away from the studio for the next ten years. You can’t redo the past, but it sure would have been interesting to see what Hodgson and Davies could have managed to come up with had they not been yet another casualty of the eighties. This album is only of interest to completionists, and more than likely not even them. I’ve been playing this thing the past few days for the first time in years to try and find something redeeming in it, but it’s no use. One star.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#120150)
Posted Sunday, April 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Few things are as disheartening to hear as a once-gifted crossover prog band gone bad but with "Free as a Bird" Supertramp de-evolved into a new species of septic tank bottom feeders. I do understand more so than most that they were struggling to survive under the evil domination of the insidious MTV virus (I was there and could do nothing to stop that fatal pandemic from spreading throughout the music industry unabated) but this album is devoid of even a scintilla of creativity and for that there's no excuse. This project should've been scrapped long before it was rudely foisted upon their dedicated fans that bought it out of trusting loyalty and got burned. Shame on you guys. This platter reeks like a decaying sturgeon. Obviously, whatever we'll-show-the-world-we're-still-relevant momentum that went into and made their previous album (the delightful, engaging "Brother Where You Bound") such a triumph had perished a horrible death and been cast aside like messy road kill when they made this one. This is downright painful. A super cramp, if you will. One might be tempted to refer to the contents as urinary tracks.

They open this fiasco with the vapid "It's Alright," a shamelessly commercial, idiotic dance- all-night song that even Lionel Richie would've rejected out of hand. It's so boring that Rick Davies' average-at-best piano ride feels like crawling to a green oasis in the middle of an arid desert. And, if you think the music is mundane, wait till you get a load of the lyrical content. "I want you in my arms tonight/you know you whet my appetite," Davies sings as if nattily outfitted in a white polyester suit aka Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever." What I'm saying is Bill Shakespeare, your legacy is secure. Rick lamely raps poetic at the end but they wisely fade out before he's done. "Not the Moment" is one of those anemic, too-slick- for-its-own-good, perfect production numbers that's all gloss, no dynamics and no balls. The group's talented sax man John Helliwell is relegated to contributing only nondescript riffs intended to fill up the vacant space surrounding inane words like "Oh, well, I know sometimes it ain't easy/I know you're feeling bad/but you know it's the wrong time to tease me/it just makes me mad." What is this, remedial English for the literary challenged?

"It Doesn't Matter" is next and it features the typical Supertramp tinkling piano intro but, rather than taking you somewhere interesting, it quickly becomes terribly predictable and yawn-inducing. There simply is nothing here to comment on so I'll let their own lyrics bury it properly. "I just want to know why do you do this to me?/and where is your sense of reason?/so how could you fool me for so long?/and now watch my tenderness turn to emptiness." Substitute "talent" for "tenderness" and you'll know all you need to know about this piece of lint. "Where I stand" tries to achieve the kind of solid groove Steve Winwood was having so much success with about that time but it falls woefully short due to the fact that the tune is so shallow. Guest vocalist Mark Hart joins Rick on the chorus but he only makes them sound like Starship or any other from the crowd of goofy, mullet-coiffed combos preening and posing in front of the video cameras during that God-forsaken era. Davies' opening line goes "I'm a wreck and I'm a tangle." You don't say. The title song is a sad case of cookie-cutter formula composing that's wholly transparent and pitifully patronizing. Both the pseudo-gospel arrangement and the obligatory R&B chorale at the end lack any semblance of soul. At one point Rick warbles "You have my word/I won't bother you no more." Oh? If that were true then he would've halted the proceedings right then and there but he lied, I guess, because they're only halfway through this quagmire.

Evidently disco wasn't dead in Supertrampland in '87. I offer "I'm Beggin' You" as proof. According to the boogie fever spirit of this song it's not only alive but it's performing splits beneath a mirror ball and flashing strobes. This track reminds me of those mind-numbing days when a looped bass/snare pattern was all that was required to create a hit single. It also makes me want to vomit. "We had a love to be proud of/what was once a thrill then became a chill/and so very cold," he sings. That line describes their career at this juncture, too. "You Never Can Tell with Friends" follows and it at least has some big band-styled kicks but Davies manufactured this sort of throwback ditty so many times in the past that it's wearying here instead of clever. Not a trace of imagination to be found. "Thing for You" is so trite it belies its filler status nakedly, most likely penned on the spot to fulfill a contract obligation. Good grief, this is lousy! The aptly-titled "An Awful Thing to Waste" closes this vinyl cow patty with nearly eight minutes of monotonous drivel. Its dramatic soap opera beginning is useless and then they try desperately to emulate the previous record's driving "Cannonball" without including any of the fun that cut exuded so well. It has all the emotion of a metronome and it goes on and on for no reason. "Living life this way is a bust/if you have to suffer you must," Rick croons. Gee, thanks, but enduring multiple listens of this LP in order to give it a fair review is torture enough for this progger. I've got your suffering right here. Ugh.

Little wonder that this would turn out to be their last offering for ten long years. The well had run dry. Their muse was in a coma. Their bank of innovation had turned insolvent and they were flat broke. They hit rock bottom with "Free as a Bird" and a decade of rehab was their only option. I know, I'm grasping at clichés to convey how hollow and insipid these nine tunes are but I'm also being as sincere as possible. This turd should be inducted into the hall of shame alongside the likes of "Genesis," "Love Beach," and "Tormato." Ugly is as ugly does.

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Posted Thursday, June 03, 2010 | Review Permalink
progaeopteryx
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars What a dreadful album. Those four words sum up this foul collection of what could best be called Supertramp's foray into dance music. It's almost like, "hey, we forgot to go disco back in the 1970s, let's try it now!" I think a lot of people really lost respect for Rick Davies after he took this band in this direction. Even his returning the band back to their original sound a decade later probably didn't gain him any more respect. I really don't know what Rick was thinking when he came up with this dud.

Avoid this one at all costs, unless you're curious to hear the worse change in direction for a band that I can recall in a long time. Tranquilizers are encouraged.

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Posted Friday, August 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars I remember well. When Roger Hodgson made his farewell with Supertramp, during that memorable show in Munich that was aired on TV - and I had been a lucky "Live"-viewer of that one, which sadly was to be only released officially in parts on VHS/DVD later on "The Story so far" - he told the audience to not be sad, cause "in the future there'll be two Supertramp of similar quality, one as good as the other". Concerning their first two albums ( at least ), it proved to be a prophecy fulfilled, but while we still were happy with the pair of "In the Eye of the Storm" and "Brother were you bound", we could not be any more with "Hai Hai" and "Free as a Bird". "As good as the other" can also mean "as disappointing as the other", ain't that so ? Worse to that... what followed was that the both of them should disappear for quite a long time until there was any new material to be heard... and that's what made sadness win over, finally.

We had a long time to get used to ( and discover the qualities of ) "Free as a Bird", that was no less but a disgusting disappointment after "BWYB"... and many of us have given up on it. I remember my first encounter with that album... it was in a little record-store in Freiburg 1987, I was so curious about it I had to have a listen. And I barely made it through the first side of the LP then, telling one of the lads there that "Supertramp are lucky that I am NOT a music-critic". He looked at me kinda strange and asked "why ?" I said: "concerning the first half of this record, it contains not a single song that I'd name a remarkable one, it's so free of any excitement I don't wanna hear the second side now, so I'd give them the review they deserve !"

Now, here we go, so many years later I'm finally sitting at home and typing down these words for you to be read... and today I have to say: "They're lucky that I am a fan !", because this review, after all, isn't meant to be as harsh as my very first impression would have made it. Not only have I heard the "second side" in the meantime, I really gave it quite some spins. And I have - Roop's going to confession lol - bought this album twice on CD, first the regular, second the remaster-edition, Something that I never would have imagined to do even at the time I had bought it for the first time.

Did I need to have the remaster ? Honestly, no. The first one would have been enough. But I had lost it, don't ask me how. It somehow disappeared from my collection ridiculously and, after a while, I started missing it. So when the remaster was available at a pretty good price ( in another little record-store in Freiburg, that coincidentally would have been very near to that certain old one I've been talking about, one that since many years had ceased to exist ) I took the chance and filled the gap. Why ? Well, it's still a disappointment, but it finally turned out to have its moments. And, of course, I have changed a bit in the meantime, grown older if not wiser, accepting ( even enjoying ) certain kinds of emotion that, being a young stud, were absolutely unattractive then.

I started to do so with the likes of Supertramp, at least, because I am really a fan. I started to treasure "Famous last words" ( a lot ) that, in 1983, was no worthy follow-up for "Breakfast in America" to me at all ( making me think of Roger Hodgson's decision to leave as a good idea from which both camps would benefit first ), and I finally came to terms with "Free as a Bird", that, in parts, is really not that bad. But can I treasure it the same way ?

By no means. I still understand myself the way I thought in 1987. Although I pleasantly chant along to the lines of "It's alright" these days, as an elder male single who certainly came to appreciate the advantages of a one night love affair and how to have a go on it, and, even more so, can fully understand the contents of the title-track ( see, there has to be a reason why I AM an elder single male ), making it a joyous, encouraging little gem for me.

The rest of that "first side", namely tracks 2 to 4, didn't grow on me in any way. They are still as dull and boring as they were when I first heard them. They are of no merit at all, absolutely forgettable, with Mark Hart's voice delivering the ultimate low on "Where I stand". This voice does not belong in the foreground. It seems to deliver only one emotion, possess only one colour, and for me... both of them are kind of a schoolboy who was allowed to do some singing and therefore desperately tries to avoid any significance or personality in sound. "It must sound nice, I am not allowed to hit a bum note, or else I get thrown out of the choir". And that's the point: In a choir... no problem, but as a lead... OMG ! Upright but pale and, with a song as unremarkable as this, made to fail even in a schoolband. I don't want to be offensive, but listening to this does almost make me hear the voice of an imagined schoolmate saying:

" Funtime ! Get your tomatoes ready, friends, our favourite victim, seriously wanting to be applauded to as an artist, just entered the stage again ! What a perfect occasion of showing him he's only a wannabe !". I'd even like to save that victim from this experience out of sympathy, but listen to him doing his Perry Como-imitation without having half the voice to do so... no, I wouldn't, either. To his relief: Mark is a decent guitar- and keyboard-player, though, one who never ever stroke my ear in a negative way with Crowded House !

But "It's alright" and "Free as a Bird", in spite of featuring all those dated 80's synth-sounds, that's good pop-music.

And we have "side 2" of the album that, in the end and after all these years, even makes it preferable to Roger's "Hai Hai" for me, although... well... "I'm beggin' you" can only be positively recognised when you're in the mood for fun already. If not, it doesn't deliver any. It's a bit too poor a composition to do so. And somehow not to be taken seriously at all, not even as an attempt at writing a "Hit-Single". As a record company exec me myself I would have cringed instead of giving it a go as such, but the record company execs must have been very desperate by then... "Which one for radio ? One as good or bad as the other, let's take this !" Failure... but somehow it's funny, really, you just have to be in the right mood and then use it as a teaser.

"You never can tell with friends", afterwards, is one of the best tracks on the album. It's not at all that far away from the likes of "Not the moment", but it delivers a far better melody and is really a good one for getting yourself into a fun-mood. So perhaps you should listen to it BEFORE "I'm beggin' you", it might make a difference. The most outstanding one is yet to follow, though.

What can I say about "Thing for you" ? It's a slow burner. It seems so simple, almost primitive at first, but once it's got you... it's really the hell of a fun-time-popsong, and John Helliwell's playing is supposed to make you laugh out loud for pleasure, underlining the delicate tongue-in-cheek ambiguity of the lyric. And it's got an irresistible groove. It's close to being as good ( or disgusting, if you, as a severe prog-lover, perhaps like ) as "Breakfast in America" and somehow a pleasant hint at Roger Hodgson's sing-along-tunes. What, if you haven't noticed yet, may increase the chance for you to share my view was: Have a try and play it straight afterward "Take the long way home", which is a better song, of course, but has a similar feel and groove to it, and it'll make you wonder. Fine one.

The album ends with the only track that can be mentioned as "prog-related" at least. but again... all those programmed, artificial 80s synth-sounds that augment the great piano-playing ( for once on this record: You can really hear it's RICK ! ) can make you turn your back onto "An awful thing to waste". They can be torture, while the song itself is quite a good one. In terms of composition it may even be the best one here, but it's still outshone by the pleasure of "Thing for you". I still wonder if the lyrics are somewhat aimed at Roger Hodgson. If they were... well, Roger may cringe and not get the message right lol... but it wouldn't make me wonder. On the other hand, that's art, it may also be a genuine fictional story with even its narrator being made up for fun. But, hell, this sounds serious still, even annoying with its repeated saying: "You are a silly boy, you'll never get too far" while the leading voice claims that "We all want to applaud you". Or does Rick talk to "Rudy" here, while "the other voice" is what "he's" hearing in his mind ? Everything is possible.

But it's impossible for me to give this bare, personal 3 star-album any other than a 2-star rating on this site.

Would I buy it for a third time ? Well, let me think about it. I'm free as a bird, you know ?

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Send comments to rupert (BETA) | Report this review (#610386)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink

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