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Supertramp - It Was The Best Of Times  CD (album) cover

IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES

Supertramp

Crossover Prog


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Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Yes. The double CD version of this album was very expensive when in late 1999 I wanted to buy it (and maybe it is still very expensive now). But I found a one CD version which has these songs:"You win I lose", "Listen to me please", "Sooner or later", "Free as a Bird", "Cannonball", "From now on", "Breakfast in America", "And the light", "Take the long way home", "Bloody well right", "The logical song", "Goodbye Stranger" and "School". The day I bought this CD, I wrote an e-mail message to Supertramp.com. which said:żWhy releasing for a third time live versions of songs previously released in "Paris" and "Live `88"? As I also wrote to them, it could have been better if they only had released the live versions of songs not previously released on other live albums in a one CD version. I only received a message that said "This server has received this e-mail message...". Despite having songs previously released in other live albums, this line-up of Supertramp played them very good. Mark Hart sang some old songs originally sung by Roger Hodgson, doing a good job, but I think that Supertramp could live without playing these songs.Roger Hodgson said in interviews that he doesn`t like that Supertramp play his songs in concert, that he had a verbal agreement with Rick Davies about it when he left the band, but Davies said in othe interviews that it wasn`t true. Mark Hart also sang songs (two in the double CD version, one in the one CD version) that he composed with Davies, and I prefer to hear Mark Hart singing his own songs instead of being a singer of Hodgson`s songs on tour with Supertramp. The main reason I bought this CD was the inclusion of "Goodbye Stranger" and other songs that were not released in other live albums. Maybe one day I`m going to buy the 2 CD version of this album.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#6876)
Posted Wednesday, September 08, 2004 | Review Permalink
Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Very promising live album from Supertramp. Recorded in 1997 on their "Some Things Never Change" tour. This one features tracks from that album plus many from their earlier works. They're performed with excellence, though the absence of Roger Hodgson gives this album a emptier feeling to it than the "Paris" live album released in 1980. The production is clear and extremely good, and the overall musical performance is great throughout. Mark Hart sings Hodgson's songs good, though it's not quite the same.

If you are a fan, this one is not to be missed! Highly recommended. 4/5, minimum!

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Send comments to Bj-1 (BETA) | Report this review (#6877)
Posted Monday, February 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I don't know anything else by Supertramp, and to be honest I found this in my mum's collection. It is a good collection of AOR-styled songs, with hints of prog here and there. The sound quality is very good for a live record, but there's still a live edge there. I think it's the saxophone that makes a lot of this sound very stadium rock, and it's not really up my street. I like a few of the tracks. 'It's a Hard World' stuck out to me, as did a few other's. By the end of the album the vocalist seems to be a little worn out. Overall a good album, but judging by my personal tastes I would only give it a two star rating. However I'm going to rate it from a more objective point of view and give it three stars, as I can see what people might see in it.

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Send comments to burtonrulez (BETA) | Report this review (#165194)
Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars I have very mixed emotions about this one. In many ways, it's perfect, but in too many other ways, it's a big, pretentious deception, starting with the title. 3 members of the classic "Crime"-Line up and the approach of giving the audience a "best of Supertramp-revue" in best possible sound quality don't make this a good live-album, and though I don't have a problem with Roger Hodgson not being on board I sure do have a problem with how this professional unit is handling his compositions, Mark Hart being in no way a man to make them sound any other than a faceless tribute-band would - augmented by first-rate session-musicians, no doubt, but maybe also because Rick Davies and his then "new" band have decided to simply break the gentlemen's agreement once more ( even denying it to have been made, which can't be true, sorry ) and use Roger's songs, the feel just isn't right... what comes to my mind when listening to this is: it's only a small grade from "use" to "abuse".

Some songs of Rick's, in particular "Another Man's Woman", "Cannonball" and "It's a hard World", seem to make up for that, cause in those moments everything seems to fall into place and work out well, but in too many cases it's just a shadow left of the emotions that his ( and Rogers' ) compositions used to deliver originally, with the definite low-point of "From now on" being played so slow it can make you fall asleep. And that's perhaps the most disappointing thing about this recording: Even ( most of ) Rick's ( old ) songs don't feel right, so there must have been something wrong... no matter how good the musicians have played and how perfect the sound-mix came to be. It's the lack of passion and devotion to what most of the songs used to inherit that cannot be overheard. A big spectacle with no other purpose than entertainment in which the spirit of old is absent cause everybody, including John Helliwell as an animator, is somewhat only doing their job, but if left alone - they all would probably have done something else, including Rick Davies, who by then only seemed to come alive with some newer material and as soon as the band dug into Rhythm and Blues.

But Supertramp had once been about far more than this, and taking songs that, in their time at least, stood for more and perform them on stage in order to "give sugar to the ape" ( and then, maybe most important with "events" like these, receive a huge pay-check for doing so ), whilest they get robbed off their spirit and content, makes the whole thing become a self-parody. Is this serious art ? No, it's artists who used to be serious once but seem to have lost their self-demands which by now have been reduced to a perfect-sounding but soulless repetition, while they want the whole world to still celebrate them as serious artists. Why not celebrate the art instead ? The audience is loving Supertramp, the audience is celebrating the past, the audience perhaps did not ask for more cause to see Rick, John and Bob ( at least ) and to hear those songs seems to be enough. But the band doesn't celebrate them. The band, emotionally, is somewhere else, and anytime that one of those gifted musicians is allowed to "break out" and show some of their own feel they suddenly seem to be alive, problem is... the songs themselves sound rather dead.

An act of duty, expensively presented so everyone can tell themselves it was worth the money ( the audience looking at the money they've spent, the entertainers looking at the money they've earned ), but as soon as the event is over and all you have left is the audible testament, the blown up balloon loses all of the gas and reveals that it has been nowhere near an necessity in terms of art, even in terms of a welcome revival to relive the glorious past... one can even imagine the record-company execs now looking at the money they're hoping to wrench out of it... so EMI can finally have their bit of cake from whatever's left of "Supertramp". I'm loathing at this, really, and I have the strong suspicion to even share this bad feel with Dougie Thomson, who wasn't interested in becoming a part of that "Comeback". The Cover-artwork seduces me to say: That man's just sweeping the floor of the concert hall, and the rubbish he's got to remove are the final remainders of "Supertramp" !

Too harsh a judgement ? Maybe. But Rick Davies himself finally makes me dare to do so, calling this "The best of Times", as if it honestly was. NO ! That's wishful thinking, at best, and it's cheating the record-buyers at worst. Anybody knows that, in terms of music as well as sales - but most of all for the fans - the real "best of times" was with Roger Hodgson, and the only official live-album by Supertramp that does deserve this title has to be "Paris". And, having been given that title, another live-album is meant to be compared to "Paris". This one can't stand the comparism, maybe no live-album without Hodgson can, but Rick Davies wants it to be seen as the best while even he, as an artist, can't feel satisfied about the whole thing. He may have spent a better time on the road without his old counterpart... okay, less trouble, less discussions, more fun. But when it comes to the naked truth about the band and where it went... well, he'd be far better off to not play any of Roger's songs anymore, focus on R'n'B and some old stuff he's really keen to perform, perhaps even shaking off the big name and never, ever again tempt the listener to compare the results with what was really best, then it may be alright, just as "Slow Motion" afterwards came to be an alright album. My rating is a result of two things: my disappointment with the final product and my angriness because of the arrogance with which it was sold. Maybe I'd have given three stars ( it's a bit better than "Live '88" because it features many better songs and sounds far better ) if it weren't such an embarrassing move to mislead the record-buyers who, in any way, are better off with "Paris" or "The very best of Supertramp".

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Send comments to rupert (BETA) | Report this review (#610389)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Was hard to find the double CD but finally I have it, and it is a great production. Along the years I was enjoying more and more the Davies side of Supertramp and this album is for me a good proof of that. The album has a great sound and a shows a very polished performance of the band. One of the things that I really aprecciate of IWTBOT is that there are many tracks from the post Hodgson era, and they sound great. Mark Hurt is not Hodgson but he does a decent job, and by the way there are only 4 songs originally sung by Roger, over a total of 21, so less than a 20%. The set list mixes some pop stuff (specially Roger's American Breakfast songs), some stunning ballads written by Davies, and these prog jazzy tracks that I really enjoy too much.

The show starts wit It's a hard world, a mini epic from the Some things never change (STNCH) album, in a superb version with some differences with the original, simply great. You win I lose is another track of that album, but not a big thing. Originally this song was an attempt of Davies and Hodgson to return to the old times which finally was a failure. If this song would be a bit faster maybe could be better, so, nothing special. Things get better with the other song of STNCH, like Listen to me please. Now the performance and the track are stunning. The fast piano riff and the Davies singing are great and Hurts fits perfect in the vocal counterpoint, Then, in the chorus, Davies sounds with all his power. On the CD 1 old tracks like Ain't nobody, From now on or Rudy goes well too, specially this last one, a really prog number. Cannonball sounds really good, and the ballad Free as a bird in the same way. Sooner or later, sung by Mark Hurt, seems to be almost an Alan Parsons track, till flows into the instrumental section, and here John Helliwell is at his best in a great performance, over all this piano and hammonds inputs, great.

But the best is in the CD 2, and maybe that confirms my present tastes. I'm talking about of this version of Another man's woman. Here Supertramp sounds incredible, and doing a live prog number in a level in which maybe never did before. I have the Paris DVD, with an old version of this track live, and differences are prominent. Here everything seems to be perfect, the power of the band, the guitar and the percussion works, but mainly this long and frenetic piano solo. Davies shines with his voice and the ending is just perfect. Another man's woman is the absolute highlight of the album, and this song is not in the single CD version. In this second CD we can find a stunning performance of the beautiful ballad Downstream (Even in the quietests moments), or the live version of And the light, another great ballad from STNCH, and amazing renditions of classics like Goodbye stranger (not in the Paris CD), Bloody well right, School or Crime of the Century.

Hodgson wasn't anymore, and Supertramp made one of their best works (IMO), with many prog elements, and I think that is an excellent addition.

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Send comments to genbanks (BETA) | Report this review (#1086128)
Posted Thursday, December 05, 2013 | Review Permalink

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