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Supertramp - Famous Last Words CD (album) cover

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

Supertramp

Crossover Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
1 stars Famous First Dowhfall

As with other groups before and after them, the stratospheric success of their BIA album and its grueling promotional tours brought some friction between the songwriters/creators. Most likely spawned by the hit-making count, now heavily favoring Roger, and the choice of singles brought forward to the public, this album was definitely not a worthy successor to BIA, either saleswise or artistically. Prophetically-titled Famous Last Words, it sounds like it was probably (I'm extrapolating, here) the last Supertramp album, until Davies decided to keep going, once Hodgson was leaving for a solo career. It didn't look like it at the time, but the situation would eventually grow to immense almost-Floydian proportions, as the Waters/Gilmour feud hasn't much to envy the Hodgson/Davies one. Surprisingly enough, the guest list is including the Wilson sisters of Heart fame.

A rather poor album, graced with an almost-prophetic tightrope artwork, this album was also the first try at Supertramp dealing with the videoclip fad and the two or three examples they produced for MTV exposure only dealt them a lack of credibility among many core fans, if not alienation. It didn't help either that the main "hit" It's Raining Again was another whiny/wanker Hodgson melody, like the BIA t/t, Give, Lady and Dreamer, and this time the equally-atrocious C'est Le Bon is in the same area, so that makes two of them. But Davies' attempt at commercial tracks was close to ridicule ? My Kind Of Lady is a bad doo-wop unwilling pastiche (help Frank Zappa ;o)))) and Brown Shoes a clumsy attempt at rock'n roll.

Even the last two numbers can't save this one from sinking, although they are much better than the rest of the album, they only manage to remind you of other albums and makes this one even more horrendous. Indeed, the 6-mins+ Davies-penned Waiting So Long is one of the only track of this album that would find space (as a filler) on any of their previous albums (bar Stamped, of course), but it has its charms, including a certain moodiness (reminding a bit Asylum) and enough musical passages (among which a Hodgson wailing guitar solo) and drama to please progheads. And the Hodgson-penned Don't Leave Me Now (why did you, Roger?) is also a worthy closer (not sure this album deserved one, though), even if it doesn't match its predecessor, but its melancholic ending is pleasant enough.

I suppose that those dumb MTV videoclips did not help me in not-liking this album, despite the last two tracks. Don't get me wrong, this album is not as bad as I might seem to hint at, but compared to previous works, it sucks the bone. Unlike those, this one is depressingly average, which made me get rid of the album quick. No wonder something drastic would happen after such a mediocre album.

Report this review (#27682)
Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I hate disagreeing, but I enjoyed this album. Actually, I have enjoyed it more and more over the years. The only true clunker was their top 40 hit ...Its Raining Again, which is a bit syrupy for my liking. This album is darker in scope overall, which is why that song doesnt belong in this set. This was Roger Hodgesons last go with the band and his influance shows up strongly with ` Bonnie` and `Crazy`.

Darn it all, I liked it.

Report this review (#27683)
Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's not as bad as people would have you believe, but of course it is nowhere near as good as their classic four. "Know Who You Are" is a gorgeous song, a true ballad that the Tramp never bettered, and the other numbers are decent but sound like a band going through the motions. SUPERTRAMP always closes their albums with long mostly-instrumental numbers, too, and "Don't Leave Me Now" carries on this tradition. Pick it up only if you are a hardcore fan or completist.
Report this review (#27685)
Posted Saturday, March 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record has been made after the wonderful "Breakfast in America". Fans expected something great. But the result is a rather disappointing album. The vocals are still excellent like on the previous studio album. IMO there is only one song that is at the level of "Breakfeast in America": it is "it's raining again". The guitar solo on "Waiting so Long" is absolutely amazing. There is still this saloon piano and those saxes, but the compositions seem to have decreased quite a bit in quality and inspiration. The song are not as catchy, and we feel they took it easy. The record is not bad, but SUPERTRAMP did better.
Report this review (#27686)
Posted Sunday, April 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album was not nearly as pitiful as some have suggested. I, infact, have grown to thoroughly enjoy it- track one to track nine. As always, lyrically and instrumentally, Supertramp has compiled a completely clever and brilliant album. Perhaps selected pieces by Bay City Rollers and such, would be a far more appropriate listen to those who found themselves far from impressed, and struggling to find a good, solid reason to listen to this record.
Report this review (#27688)
Posted Wednesday, June 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Supertramp's tellingly titled "Famous Last Words" album was the studio follow-up to their 1979 mega-smash "Breakfast In America." It came three years after "Breakfast" and carried with it a full platter of high expectations and news about the band's internal turmoil. The whole situation was a recipe for disappointment --how do you follow-up a sensation like "Breakfast In America," anyway?-- and "Famous Last Words" wasn't quite strong enough to escape the gravity of the situation. The pop textures of singles "It's Raining Again," "Crazy," and "My Kind Of Lady" didn't have the rock-energized crackle of the previous album. As a result, despite generally strong songs and respectable commercial success, the album never quite received the praise it deserves.

Listening beyond the singles of "Famous Last Words" reveals some truly outstanding tunes: the stark, plaintive yearning of "Know Who You Are"; the heartbreaking "C'Est Le Bon"; the edgy, screaming undercurrents of the dark "Waiting So Long"; and the glorious, melancholy art-pop of album-closer "Don't Leave Me Now." Although the set is a bit inconsistent, falling several killer cuts short of the best 'Tramp albums, it is still a worthy release from one of the all-time great art-pop bands, essential for fans and thoroughly enjoyable for even casual listeners.

As if the titles of the album and its finale weren't poignant enough, after "Famous Last Words," Supertramp lost a major part of their voice with the departure of Roger Hodgson, who sang many of the band's biggest hits ("Give A Little Bit," "The Logical Song," "Take The Long Way Home," "It's Raining Again," etc.). This excellent album remains the final statement of the classic 'Tramp lineup, and with the possible exception of the gritty, dark "Brother Where You Bound," it is substantially better than anything Supertramp has released since.

The fine remastering on this newly released reissue makes some difference in its impact, but for most fans, it is not clear that the improved sonics merit upgrading one's original CD to this new version. There are no bonus tracks on this reissue.

Report this review (#27689)
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Cutting the chord

Noted primarily for the hit single "It's raining again", "Famous last words" was the last album by Supertramp on which Roger Hodgson performed. Its relative lack of success is hard to explain, but may have been a contributing factor in Hodgson's departure. Whether the title itself is a deliberate reflection of what was about to happen, or nothing more than an unfortunate co-incidence, is open to speculation. The sleeve image of a trapeze wire being cut does however add to the evidence that it may already have been known within the band that this would be Hodgson's swansong. Hodgson is dominant throughout the album, his distinctive vocals enhancing most of the tracks (Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart are listed as guest vocalists). Instrumentally, there are some great moments, such as the sax solo on "My kind of lady", the rock guitar on "Waiting so long", and the softer lead guitar on "Don't leave me now".

The tracks on side one of the album are generally shorter and more basic. Side two allows the band to stretch themselves more, away from the singles orientated music they had been moving towards on albums such as "Breakfast in America".

"Famous last words" was a fine offering from the band, with many strong tracks. It deserved far greater success than it ultimately achieved.

Report this review (#27690)
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Good is a decent adjective for Famous Last words. Nothing great on here, tons of middle of the road fare and Hodgson really irritated me on this album. To be brutally honest I do not think Supertramp would have survived with Roger Hodgson's musical evolution after this and IMHO he had already began to drag the group down in one form or another.His daprture then was all for the better because the four studio works released since this have ranged from good to excellent. Highlight on here would have to be ' Don't leave me now' , ' Put on your old Brown Shoes' and ' Waiting so long'. ' My kind of Lady' works commercially but nothing could sink as low as ' Crazy' and ' It's raining again'. Hai Hai perhaps!!
Report this review (#27691)
Posted Thursday, September 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Previous reviewers think that the band knew that this was their last album with Roger Hodgson. I read in some good websites dedicated to Supertramp (their official website isn`t interesting for me because they only announce their new albums there and how to buy them!) that the band knew that this album was their last with Hodgson, because he said during the recording sessions that he was going to leave the band after the tour for this album. I read some concerts reviews from 1982-83 and in these reviews the reviewers wrote that Hodgson was announcing in the concerts in that tour that he was going to leave the band after the tour.So, it seems to me that the title and the cover of the album are about Hodgson leaving the band. It seems that the rest of the band decided to continue without him even before this album was released. For the first time in a Supertramp`s album with Hodgson, the songwriting credits are "Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson", but with the names of the songwriters printed in different colours and this happens in the lyrics printed in the inner sleeve, too, maybe to make clear who wrote which song. Hodgson composed five songs alone ("Crazy", "It`s Raining again", "Know Who You Are", "C`est le Bon" "Don`t Leave Me now"), and Davies four ("Put On Your Old Brown Shoes", "Bonnie", "My Kind of Lady" and "Waiting So Long"). It seems that Hodgson wasn`t happy with the songwriting credits anymore as being by "Davies/Hodgson", because he wrote more songs for other albums than Davies, with the exception of the "Breakfast in America" and "Crime of the Century" albums in which the songwriting was equal by both musicians. I bought this album in December 1982. It is a "sad album", really,as most of the songs are sad. "Crazy" has a very good piano by Hodgson and a great sax solo by Helliwell. "Put On Your Old Brown Shoes" is a Blues, with an Harmonica played by Davies and with the Wilson sisters (from the band called "Heart") in backing vocals. "It`s Raining Again" is a Pop song which I like, and it has a Video which I saw on T.V. once in 1983. "Bonnie" is a song about a fan of an actress and how this fan loves her and wants to know her. This is one of my favourite songs of this album. Helliwell is credited with playing keyboards in this album (for the first and only time in all Supertamp`s discography!), something he did on tours and maybe in previous albums too. This song doesn`t have wind instruments, so I think that Helliwell played keyboards in this song. "Know Who You Are" is a "real" solo song by Hodgson, with very good lyrics. He plays acoustic guitar and sings, with a "sad" string arrangement by Richard Hewson (who also worked with the band in the "Crime..." and "Crisis?..." albums, and also with The Beatles in the Phil Spector version of the "Let It Be" album). "My Kind of Lady" is a good song, too, with a great sax solo and very good keyboard arrangements. This song also has a Video which I have never seen. My favourite song in this album is "C`est Le Bon", another "sad song" with a great clarinet (is it a clarinet?) solo by Helliwell and with the Wilson sisters again on backing vocals. It also has interesting lyrics, at least for me:"I never wanted the responsibility/I still remember what they tried to make of me/they used to wonder why/they couldn`t get through to me/`cause all that I had was this music a-coming to me/and all that I had was this rhythm a-running through me...". This section of the lyrics means to me that some people who wants to be musicians and work as musicians have "hard times" to explain to their families and to the general society that they don`t want to "work in a factory" or to study more "Conventional" careers to survive. They want to work and live as musicians despite having sometimes hard times to survive. Hodgson seems to ask himself in this song what is the next thing to do in his life after leaving the band, but he knows that he still has "this music" in him,something that he still enjoys. Excellent song. The next songs are the most sad of this album, and are the songs which I don`t like to listen very often, really. "Waiting So Long" has a very good lead guitar but sad lyrics. "Don`t Leave Me Now" has a good piano section, backing vocals by Claire Diament, a very good lead guitar, and very good drums. But it closes the album in a sad mood, really. I read some interviews done separately with Davies and Hodgson in the 90s, and they were asked about a "reunion" of the classic line-up of Supetramp. Both said that in 1992-93 they tried to work together again, but that Hodgson wanted separated songwriting credits and a new manager, because he didn`t want the band to being managed by Davies`wife. Davies didn`t agree, so Supertramp appeared again in 1996- 97 to record a new album ("Some things never change") without Hodgson, and also without Dougie Thomson, who said in other interviews in the 90s that he wasn`t happy in the 80s playing Hodgson`s songs without him in the band, so he wasn`t invited by Davies to the new Supertramp line-up of 1996-97, but that he and Helliwell played some concerts with Hodgson in 1996-97. Hodgson is still in good terms with Helliwell, Thomson and Siebenberg, but not with Davies. But he mentioned in one of those 90s interviews that he went to see the band in concert once during the 1997 tour, and that he liked the new music of the band, but that he didn`t enjoy seeing the band playing his songs without him.
Report this review (#27692)
Posted Friday, November 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After their 1979 commercial peak with "Breakfast In America", Supertramp returned with "...Famous Last Words..." in 1982, A darker and slightly more melancholic release. You can hear that the band isn't as happy anymore, mainly because that Vocalist/Guitarist/Keyboardist Roger Hodgson wasn't quite satisfyed with the band at that time, which resulted his departure from the band in 1983. The opener, "Crazy" is a great tune, with very catchy verses and chours and is among the best tracks here. "Know Who You Are" is a beautiful and sad acoustic ballad by Hodgson which nearly brings me to tears everytime I hear it. But the peak of this album is the two last tracks, which are among Supertramp's best tracks from the 80's!

The rest is good, only dragged down by "It's Raining Again", which is rather irretating!

This one is mostly for fans though. Though you could always give it a try if you have heard some of their other albums. Me personally, give it 4 stars. Very good album, imo.

Report this review (#27693)
Posted Saturday, December 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars You would think that Rodger Hodgson would want to go out with a bang before his solo career began but it didn't happen, instead a hit single is what came of this album and that was the extent of this effort. "It's Raining Again" was a sleek pop production with all the hooks. No doubt it is one of the bands most memorable songs, alas this is surely not one their better albums. They abandoned their progressive sound for a straight-ahead, perhaps over produced, pop and rock format. This album has some strengths but very few, hardly anything nearly as consistent as previous studio efforts.
Report this review (#27694)
Posted Thursday, February 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars i absolutly liked this album for : c'est le bon : so great song , beautiful clarinet solo , nice verse, incredible bridge , and what a 12 strings nice guitar sound !!

know who you are : IDEM, beautiful guitar sound, nice lyrics , nice sing...

waitin so long, a "tango -rock" (!!) song, with an incredible guitar solo at the end.

only for these 3 titles this album is a must !

Report this review (#27695)
Posted Monday, April 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars (3,5*) Supertramp's best album is for me, like most listeners, unquestionably Crime of the Century. After that it's quite hard to put them in order. I think their most succesful(?) Breakfast in America is slightly disappointing in the use of keyboards and this one often unjustly disliked. I may even prefer this one if they are compared song-to-song. 'Crazy' is better than 'Gone Hollywood'. 'It's Raining Again' is nicer than 'Goodbye Stranger' etc. Both albums have some uninteresting songs - maybe less in BIA, that's true. But if 'Child of Vision' is supposed to be BIA's grand finale, it has 2 superior counterparts here: 'Waiting So Long' and 'Don't Leave Me Now'. Both are among the strongest and most moving Supertramp songs.

I also like 'Know Who You Are' in its sad simplicity (compare 'Two of Us' in Crisis? What Crisis?). The band may have been about to break already but not a bad swansong of the fruitful Hodgson-Davies partnership. Sad that neither of them have been able to keep that high standard on their own (I don't now remember if Davies have had writing partners but the newer Supertramp albums haven't got my interest, and Hodgson's Hai Hai is unbeliavably bad album).

Report this review (#50081)
Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars As a big Supertramp fan I have waited so long for this album back in 1982. But I remember how dissapointed I was after listening several times to this album. Today I still got the same opinion. At first I thougt "don't leave me now" was a masterpiece but after a view listens I understand it is a bit of a poor song if you look at it musically. And so is the rest of this album, I think Roger Hodgson and the rest of the band has allready decided to go their own way. I miss the chemics between Rodger Hodgson and Rick Davies and the rest of the band as we used to hear on previous albums. Maybe is "It's raining again" the worst song they have ever made so far but that is my opinion for two decades now.
Report this review (#50137)
Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Anything featuring the Wilson sisters can't be all bad but for me the album is let down by the awful It's raining again which has to be one of my top 10 all time irritating tracks. Away from that there is some good music in places although its certainly no 'Crime of the Century'. 5/10 but I'll round it up to 3 stars.
Report this review (#50256)
Posted Thursday, October 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hang-over & Break-up

How do you follow-up the masterpiece "Breakfast in America"?? The answer was you couldn't have complete song-writing collaboration and unision like Supertramp enjoyed in BIA. The partnership of Rodger Hodgson and Rick Davies was pulling in all directions in this album.

It's a bit self-indulgent as they knew they were breakin up, with "Oh no, it's raining again Too bad I'm losing a friend." and ending the album with "Don't leave me now".

"It's Raining Again" is Hodgson's tribute to his old pals in a catchy pop tune, that doesnt fit in "musically" with the rest of the album's darker tunes, even if the sentiment is there.

Don't know why this song is so hated by reviewers, its a throwback to the BIA thrilling saxophone solo, and lyrical words....Maybe reviewers are thrown off by the nursery rhyme at the end; the childlike innocence is all but gone from the band now.

I guess at some point, progressive rock wanted its prodigal son to fail, and pop needed to distance itself.

Not as good as BIA but now as bad as people think.

4.5/5 stars

Report this review (#67122)
Posted Saturday, January 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
5 stars Some of the greatest lineups in progressive music were undone in the 1980s by the personal and creative upheaval that characterized the early part of that decade. Unfortunately Supertramp was no exception. 'Famous Last Words' marked the departure of founding member Roger Hodgson and the dissolution of one of the truly memorable songwriting duos of modern music in Hodgson and Rick Davies. The split would leave Davies as the lone original member as well as the de facto (and legal) steward of the band's future direction. Hodgson would launch a solo career. Neither would achieve the kind of commercial or creative success that Supertramp did in the 1970s.

I got into Supertramp with 'Even in the Quietest Moments' and quickly discovered the much more dazzling 'Crime of the Century'. When 'Breakfast in America' released in 1979 I was swept up with the millions of other who gravitated to the band's unique blend of jazz, pop, nostalgia and brilliant songwriting as the album went quadrillion˛-platinum or whatever it ended up selling. Three years later I still played the record regularly and several of the hits were still on the radio, but since the band didn't tour very heavily across the heart of America they weren't on my radar all that much.

Then out of nowhere comes "?famous last words?", and of course my curiosity was piqued. What had the boys come up with this time? Well, not more of the same, I can assure you of that. There is plenty of symbolism in this album that signals the pending breakup, and the overall mood is rather resigned and depressing. First is the cover itself, a picture of a circus performer on a tightrope looking nervously over his shoulder as an ominous hand reaches out to sever the rope with a huge pair of scissors. The album title suggests Hodgson and Davies knew people like me would be writing wistful memorials long after the band itself was no more. The splitting of songwriting credits to clearly distinguish between those of Hodgson and those of Davies was a first for the band; on previous albums, the credits were always shared in one way or another. The inside liner notes even have the lyrics color-coded to distinguish between the two writers. Inside the sleeve a picture of the band shows the five members, none smiling, and all tip-toeing nervously across their separate tightropes. And the lyrics nearly all reflect on watershed points within personal relationships in one way or another. There was no question whatsoever that this was the swan song for Supertramp, and that the breakup was not all smiles and hugs.

If you can get past the mildly depressing nature of the packaging though, there is actually some pretty good music here. Perhaps also symbolic, the track list both begins and ends with songs written by Hodgson. And knowing Hodgson's flair for drama, I think it's also intentional that the album begins on a pensive high note with "Crazy":

"Here's little song to make you feel good, put a little light in your day; these are crazy times, and it's all been getting pretty serious. Here's a little song to make you feel right, send the blues away; well it's a crazy game, tell me who's to blame ? I'm pretty curious";

And ends with the sad and melancholy "Don't Leave Me Now":

"Don't leave me now, leave me holding an empty heart. As the curtains start to fall? all alone in this crazy world, when I'm old and cold and grey and time is gone".

Pain is just a reminder that you're alive, I suppose.

"Crazy" is a typical opening number for the band, a peppy tempo with lots of piano, saxophone highlights and a short sax solo all wrapped up in Hodgson's slightly-mad-Englishman vocals, with complementary backing by Davies. In keeping with the trend in some of the band's other albums, the presence of Hodgson's guitar is secondary to the keyboards.

Davies wrote "Put on Your Old Brown Shoes", a kind of retro jazzy/blues number with what sounds like alto sax and an almost ragtime vibe to the piano. The Wilson sisters of Heart provide backing vocals, and overall this is not unlike some of the music on their 'Private Auditions' album of the same period. The lyrics are in keeping with the general breakup theme of the album, accented by a nice piano/sax extended instrumental passage in the middle of the song:

"You and me, we're helpless can't you see ? we've got to get away, get away. Got to move on, catch the next train and we'll be gone;

And the rest of our lives we'll be free".

Hodgson serves up one of his glossy pure-pop tunes with "It's Raining Again", which turned out to be another huge hit for the band. This is one of those songs you either love or hate, and I choose to love it. Like "Dreamer" or "The Logical Song" these are bitingly sarcastic lyrics set to an upbeat, almost danceable rhythm, and some of the most haunting saxophone work John Helliwell has ever done:

"It's raining again, you know it's hard to pretend. Oh no, it's raining again, too bad I'm losing a friend".

The children's chorus ending of nursery rhyme lyrics is a bit cheesy and self-indulgent on Hodgson's part, but clearly the guy was dealing with some pretty raw emotions at the time and this is how he often expressed those feelings in his music. The song contains one of the most striking lyrical passages Hodgson ever put on paper, in my opinion:

"You're old enough some people say, to read the signs and walk away. It's only time that heals the pain, and makes the sun come out again".

I still can't hear that passage even today without blinking back a few tears.

I personally think that "Bonnie" is a highly symbolic work by Davies to describe the intensely personal relationship between him and Hodgson. The lyrics read like the story of an obsessed fan of an old-time movie star who is longing to get closer to her, but I believe it also describes how Davies may have felt about Hodgson at one time.

Hodgson follows that one with the most achingly personal lament he ever penned ? "Know Who You Are". This is a mostly acoustic number with Hodgson strumming guitar and singing in a halting, pensive mood, and I can't listen to it without feeling like a gawking intruder into an intensely personal moment for Hodgson:

"Know who you are? there's a new song inside you. Weep if you can? let the tears fall behind you".

Davies counters with another retro-sounding light jazzy number, "My Kind of Lady". By now the stylistically different directions Hodgson and Davies were pursuing was becoming apparent. For me this is the weakest track on the album, with 50's-sounding backing vocals, rather tepid piano, and overall just a bit of unenthusiastic, plodding tempo. Perhaps part of the reason it fell flat was that neither Hodgson nor Davies were very enthusiastic about recording it.

This sets up one of the band's strongest album finishes though, with the remaining three tracks all being complex and highly memorable. Hodgson's "C'est le bon" is something of an autobiography, with gorgeous acoustic guitar accented by clarinet while Hodgson chants about having a heart full of music that just has to get out, regardless of the consequences. The Wilson sisters add touching backing vocals to give the song a timeless feel, making it one of the great forgotten Supertramp classics.

Davies' strongest work follows his weakest one with the horn-driven "Waiting So Long". Here again the listener cannot escape the tension in the band, with lyrics that are both biting and sad: "Did you get all you want? Did we see the whole show? So where's all the fun that we used to know? As the memories fade way out of view, I'd love those old days to come back to you". Hodgson offers his strongest guitar work on the album, heavy and brooding but full of life at the same time.

The album closes with the final emotional cry from Hodgson, the deeply resigned soul- sigh in "Don't Leave Me Now". Musically this is nothing new from the band ? melodic and beautiful piano and thoughtful saxophone, very little guitar, and the little-known Claire Diament with some very pleasant backing vocals. But the message is clear in the lyrics, and with the end of the album also comes the end of the band, at least as we all knew and loved them:

"Don't leave me now, leave me out with nowhere to go. As the shadows start to fall ?

Don't leave me now".

In some ways I see this album as a soundtrack to the end of an age, and a symbol of the much broader dissolution of a decade of wonderful music, incredible artistic creativity, and pleasant memories. It's a stark contrast to the band's 'Breakfast in America' peak, but also an incredibly poignant and personal look inside the souls of one of the great musical icons of an eclectic and artistic generation.

It pains me to listen to this album, especially today as those of us who came out of that generation and those times are now adults, and we are just expected to deal with some of the same kinds of heavy, somber emotions and complex relationships that once seemed so simple and straightforward. But it is also a reminder that once you get past all the extraneous trappings, life is really all about our relationships with each other. Hodgson and Davies understood that, probably still do today. And I cherish the many songs where they expressed this and shared their emotions with us willing listeners. I am confident I am a better man for it. Hopefully those who listen to this music today and contemplate all the layers of meaning it holds for our personal interactions will someday feel the same way.

peace

Report this review (#88231)
Posted Saturday, August 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Compared to Breakfast in America, Even in the quietest moments, Crisis- what crisis, Crime of the Century, this album is slightly weak-- but not very weak. Its certainly way too stronger than Indelibly Stamped and definitely the best last album of this great band. Off course if Roger Hodgeson continued, this statement would have been different. The fact is, after this album-- Supertramp is dead to me because of Roger's departure. I have no comments about Rick's works except that most of his work sucks (other than those in Crime of the century). The opening track is not a great tune, but its not only lively, it has a great lyrics, plus an ever-soothing voice. We all know its Raining Again was a big radio hit and this song is still retro-popular. Know Who You Are and C'Est le Bon share the same style, built around acoustic guitar. Don't Leave Me Now is Roger's last Piano-riff song, very melodious and nice. Its an irony that after this song, Roger left the band himself.
Report this review (#99882)
Posted Wednesday, November 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars After their quite pop album "Breakfast", the Tramp needed a three years break to produce a new studio album.

With the opener "Crazy" one understands that the pop orientation will be deeply investigated again (too much to my taste). It is not a bad song as such but not a Tramp classic either.

The problem with this album is that the band is trying (but fails) to reproduce some of their early work. This one lacks in subtlety, harmony and genious which made them famous (they have lost their music if not their words...).

"Put on Your Old Brown Shoes" is a very good example; somewhere reminiscent of "Blody Well Right" but inferior.

"It's Raining Again" reminds us of "Give a Little Bit" but is not on par. And so on. It sounds as if a cover band was playing Supertramp.

This album it not really bad, but still the descent in quality goes on ...("Know Who You Are" being the perfect illustration : an insipid accoustic ballad).

The longest track of the album " Waiting so Long" written by Davies is the best one of the album (but it's the eighth track !).

Globally, on this effort, Davies'compositions are stronger than Hodgson ones. Is this a sign for the things to come ?

It is definitely not a must own record (even for fans). Two stars.

Report this review (#111670)
Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Last words indeed

Between two fantastic albums Supertramp put out this effort. Similar in sound to their previous work, Breakfast In America this album offers up lush soundscapes with a good variety of songs to keep attention spans, but something is not right. Clearly, tension within the band was starting to grind on the members as was trying to follow up a number of overly successful previous albums and the band was rapidly searching for inspiration. Which you'd think that the boys would have after 3 years break from their Breakfast, but apparently not. No, instead we have a collection of songs that all miss their mark in some way or another.

Opening with Crazy there's still some signs of life from the band. Moody and well performed this is one of the standouts on the album, even if the repetition of Crazy... at the end of the track is a bit... off. But then it all goes somewhere completely else. Put On Your Old Brown Shoes is a boppy 50s sounding song which simply does not work well. Davies's performance does little to save the track as does the sax solo in the middle. Know Who You Are is a fairly pleasant song which unfortunately doesn't go anywhere and simply meanders around until it ends, although it is saved a bit by Hodgeson's vocals near the end. My Kind Of Lady is kind of in the same vein as the second track (50s boppy) and is once again mostly forgettable.

But at the point of absolute low we have the ''hit'' It's Raining Again . This upbeat and annoying song is the kind of thing that no prog-head will find themselves enjoying unless they really really like the band. Jumpy and pure pop (not the usual dark-pop that the 'Tramp produces so well) this one is especially brought down by the truly irritating end of the song which has a chorus of children repeating ''It's raining, it's pouring'' and so on. A track best skipped.

Now don't be totally fooled, this album has a couple very good songs on it. C'est La Bon offers a decent track with some good melodies by Hodgeson at the chorus, and Bonnie sounds like something from their Crime days with Davies at the vocal helm bringing the song into more dark territories. Waiting So Long is a song coming into the same grounds with it's dark tones and Don't Leave Me Now does the same with some very excellent parts to become the haunting standout of the album.

A potentially good album with a number of flaws. Blame the 80s, but the Tramp really missed a step here. Luckily, their next album would turn out to be utterly fantastic... but Hodgeson would leave after this one, making the band generally less attractive to some. This one is better for fans, who may find a lot of things to like about it as there's many good moments here. However, those who don't feel the need to buy a lot of Supertramp should just avoid this one. 2 stars -- good for fans, not so much for everyone else.

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Posted Saturday, April 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Nothing lasts forever, and even since the not so quiet moments of the pre-production process for the "Breakfast in America" album, this universal rule was on the brink of actual application for the Hodgson-Davies partnership/complicity. By the time the late 70s and early 80s were reshaping the rules for disseminating music, Supertramp had joyously refashioned their signature sound with patent AOR flourishes and a melodic drive that felt quite comfortable in its formulaic self-indulgence. This is true despite the fact that their amazing live album "Paris" comprised a repertoire dominantly devoted to the band's historical art-rock leanings. But no, the AOR orientations prevailed for the germination, recording and production of "... Famous Last Words...", Supertramp's last album with Roger Hodgson as a band member. Not unlike the "Breakfast" album, this is a musical work somewhat focused on the projection of hit singles and palatable songs, yet still containing pieces in which the band pursues more elaborated musical frameworks. A good yet uneven art-rock album, whose better moments are sure to please the friendly prog listener. 'Crazy' kicks off the album with energy and catchiness: the melodic line is easily memorable, so it bears a commercial potential indeed, but you can tell that the arrangements are clever and the performances are tighter than in your usual pop-rock hit single. This was actually the album's third single, and IMHO, this was the one that deserved more attention than the previous two did: Hodgson-penned 'It's Raining Again' and Davies-penned 'My Kind of Lady' are well constructed songs that are obviously radio-friendly. The Hodgson one follows in many ways the pattern of 'The Logical Song' but with a kinder motif (even the powerful sax solos by Halliwell and melodica solo by Davies echo the sugary moods provided by the vocal lines and the basic piano chords), while the Davies one is a relatively unsubstantial semi-ballad on a blues tempo, very Broadway, kind, gentle, but as I said, unsubstantial. A bit more powerful but also unsubstantial is 'Put On Your Old Brown Shoes', a song that doesn't do real justice to the Rick-side of Supertramp. 'Bonnie' does, although its overall arrangements and mood make it sound like a lost Billy Joel's song that didn't make it to one of his classic albums. This is, in itself, a clever "love song" in which one sentence from the lyrics reveals the real intentions behind the guy's apparent affection for his lady. Other Hodgson numbers are also formulaic under his acoustic spiritually-driven pattern - 'Know Who You Are' and 'C'est Le Bon'. Both are quite pleasant to me (with the former featuring delicious sting arrangements), but on the other hand, they don't seem to provide something particularly invigorating in the band's repertoire. The album's brightest moments are comprised in the last two tracks. Davies' 'Waiting So Long' refurbishes the standard of 'From Now On' and takes it to a more furious level, of course, in a constrained fashion much in tune with what Supertramp is all about at its best. The epic development of this song can also be connected with the classic 'Rudy' (arguably, the best Davies-written piece ever). The guitar solo is quite Gilmouresque, while the orchestrated keyboards and rhythm section bear a genuine progressive feel. Hodgson's 'Don't Leave Me Now' closes down the album with flying colors. Despite its pessimistic lyrics about solitude and fear of loneliness, this song displays a genuine sense of power. Halliwell's sax deliveries and Siebenberg's drumming are crucial to this factor, no doubt about it: but also, there is the fact that Hodgson was providing his last guitar solo ever in a Supertramp item, and he delivers with passion and strength. The ethereal fade- out, filled with soft female vocalizations and typical Davies harmonica lines, manages to bring an excellent ending for an album that is only very good in general terms.
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Posted Thursday, September 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars How fickle the madding crowd can be. A mere three years after launching the wildly successful bombshell that was 1979's "Breakfast in America," (the album that sat at the number one position for weeks on end and spawned four top twenty hit singles still spinning in heavy rotation on classic rock radio stations three decades later) Supertramp released ".Famous Last Words" and the public shrugged. Despite rising to the #5 position on the album charts it came and went in a flash before drifting into anonymity. Having never heard it myself I was somewhat reticent to add it to my crossover prog collection but now that I've repeatedly listened to it for months I'm pleased to report that I think it's gotten a bum rap that it doesn't deserve. In fact, it's pretty dern good and beats the britches off of the higher-rated but rather boring "Crisis, What Crisis?"

Since Roger Hodgson bid the band adieu shortly after this record hit the stores it's not surprising to find the personality clashes and general turmoil that existed in the group surfacing in the writing of he and cohort Rick Davies. Roger tap-dancing into the wings after 13 years of partnership with Rick doesn't come as much of a shock at all. Actually, that kind of longevity is, in and of itself, amazing. But the "official" reason given for the split is that their wives didn't get along. Huh? Excuse me, but WTF? Are you pulling our collective prog leg? One of the most heralded writing duos of the 70s parted ways because the company Christmas party was awkward? Why not just tell the ladies that if they can't play nice they're forever banned from the rehearsal and studio sessions? Sounds pretty ticky-tacky and childish if you ask me. Still, despite the ridiculous soap opera backdrop, they managed to put together a collage of songs worthy of your attention.

By the time the first few notes enter your ear canals you'll know this is the one and only Supertramp. Their unique sound is unmistakable and "Crazy" is a prime example of their inimitable style. It's a well- written tune based on pounding piano chords, John Helliwell's lively saxophone and Hodgson's soaring soprano voice but, at the same time, the lyrics betray the tension within. "These are crazy times," Roger sings, "and it's all been getting pretty serious..." I especially like the way they allow the "crazy" refrain at the end to play itself out and not cut it short for the sake of radio friendliness. The bluesy, Wurlitzer piano-dominated sway of "Put on Your Old Brown Shoes" instantly identifies it as one of Davies' lite-rock compositions and, as such, one shouldn't really expect any surprises. Helliwell tactfully avoids overplaying during his sax solo and the tight horn/guitar riffs that color the song towards the end are delightful. I get the feeling that Rick is serenading the soon-to-be-departed with resigned lines like "you know you paid your dues/did all you could/time to move on/no more to say."

According to reputable sources "It's Raining Again" climbed up to the #11 spot on the Top 40 but it also did a splendid job of avoiding being played on the stations I was listening to at the time. Now that I've become acquainted with this catchy little ditty I'm confused as to why the great unwashed masses didn't embrace it the same way they did, say, "The Logical Song." It's just as memorable and follows the same poppish formula but it faded from view as quickly as the LP did. Of course, 1982 was the dawning age of the damned MTV virus and perhaps the lack of a "groovy" video clip retarded its growth (not to mention its dubious use of the made-up-in-order-to-complete-a-rhyme word uptighter.) "You're old enough some people say/to read the signs and walk away/it's only time that heals the pain/and makes the sun come out again." Roger sings, possibly to himself. "Bonnie" (Come on, Rick, you couldn't pick a classier name than that?) is next and if you're patient enough to get through its initial puppy-love schmaltziness you'll be rewarded with a transcendent, symphonic prog movement featuring an infectious melody flowing over deep synthesized strings that is heavenly. I adore the acoustic piano sound producer Peter Henderson and his engineering crew procure throughout the piece.

Another identifiable trait of the Supertramp modus operandi surfaces when Hodgson straps on his 12- string acoustic guitar for "Know Who You Are" and delivers an airy, delicate performance sans drums with a haunting melody that sorta reminds me of Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade." Richard Newson's sparse string arrangement adds a simple grace to the subtlety of the piece. Unfortunately, that quiet serenity is rudely interrupted by the pseudo doo-wop of "My Kind of Lady," the only throwaway track on the album. Okay, it's not horrific but it's definitely not my style and it resides miles away from Progland. Roger gets the 'Tramp train back on the rails with another 12-string extravaganza, the charming "C'est Le Bon." John's fluid clarinet and Dougie Thompson's easy-to- overlook-but-supremely-tasteful bass lines contribute to the number's allure as this one slowly builds to a full, towering chorus. Hodgson's poignant lyrics ring true for every musician who's had to swim against the current just to follow his artistic calling. "I never knew what a man was supposed to be/I never wanted the responsibility/I still remember what they tried to make of me/they used to wonder why they couldn't get through to me/'cause all that I had was this music/a-coming to me/and all that I had was this rhythm/a-coming through me." he sings.

Supertramp's prog leanings are very apparent on the last two cuts. "Waiting So Long" has a basic-yet- effective vocal/piano intro, then heavy accents add drama and gravity to the proceedings. The song utilizes a layer-by-layer construction that eventually leads to one of Roger's most emotional electric guitar rides ever and a menacing, thunder-in-the-distance finale. You can detect a palpable sorrow in Davies' voice. "Did you get all you want?/Did we see the whole show?/so where's all the fun/that we used to know?/as the memories fade/way out of view/I'd love those old days/to come back to you..." he laments, "But the blindness goes on, the blindness goes on..." The album ends with the equally despairing but nonetheless appropriate "Don't Leave Me Now." The stillness of the introduction is broken abruptly by strong, angry piano chords ala "Crime of the Century" and Helliwell's soulful saxophone wailing away. The heartbreaking words speak for themselves. "Don't leave me now/all alone in this crazy world/when I'm old and cold and grey/and the time is gone." Hodgson cries. As they wisely allow the tune to wander without hurry down its own lonely road you'll hear nostalgic strains of the harmonica from "School" wafting in the breeze. It's a classy touch. Accompanied only by funeral-like drums the music slowly disappears over the far horizon like a cemetery-bound procession mourning the death of a loved one.

Even if you're no more than a casual fan of Supertramp I advise you to give ".Famous Last Words" a fighting chance. You'll like it. It's not as accessible and internationally popular as its famous predecessor but few albums are. Actually, in a prog sense, it's more akin to "Even in the Quietest Moments." so its appeal to those who lean in that direction should be obvious. There's a lot here to enjoy. 3.6 stars.

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Posted Sunday, February 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars While you can't flash a vinyl in the toillette you can use it as a dart pointer-mark the songs between the pauses...1, 5, 10, 12, 20 and have fun... but that's another story and surely not concerning this unfairly judged record which was released in this so strange and fluidic decade such as the 80's. I believe, many of us who were growing up as teenagers at the 80's can now judge and see things more clearly and revise for many of the albums of that decade which was as i have said before a difficult season for rock music in general...anyway... First let straight up things-Supertramp were never a classic progressive rock band-they played pop and rock and blues music and sometimes they had some strong or lesser strong prog leanings to their music, so we can not accuse them of being poppish- i can easily say that i admire the way Supertramp were creating this specific pop music. Famous Last Words is one of those albums with a lost potential of being another classic, but the two geniouses of the band were collided and the sense of partition and antagonism between them is very obvious, a fact that derailed this album from being another Breakfast In America. We have two great songs here, first is Waiting So long with its dark and bitter atmosphere closing with an exceptional electric guitar solo and Don't Leave Me Now with its melancoly fade out drumming . Quite close come My Kind Of Lady where mr Helliwell really shines with his excellent sax soloing, Crazy and It's Raining Again with its classic Hodgsonian flavour and last but not least is Bonnie. It's not really a full four star album but it is surely a full three...i will give four in favour of the generally unfairly judgement for so many albums of the 80's...
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Posted Monday, June 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Famous Last Songs by Supertramp

Supertramp with Famous Last Words continued with the clever-pop style Breakfast in America presented and succeeded with. However, Famous Last Words was definitely not in the heights of it's predecessor either in the song-writing or in comercial success, however we're not interested in the later, so let's focus on the former:

Like The Final Cut by Pink Floyd presented a very dark feel due to Roger Waters' domination over the band, with this release of Supertramp something similar was happening(even the year was close, this being from 1982 and Floyd's from 1983!), though neither Roger nor Rick dominated in the end, just both egos joined to create a blue pop record with some up's and downs, which after this album was done Roger left in pursue of his solo career just like Roger(Waters) did after releasing The Final Cut. Both bands continued without *one of their* essential song-writers, though showed vastly different styles to what they had been doing, Pink Floyd with Gilmour opened up a bit to new styles and contemporary production, while Supertramp with Rick developed Rick's roots, Blues with some Jazzy leanings.

''But is Famous Last Words a good sad pop record or a bad one?'' you may be questioning yourself. Before knowing my opinion, you must know that I really enjoy well-thought catchy pop songs. Once knowing that, I'll say that, yes, this is one good moody pop album while somewhat a copy of Breakfast in America in moments, Famous Last Words still can be differentiated from Breakfast in America since the later mainly based it's songs on Supertramp's classic keyboard sound, while this one(Famous Last Words) barely uses it, while replacing it with either piano or some nice simple organ.

As a conclusion, Famous Last Words is by no means Supertramp's strongest effort either in the Pop scenario or Prog scenario, but still it's a well done continuation to the style Breakfast in America offered in such a lovely way. Fans of either Breakfast in America or Supertramp in general will find this album no less than good for their own standards.

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Posted Thursday, October 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well, this album is a problem to me. I really like it but I know that is almost pure pop rock. The prog feel is almost completely disappeared here. From Even in the quietests moments the prog sound of Supertramp was always downhill, until they returned with Brother where you bound.

The Hodgson tracks: Crazy is a good pop song with some strenght. It`s raining again is extremely pop. Very catchy but too much commercial, and tired me with the time. Know who you are is the typical Hodgson annoying ballad, too much humdrum. Ces't le bon is a good ballad based on acoustic guitars, but not more than this. Don't leave me now is the best Hodgson track of the album. Not prog but with some prog feel.

The Davies tracks: Put on your old brown shoes is a jazzy pop track. I like it much. Bonnie is a ballad far better than the Hodgson ones. My kind of lady is a track in the way of Goodbye stranger but more commercial. A good track that never tires me. The sax solo at the end is outstanding. Waiting so long: if there is some prog elements in the album, they are in this song. An agressive number with some instrumentation.

As an average is a good album but not essential.

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Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars What a kind of disappointing album ! My second two stars rating, but the first one given without any internal conflict !

Crime Of The Century days had vanished in the past. Poppy approach are strong than ever. But if this strategy worked well for Breakfast in America, what worked wrong here ?

When an album like Breakfast in America get a good level of acceptance in proggy ears, it is not due to band´s history and skills, but mainly due to the quality of involved songs. BiA is a strong album because it has songs crafted deeply well, no matter if they are too poppy or not. Unfortunately for proggy lovers, most of songs inserted in Famous Last Words have poor quality here. What we have are many easy listening tunes, some others melancholically boring; it seems that Rick and Roger lacked good inspirations here required for performing their compositions in their traditional level.

One more comment may be relevant for this album. The two last songs, Waiting So Long and Don´t Leave Me Now , could be properly placed in any of Supertramp´s best efforts. Even in Crime Of The Century they wouldn´t be out of order. But IMHO it only decreases quality of Famous Last Words. It seems to me that Rick&Roger have made a kind of joke, saying ok, this is pop, but we still know how to rock if we want. To my great disappointment, it seems they didn´t want. Two stars only.

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Posted Sunday, December 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars It almost seems to me that this album was made for contractual obligations. Roger Hodgson had already let the rest of the band know that he was leaving. And the group, on the whole, seems tired and out of ideas.

The majority of the album is made up of simple pop songs. And unless I'm reading too much into it, more than a few of the lyrics have Hodgson and Rick Davies writing about the breakup of the band.

This may sound like it could be a powerful album, but it's just not so. Despite a few fair songs, most notable Bonnie and Waiting So Long, the album is just tedious. And the lyrics, personal as they may be for the two songwriters, sometimes come across as petty sniping.

The one hit from the album, It's Raining Again, may be the most insipid of Hodgson's career. Perhaps that's why it still receives so much airplay.

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Posted Tuesday, July 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Take your time, ladies and gentlemen ( and, of course, dear prog-lovers, friends and Supertramp-fans ), cause this review is going to be a loooong one. It's going to be two reviews in one, actually, and it has a long introduction as well, cause this album were the "Famous last Words" of Supertramp, and having been a fan of this band since I was a ten-year-old boy should justify my need to do so cause they deserve it.

Introduction:

First of all, I did not know that this album did not sell so well because I am a German and, in Germany, it was a big success, a best-seller at its time that nearly everybody I knew was raving about. I had been a fan already when, in 1979, "Breakfast in America" saw them rise from "the music lover's treasure" to absolute Superstardom. And, for once more, after "Paris" had introduced those masses to the essence of their previous work to great acclaim, they held that status here. They were big. Larger than Life. You couldn't escape them if you wanted to cause they were everywhere, and given that they had achieved this because of the music and the music only... well, like them or not, but that's quite something to respect if not admire them for.

In my days of adolescence, I had played "Crime of the Century", "Even in the quietest Moments" and especially "Breakfast in America" ( to be followed by the excellent "Paris"-Live Album ) to pieces, not caring if it was "Rock", "Pop", "Prog" or anything, cause it was Supertramp and no other sounded like them. Supertramp simply belonged to the best of music that I have grown up with and seemed to combine everything that, for me, was important about it: good songs with good melodies and a great sense of harmony performed with great skills & care, delivering all kinds of feelings and colours/moods from serious to funny, from happy to sad... and a lot of what was inbetween as well, and lyrics that had a meaning.

Loving their albums from "Crime" onwards, I thought that "Breakfast" was the climax in any way ( just as "Crisis" seemed to me the only one not quite as good as the rest ). Well, for sure, "Breakfast" was pop. More pop than any of the others. But it still maintained and lived up to the highest approach I was able to cope with ( see, with Roop things ought to be a little entertaining, still ), musically, it was only being made more suitable for the masses. Creativity speaking with every song, even the likes of the title-track that wasn't meant to be any more than a funtime with, perhaps, self-ironic contents. Good pop music, mainly, is living from energy. The energy inside the musicians, the energy it's being fed from the lively vibe of the times and the surroundings in which it is created. Energy from all kinds of sources captured in sound and emerging into songs, energy that is being delivered that way in order to catch up the listener. It was meant to be infectious so the songs that finally arrive make you feel good ( even when they are rather sad ), chant along or even dance to the music, and that's perhaps what's making those of us who look for rather "serious art" judge more complex constructions and virtuoso abilities of musicians "more important", cause the approach is a different one. As "Breakfast" is pop as can be for Supertramp it isn't regarded as high as "Crime" amongst prog-fans usually, though in terms of art it is no less creative and inspired. "Breakfast" was perhaps the best proof we could get that Supertramp, in their essence, were NEVER really "prog" at all, and therefore had even some of us turn away. But in spite of them being more pop than prog or rock in the end, there was always something more about their music as well. Something that distinctively divided them from other "pop"-acts who were/are out there to make people have fun and make some money out of that. This "something" can be nailed down with the simple word personality. In spite of all the perfection in playing and sound you could feel there was human beings who expressed their genuine emotion in song and, eclectic as they still were, playing the music they love, allowing a strong influence of every bit that left a great impression on their own emotions and minds to emerge into their own work, but not depending on the latest fashion, rather chosen carefully out of values of old and inventions of new. The personality I'm talking about is a mixed-up one, though, it's "THE Supertramp", if you like, a person that does not exist, because it's a multiple one consisting of the five persons who made this band what it was, but with, no doubt, two strong personalities as its main-force, two songwriters to give their very all into the project.

Roger Hodgson, in particular, did not hide away his emotions. His personal quest shone through his compositions and lyrics more than I had ever known before with others ( whose music I liked, of course ), combining spiritual search with a sharp look at life itself from a sensitive, love-needing and loner's point of view who desperately tried to find a meaning in it all whilest struggling to go his own way. An "inside to the outside" approach, often in sheer opposite to his counterpart. Roger was almost unashamedly bleeding his heart out in public, perhaps looking for empathy but surely for brother-love, and reaching out his hands to give the same: The "Giving and the Taking" being central, perpetual themes, and everything that keeps us from doing so as well as the higher purpose that asks us to, name it GOD ( in absence of a better word for the indescribable ). In order to keep a balance with those ( mainly serious ) things, Roger had these other tunes as well, cheering himself up as well as the supposed listener, the catchy ( insipid, to some ) ear-wigs, not seldom containing lots of self-ironic tags, uplifting and easy ( cause Roger knew... "Easy does it" ) and making friends in a rather enemy world with all its lies, rules, injustice and duty-calls. This was what made me feel I had found a brother in my need to seek shelter in the wells of my faith as well as go out and live it, in my confusion and loneliness as a rather introverted outsider amongst most of the other pupils... with my guitar in my hands as the only way to come across and get recognition as well as encouragement. It was Roger who, at first and in the first place, had made me notice Supertramp and become a fan of this band, cause he directly spoke to me and reached my heart, making me feel less alone in this world with my emotions and he never ever failed to give me invisible company and courage to face life by myself again after having been hurt and disappointed, perhaps even abused once more... it's wonderful that this can be done with songs and songs only, isn't it ? I'd like to thank him for this here, though it may seem odd to do so as part of a record-review.

The other man in front of ( and behind ) Supertramp was the worldly Rick Davies who gave something distinctively different with his rather intellectual ( if not, at times, sarcastic and fearful ) approach and a strong affection for profane stories & things, rather dealing with the topic of sex than spiritual love ( but, also, a strong romantic, if not nostalgic/sentimental side that seemed to fit very well to Roger's ethereal dig at the same ), looking from the outside to the inside like a psycho-analyst and inventing strange characters like "Rudy" who seemed to be lost in this world and needed his "down to earth"-advice just like Roger Hodgson seemed to do for him more than once I think... musically speaking, Rick's background of Jazz, Swing, Blues, raw R'n'B, early Rock'n'Roll added not only quite a different flavour, it introduced a lot of it into my life cause I was "born late", and he shared his love to classical influences with Roger as well as the strong will to come up with something entertaining in order to make a living as a musician. A strange couple, but what made Rick so special for me ( cause I felt brother to Roger ) was: man, there was such a lot to learn. I wholeheartedly embraced all the different things and views that Rick Davies was able to contribute to my life with his very own approach at music and story-telling, love his humour and irony and, once having dug into this world and become familiar with it, became a fan of his just as much as I ( immediately ) had become a fan of Roger. No use to add how much I love the mixture that "Supertramp" delivered with the both of them, those really were the best of times. Back to this album, back to 1982, for now comes the first review ( of two by the same man/fan ).

Review # 1:

As I have already mentioned, "Breakfast" was the climax for me by then. The best album of 1979, by all means, with "Paris" as a welcome bridge to fill the time of waiting for a new album. And, by then, everybody knew what made me love this band, cause everybody knew the essentials of their output, cause "Breakfast" was the key to make them enjoy it maybe just as much as I did, cause it got the whole thing through to a wider public that willingly ate the big cake with "Paris" afterwards. And then...

"Rupert ! Did you hear the new song by Supertramp ? It's great ! A big hit on the radio !" ( This had happened more than once ). I hadn't heard it yet. "What's the name ? Do you know ?" "Oh yes, it's called IT'S RAINING AGAIN, awesome music, they're finally back, good as ever !" You can imagine how exited I felt. You can understand that I believed those people. I wouldn't have expected anything less. I expected something great, be it heart-moving or entertaining, and I expected something new as well. Supertramp had always delivered something new with every album, no matter how eclectic their style. And none of them sounded tired, all of them had something interesting about them. From "Crime" to "Breakfast" - progression as well as lots of different new aspects to be discovered, and "fun" was really "fun" just as heartbreak was heartbreak, leading to lamento or self-ironic frustration ( "You started laughing" f.e. has excellent lyrics, you can laugh about them though you know it's about embarrassment and a hurting affair, this kind of laughing does neither reveal a lack of respect nor reduce serious pain to a harmless thing ) and desperation was desperation. Supertramp was Supertramp and, logically, many people were raving about their new single, quickly emerging into a huge hit.

But when I finally heard "It's raining again" I - me, the fan of old - thought all those people were nuts. This was not something new. This was a repetition of worn-out chord progressions that underlined a stupid melody from the Kindergarten ( some of the kids invited to provide a background choir ). Propped up into Supertramp-Sound. And it reduced the pains of a broken heart to a little wee-wee... go to sleep and get up again, tomorrow it's gone, no problem... Aaargh ! All for the sake of having another Hit-Single or what ? Yep, it was an ear-wig. One of the most silly ones I had ever heard. It was such a bloody disappointment I could not even have fun with it as I supposedly should. How could I ? There was not much left of the energy and spirit I ever loved about Supertramp or Hodgson, it was only an infusion of old, un-original 60's ideas meant to entertain the masses too tired to think and too lazy to remember. A hit of foreseeable design and no real merit, so not a deserved one like "The Logical Song" was. Even compared to "Lady" or "Dreamer" it was a horrendous flaw, and... compared to "Take the long Way home" it was nothing, absolutely nothing. Embarrassing. What had happened to Supertramp ?

I put it down to the times. "It's raining again", I said to myself, "is Supertramp's LIFE IS FOR LIVING. They wanted a hit-single, they got their hit-single, don't take this too seriously. People like it - and, for the first time, you don't. That's all. It's only a song. Don't bother about it. It may be an exception. Check out the album before you dismiss the band for a single failure." So this is what I did. I was too horrified to buy it myself but, believe me, there was a lot of occasions to listen to the whole more than once cause nearly everybody had it and played it with joy. I just didn't share it that much. I was unable to. I preferred to not buy it for a long time, cause it was another disappointment, though, has to be said, a little better than its single. In general. I thought I can buy it as soon as I get it for a low price. This wasn't quickly but then again did not seem too long when in 1985 or so I came across a cut-out from the US at a very low price. That did just right for me but it should have told me that it didn't sell well there, so let me beg for pardon. My opinions about it, though, didn't change now that I finally had that stinker for myself.

Where had all the energy gone ? This is POP-music, meant to entertain, and pop-music is still about energy... Supertramp want to be Supertramp, okay, that's still what they sound like, but Supertramp have gone pop and therefore need to entertain and need energy. Sure, there were some decent tunes. But so much superficial stuff amongst them, and, adding a sad taste to the downing mood of half the album, so much infusions of what the band had done before, starting with the opener.

"Crazy". Sure, it was RH giving us one more, tinkering the piano in a very familiar way. It was typically RH. So typical it seemed he had looked at "Lady" and "Dreamer" and then said "one more that way".

"Put on your old brown Shoes". Rick ! Are you serious ? This is ol' time R'n'B from the drawing board. Anyone could have written that. Nothing original at all. But it's supposed to have a fun time with and I'd slightly prefer it to:

"It's raining again". Strange. Doesn't seem so out of place here at all. Perhaps I shouldn't have hoped on it to be an exception and see the album as a whole, conceptual one ? "Going Back", for that, would be a better title, but "Famous last Words" can also do with a slight addition to the first of words to make it "INfamous".

"Bonnie" Okay, this one sounds more like Rick, a little strained and tired still but one should perhaps listen to it some more so it may catch up on them, but it ain't more than an average song.

"Know who you are" BEAUTIFUL ! RH giving side 1 of the album at least ONE reason to have another go on it. But on the other hand... haven't we heard stuff like that before ? Yes we had. But slightly different, cause this one sounded so sad, as if the lack of passion that was significant for the album seriously asked Roger to do it as lethargic as he could, and in order to not shock anybody with a big surprise keep it a spartanic lamento. The sensitive singer with his acoustic guitar. Great melody and a gem of a song. Side 2 of the album started with a surprise, cause...

"My kind of Lady" really managed to outvote "It's raining again" for being the most old-fashioned, superfluous, embarrassingly stupid song that Supertramp had ever recorded. And a whole lot of Schmaltz that we thought had been overcome when the Rolling Stones had finally ( and forever ) given us "Beggar's Banquet". A parody ? I despised it, honestly, the lyrics so dumb I couldn't help but feel cheated. I couldn't stand it. Though the chord-progression was not quite as simple it only delivered second hand emotion in order to entertain everybody who didn't care... just like "It's raining again" ! Somehow an obvious choice for the next single as Rick Davies had even won the competition ( because of more Schmaltz to hurt the ear ) for the most loath-able track but the record-buyers did not agree, it was a minor hit only. So even when Rick wins against Roger he's less successful lol... But, making up for that at least so much that I didn't regret to have spent my few bucks on that album, the next three songs appeared to be better:

"C'est le bon" Roger again, acoustic guitar picking, lovely arrangement with a groove reminding of "Even in the quietest moments" ( the song ), good and catchy melody and rather serious lyrics ( with one eye twinkling still so they're not too serious ), lots of things that really were essential about this band to be found here. Can even be enchanting, depending on your mood. But its light-weight-appeal also makes "Even" the superior choice somehow.

"Waiting so long" Best track on Album. Rick Davies depressed. Did I tell you he was a conservative man ? Yes I did, four times now. Here we get the reasons, at least concerning music and music-biz. Great lyrics and 100 % honest. This time, though still sounding tired, the emotions really get you cause they've genuinely been expressed in ( and transformed into ) music. It's got the feel of a heavy weight on the soul with even ( one last time ) an electric guitar solo by Hodgson and it's hinting towards Rick's elder epics on "Crime", but not really progressive and without really matching them, though. Pathetic as well. It sums up the better parts of this album as shades of what the band used to be before "Breakfast", a step back because they couldn't go further anymore, they may have said what there was to say and run out of gas... "Now I'd rather taste old wine than mess around with something new". Significant lines, aren't they ?

"Don't leave me now" The ending. Pathetic again. A bit blown up, given that it's only verses repeating on familiar chord-changes until the instrumental epilogue drops in, but a haunting feel to it, something that can really touch you once more. I didn't like the pleading tone of the lyrics, though, it seemed to be an expression of a lack of self-consciousness and confidence that turned me away for some while. This, perhaps. was due to my own struggles and the fear of falling back in a role just like that and therefore it might just as well have been my very own lack of self-confidence, so no blame on Roger, though this song may have been one song too much to see and hear him plead.

2 stars overall.

This was the first review cause that's how I felt and how I judged the album then. I could live with it, but, for a long time, the feel of dissatisfaction didn't leave me. I can honestly understand anybody saying that this is what "FLW" is about for him, with slight differences on different tracks, but if you can subscribe, no problem. In order to understand the 2nd review better then, please turn back to the introduction and then head on here afterwards:

Review # 2:

The years have passed.

It's 2012. I have long since stopped listening to the charts. MTV and VIVA turn me off. I hung on to the values of old and get a huge pleasure of listening to Supertramp, especially the "classic line up", and FLW was their final outing before Hodgson parted ways with Davies. My first judgement about this move to have been good for the both of them had soon made way to the insight of how much they complemented each other and how superior the resulting mixture was even with their final album. What it lacks in freshness and adventurous spirit it makes up for with consistence and a celebration of the old values. I don't hear infusions anymore, I only hear songs, and the songs are pretty good. It may be wrong to compare this album to its predecessors, it's a slightly lesser one ( to Crisis, too ) but seen independently it's delivering a whole lot of good music. The feel of it being somewhat tired had been supported by an inferior production that ridiculously ( Peter Henderson was also responsible for "Breakfast" ) was not as good as could have been ( even the CD-remaster, though offering an improvement, has got that very same lack of space in higher frequencies and that's one of the things that overshadow some very inspired performances giving us the pleasure to hear this 5-piece in all its splendour and versatility once more ). Being a young man on his own quest for "something new" I did not treasure enough what good music there was if only the musicians were skilled and gifted tunesmiths and, at least, held on to the values of old. What once seemed boring or un-original now is a huge pleasure of sheer entertainment. Even more so, everything I love about Supertramp ( as distinctively explained in my introduction ) is absolutely valid and intact on this album. And it was for the very last time. They could have parted ways before and leave it unfinished but instead of this they chose to give us one more. Thanks so much for that. It's highly appreciated:

"Crazy". I somehow don't feel much like putting on "Dreamer" or "Lady" anymore. I still love ( well, with "Lady" it's never been a true love lol ) those songs and when I do I'm enjoying them, but I've simply heard them too often. "Crazy" is a song in the same vein. I love to put it on. It didn't wear out. It's still attractive even in mind.

"Put on your old brown Shoes" What the hell of a fun-song, Rick Davies at his best and the band playing with all their devotion and skill. And what a groove ! A must-have for every Supertramp-Fan. Uplifting in every way, not tired at all. Love to hear it, enjoy it anytime.

"It's raining again" Still the low point of the album, but, if not taken too seriously, well... the children have fun together and you can only learn from them. I got it wrong, lyrically, way back then. The broken heart is taken seriously, but the view of a child says: "Let yourself be infected by happiness. Come on you little fighter..." good lyrics. I've been too ignorant towards the view of a child by then I couldn't see what they were about. Apologises.

"Bonnie" Still a bit straining, not grown so much over the years, a lesser one though Rick really tried to make it special. Nice shuffle, btw !

"Know who you are" As beautiful as ever but, compared to the rest of Side one, a bit too sad in its mood. So perhaps it's better if singled out or in a mixed-up Supertramp-playlist with stuff from "Even", "Crisis", "Breakfast" and "Crime" on it... oh Roger, only you can write songs like this.

"My Kind of Lady" Tribute to the 50s. Adorably arranged and performed. Schmaltz of the funniest and most entertaining kind. Rick deserves a kiss for this ( and his courage to do so cause he loves stuff like that ) but I suppose he'd prefer one given by the woman he's written it for ( me, too, so quite understandably ) - with twinkling eyes but honestly saying "I love you, let's believe in the two of us, after all, we are human beings with sentiments and needs - including pretensions - allowed !"

"C'est le bon" Underrated Roger Hodgson-classic that stood the test of time. Everything I said about it in Review # 1 and more. They don't do stuff like this and they don't bring up men like him anymore.

"Waiting so long" Rick Davies-classic, still the best song on this album. Tango Finale.

( Next is the "Roop talking to Rick in case he's ever going to read this"-bit: )

I chose to set in my old ways as well in the meantime. I know why you did. I can only agree. Hard to get new inspiration from the latest of fashion... always inspiration to be found in the masters of old. I'm not that a conservative man, though. But my own art is a sacred place for me and I won't let it be disturbed or spoiled by any of that samey and faceless stuff the record-companies prefer to put their remainder money in nowadays. It's all about the songs. There are good ones and bad ones. Too many bad ones these days. This is a good one. And, from all the good ones you've written, it's one of the best and somehow been giving a pace/pattern for how to start again with "Brother". There's more space in this, more spontaneous sparkle including Roger's great guitar. This guitar has been missing as much as his voice and songs afterwards, not even Dave Gilmour is better when it comes to your compositions. ( Conversation/Monologue over )

"Don't leave me now"

Still that haunting feel and urge... sounds a bit strange today to hear how bass and drums augment the piano, no one could have programmed this.

( Now the "Roop talking to Roger"-conclusion: )

I do understand why you, Roger, have left the band. And everything is alright with me. But perhaps Rick was right about going on this way... yeah, perhaps he should have pleaded just one more... cause: it never again used to be so. You're as brilliant as ever and, with your current band, give me the genuine feel that Supertramp of old used to have with your songs. But Rick needs you and, all in all, the mixture of yours and his style is making more of the two of you than the sum of your parts. You can't be replaced and none of you can be equaled but together you were best. I wish that everything could be sorted out and we, the fans, could have some more of that mixture, but I know it's not your fault. ( Conversation/Monologue over )

4 stars.

( review over )

The rating for this site is the mixed rating of the two. I think that's fair. You can see it both ways and neither is completely wrong. Thank you all for the patience it took to read this. I'm just sitting there, crying. LOVE Roop

Report this review (#610384)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars It's strange, you know. You create one of the monster album hits of the rock era, spawning a bundle of hit singles, in Breakfast In America, and, yet, your follow-up, in relative terms, is a bit of a flop. Famous Last Words didn't bomb, but it certainly did not get anywhere near the heights of its famous predecessor, something I find strange really, because most large acts tend to shift shed loads of albums, if nothing else, on the back of reputation and loyalty.

Anyhow, in musical terms, and Supertramp terms, this is most certainly not as good. The hit single, It's Raining Again, is a joy to listen to, and yet more proof, if any were needed, that the hit machine was now exclusively Roger Hodgson's. Quite why, after leaving the band at the end of this recording session, he agreed to waive performance rights to the Rick Davies vehicle which succeeded is anyone's guess. I rather think he must be waking up night after night in a cold sweat, personally.

In more than a few of my reviews, I have expressed my opinion that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a prog band having commercial success, and this lot have provided me with so much pleasure over the years. Going back to my point earlier regarding relatively poor sales, when you listen to relatively mediocre fare such as Put On Your Old Brown Shoes and Bonnie, both continuing Davies' cod pop/jazz, you can see why. These tracks, in particular, for me simply exemplify the massive shift in an artist who provided us with gems such as Rudy, and the peerless Asylum, to, well, AOR blandness. Waiting So Long on the second side was a more thoughtful affair, but I was never to enjoy a subsequent Tramp album.

The highlight of the LP is the wonderful closer, Don't Leave Me Now, a song so dripping with melancholy and regret, you seriously think about that noose on the ceiling. It is beautiful, and clearly written with the departure of Hodgson in mind - he had, of course, announced his departure during this recording process. Of all of the rest, the Hodgson tracks stand out a bit more, with a personal favourite being the sad Know Who You Are. However, by this stage, all pretence as a songwriting collective had been abandoned (Davies and Hodgson always wrote separately, but at least there was a pretence of collective artistry prior to Breakfast In America).

Following this, neither party would ever reach anywhere near the commercial heights of yesteryear, even with the personal endorsement of Princess Diana as being her favourite band, and the feuding between the main protagonists made Waters and Gilmour look like a kindergarten bun fight.

Only two stars for this, I am afraid. I have it as a completist, and that is all it has to recommend itself, for two excellent tracks do not an excellent album make. A shame, really. Best to remember the good times

Report this review (#905142)
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Has this artwork inspired Dream Theater's A Dramatic Turn of Events or Saga's Heads or Tails? I don't know but they are in similar context, I think. ...Famous Last Words was the last album that Roger Hodgson made with Supertramp before seeking a solo career, and he made sure that radio would take kindly to his last appreciation with the band. The album put two singles on the charts, with the poignant "My Kind of Lady" peaking at number 31 and the effervescent smile of "It's Raining Again" going to number 11. The album itself went Top Ten both in the U.S. and in the U.K., eventually going gold in America. The songs contained in the album were purposely positioned for Top 40 radio, delicately textured and built around overly bland and urbane choruses. It's of course not a good one for those who compare it with the debut album. The band was actually under tension to produce something as successful as its predecessor Breakfast in America but it failed to paint the elements of complexity or progressive music style.

The album was written under difficult circumstances: 1. at the height of personal tension between Roger and Rick (and reportedly their respective wives who were not best of friends). It's the first time they wrote and recorded their own songs in separate studios without any face to face collaboration, 2. It was a typical under pressure follow up album to the chart topping Breakfast in America.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#1066386)
Posted Saturday, October 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Almost every single progressive rock band was affected in some way, trivial or otherwise, by the eighties. Phil Collins took Genesis into a whole new pop direction, Roger Waters left Pink Floyd, and Jethro Tull delved into the vein of 'synthpop', among other things. One of these disappointing changes that did happen was Roger Hodgson departed Supertramp, leaving a large dark whole where he once was. Not to say that onward Davies did a bad job leading the band by any means, but it was noticeably downhill afterwards. Hodgson did perform on one last studio album before he exited; the 1982 record titled "...Famous Last Words...."

As a whole the record is aesthetically pleasing, featuring some humorous artwork by Mike Doud depicting a hand cutting away at the rope under a tightrope walker's feet, living well up to the title. It is in fact the inside that is for the most part stale. A compilation of songs ranging from 'A' material to the less desirable. Lackluster pop tunes are prominent, hoping for a stand at the popularity of the ones from the 70's. One did manage to give it a crack; 'It's Raining Again' was a massive hit. Even though the title would seem to be indicating a somber attitude (or at least as I would think), it is quite the contrary- and by god it is annoying. A Sesame Street tune barely powered by Tramp's playing abilities that drags down the album's small amount of fluidity if it had. This sort of brings up that most of the tracks are happy tunes, seemingly without care or even creativity which leads to just bland material. In my mind there's two tracks that stand out: one being the opener 'Crazy' and 'Waiting So Long'. These two bring out the best of both sides; Hodgson's catchy playing and exquisite lyrics, and Hodgson's amazing Floydian style of arena rock and thundering control of his keyboard for the jazziest playing you'll hear. These two tracks are undoubtedly one of my favorite Supertramp songs, and those combined with some alright tracks makes for an album that would otherwise get a 2.5 but I'd round up to a 3.

Report this review (#1274974)
Posted Friday, September 12, 2014 | Review Permalink
TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars After the amazing success of "Breakfast in America", Supertramp decided to take on a more commercial aspect with "Famous Last Words". This may have been a poor choice of direction and a poor choice of title. Many people took the title to mean that the band was breaking up, however, according to John Helliwell, the band was not planning on calling it quits when the album was named.

When listening to the songs on this album, it seems that Roger Hodgson was mostly guilty for taking the band in a commercial direction. "Crazy" is formulaic pop with way too much repetition in the vocals during the fade out, "It's Raining Again" is just a pop song meant for radio, "Know Who You Are" and "C'est le Bon" are boring, overly sentimental ballads that go nowhere and lack all emotion. It seems that all of his songs have taken on a pop sound and all of the emotion and ingenuity in his singing and in his lyrics were missing, that is all of the songs except for the last track which was to be his swan song with the band. "Don't Leave Me Now" is a beautifully written song reminiscent of Supertramp's best work, but in Roger's case, it was too little of an effort when added with the other songs that he contributed to the album.

Rick Davies, on the other hand, has only one half-hearted attempt here and his other contributions to the album are more heart felt and, while still leaning on the pop side more than he was on previous albums, were much better developed and interesting. "Put On Your Old Brown Shoes" is a toe tapping delight with a lot of spice in the music, not flat like Roger's songs. "Bonnie" is a nice up beat song with an excellent piano hook that makes you think that maybe Supertramp still had a lot of life left in them. The piano-led instrumental break in the song is as good as anything from "Even in the Quietest Moments" or "Crisis? What Crisis?" with a beautiful symphonic sound swirling around the piano hooks. "My Kind of Lady" is Rick's most commercial song that has a slight 50's doo wop sound and it is not quite as interesting as his other songs here, but "Waiting So Long" on the other hand is an emotional, sometimes heavy, sometimes humorous (check out the tango beat halfway through the song), always beautiful and it even has an explosive guitar solo to round it out.

It was a sad day when we learned that Roger had decided to depart. However, after this album, even with Roger leaving the band, I felt that we were still in good hands with Rick fronting the band. And so we were with the excellent album "Brother Where You Bound", but after that album, Rick seemed to lose direction and suffered from not having Roger's more commercially savvy songs in later albums.

Even with Rick trying his best to save this album, it just was too hard to be believable with Roger's watered down songs mixed in. I was such a Supertramp fan and was sorely disappointed with this album. Even now, I can only give it a 3 star rating, and that rating only comes about because of Rick's songs on here. Rick proved on the next album he could front the band, but on this album, Roger was bringing the band down, so, at the time, it was probably the best thing for the band. I find it interesting that Roger's first solo album, even though it wasn't really progressive, was so much better than anything he contributed to this album. Makes me wonder if his heart was ever in the band at the time this album was produced.

Report this review (#1366557)
Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2015 | Review Permalink
VianaProghead
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Review Nş 98

"Famous Last Words" is the seventh studio album of Supertramp and was released in 1982. This was the last album with the presence of their guitarist, vocalist, keyboardist, composer and founder member Roger Hodgson, who left the group to pursue a solo musical career.

"Famous Last Words" has nine tracks. All songs were written by Hodgson and Rick Davies. The first track "Crazy" is a very good song to opens the album. It's a typical Supertramp's song and represents perfectly well their unique and unmistakable sound. It's a song very well written and based on the piano that sounds so typical of the band. It's very well accompanied by John Helliwell's saxophone and by Hodgson's voice. The second track "Put On Your Old Brown Shoes" is a typical Davies' song. It's clearly a song influenced by jazz and blues with reminiscences from many other songs composed by him. Despite being a very nice and fun song, I think it doesn't work so well on this album. So, this is my less favourite song on the album. The third track "It's Raining Again" is a typical pop song and represents on the album the most commercial track and a typical song made to be released as a single. This is a typical song of the band, that we love or we hate since the first listening, such as "The Logical Song" and especially "Dreamer". Sincerely, I must confess that I like very much the song and I think that it's a perfect example how to make a good pop commercial song with really good quality. The fourth track "Bonnie" is another kind of thing, because it's, in my humble opinion, one of the best songs on the album and represents one of its highlights. This is a love song that describes the obsession of a fan who wants to be closer to a movie star. However, some think that the lyrics are only symbolic and describes the intensely and difficult personal relationship between Davies and Hodgson. Anyway, we are in presence of a great song, one of the best composed by Davies, and curiously, it's a song with no wind instruments and where Helliwell plays keyboards, which I think was the only time that happened on the entire Supertramp's musical career. The fifth track "Know Who You Are" is another great song and represents also one of the highlights of the album. It's a perfect song, at the same time sad and beautifu, made by the hand of Hodgson, and sincerely, only he can write songs like this. It's a song with great melody performed by a great sensitive singer alone with his acoustic guitar. Here we have Hodgson and Supertramp at their best. The sixth track "My Kind Of Lady" was the second single taken from the album, after their first single "It's Raining Again". It's a Davies' love ballad very well sung by him, who harmonizes his natural voice with a falsetto vocal. It's a good song, a tribute to the 50's, magnificently arranged and performed and with a nice saxophone work by Helliwell, as usual. I think we can consider that we aren't in presence of one of the best musical moments of Davies, but like "Put On Your Old Brown Shoes", we are in presence of two typical and decent Davies' songs. The seventh track "C'Est Le Bon" is a great song and unfortunately is an underrated song of Hodgson. It's a classic Hodgson's song that stood perfectly well the test of time. It's a song very well arranged with a catchy melody and good lyrics and where once more, and like "Know Who You Are", we have a great sensitive singer performing with his acoustic guitar. The eight track "Waiting So Long" represents one of the highest moments on the album, if not the better. This is in reality a great song, extremely well arranged, very progressive and with fantastic individual musical performances by all band's members. The epic development of the song can be connected with the great classics made by them all over the years. This is a genuine progressive song and here we have Davies and Supertramp at their best. The ninth and last track "Don't Leave Me Now" is another pearl of the album and closes it in a great style. This is, in my humble opinion, the best Hodgson's song on the album. Despite being a sad song with pessimistic lyrics about solitude and fear of loneliness, it's a very powerful song that closes the album magnificently.

Conclusion: "Famous Last Words" is an underrated album. So, I can't agree with those who consider this album a minor work of the group. It has all the ingredients that made of Supertramp a great band. It has one of the most creative, one of the most respected and one of the most successful duo of composers in the progressive rock music. It's true that it isn't as good as "Crime Of The Century" and "Even In The Quietest Moments", but it's almost at the same level of "Crisis? What Crisis?" and "Breakfast In America". But unfortunately, "Famous Last Words" puts an end in this great duo of composers. The future has shown that the whole is better than the sum of the parts. Hodgson and Davies can't really be replaced and they worked better together than apart. So, "Famous Last Words" represents the Hodgson's last contribution to the band. But we may say that, with this album, he leaves Supertramp by the front door.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#1649932)
Posted Monday, November 28, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Supertramp's follow up to 1979's "Breakfast in America" paints a sonic portrait of a fractured whole. The band responsible for cracking the insulated egg of the US charts, striking gold with three massive hit songs, finds itself facing a crisis. The creative duo of Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson's already strained relationshipwas wearing increasingly thinner. The two living in different worlds both creatively and geographically, forced the band into three parts; Davies, Hodgson, and the band. Both Hodgson and Davies recoded their contributions seperate from eachother. It didn't help either, that the band had just completed a grueling tour consisting of 120 concerts in 9 months. Nevertheless, the road weary band would head to the studio to capitalize on their momentum. The result was "...famous last words..."

The album is simultaneously permiated with a melancholy mood, and a bittersweet optimism. Every song is of high quality, no doubt, and every song has something to say. Most importantly, each song is given room to breath. No two sound alike. It is the album's greatest strength, and also it's greatest weakness. The biggest problem is that the album doesn't have an overarching sound or a cohesive theme running through it. You don't really need either to have a great album, but it doesn't hurt. It has it's share of jarring moments. It jumps from a song about isolation and identity( Know who you are), to an upbeat love song (My kind of lady) at a brisk pace. This is mostly due to the two songwriting members of the band being isolated from one another both creatively and literally. It just feels a bit disjointed.

All in all, the production is superb. The songs are all well written. All the elments that make Supertramp great are there, and not there, all at once. Say what you will about the album, it has it's flaws. It is disjointed at times, grandiose at others. Unabashedly optimistic and introspective and moody. Yet, it is a well polished piece of work all around.

The highlights of the album are the opener, "Crazy", "Bonnie", "It's raining again", "My kind of lady" and "Ive been waiting so long". The rest of the album is great, just my personal choices of highlights.

Report this review (#2420357)
Posted Friday, July 17, 2020 | Review Permalink

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