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FREE AS A BIRD

Supertramp

Crossover Prog


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Supertramp Free As A Bird  album cover
1.79 | 142 ratings | 17 reviews | 2% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1987

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. It's Alright (4:59)
2. Not The Moment (4:34)
3. It Doesn't Matter (4:49)
4. Where I Stand (3:38)
5. Free As A Bird (4:20)
6. I'm Beggin' You (5:27)
7. You Never Can Tell With Friends (4:14)
8. Thing For You (3:59)
9. An Awful Thing To Waste (7:47)

Total Time: 43:43

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Rick Davies / vocals and keyboards
- John Helliwell / saxophones
- Dougie Thomson / bass
- Bob Siebenberg / drums

GUESTS:
- Rick Davies / timbales
- Linda Foot / backing vocals
- Mark Hart / keyboards, guitars and vocals
- Nick Lane / bass
- Lise Miller / backing vocals
- Scott Page / bass
- Lon Price / bass
- Steve Reid / percussion
- Evan Rogers / backing vocals
- Lee Thornburg / trumpet
- Marty Walsh / guitars and backing vocals
- Karyn White / backing vocals
- Dave Woodford / bass

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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SUPERTRAMP Free As A Bird ratings distribution


1.79
(142 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(2%)
2%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(8%)
8%
Good, but non-essential (21%)
21%
Collectors/fans only (32%)
32%
Poor. Only for completionists (37%)
37%

SUPERTRAMP Free As A Bird reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
1 stars Caged Like A Human

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

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Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Compared to "Brother Where You Born", this record is not progressive and the songs have all between themselves about the same simple style. All the instruments are quite present, are well played and do the job properly; the keyboards, quite varied, are not flashy and they just put some colour to the whole, while enhancing the rythm. There are some saxes parts. The whole is not bad, but it is a bit diluted songs.

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

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

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Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
1 stars As prog as Engelbert

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

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

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

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

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

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Review by Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars This one is a total throwaway. What a disastrous outing for a once great band. A listless and uninspired recording with no substance or meaning was not what typified their work. With nothing left to offer their listeners, it seemed they had reached the end of the road.

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Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Their previous effort, and the first one without Roger was quite a good surprise. So, can they do it again ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review by TCat
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This album is the one of the saddest albums ever made. I mean sad not in an emotional way, that would have been a good thing, I mean sad in a pathetic way. Rick Davies had proven in "Brother Where You Bound" that he was totally capable of making an excellent album without the help of Roger Hodgson. He made an album that was more progressive than any of Supertramp's other albums, except for maybe the amazing "Crime of the Century". All of us true Supertramp fans had every faith in Rick Davies to carry the band on his own. Then, the decision was made to turn to pop. I'm not sure if it was mostly Rick deciding this or if it was too much pressure from the record label that made this happen, but whoever is to blame, this album is a sorry attempt to feed the money machine. By the way, the attempt to make a successful record by turning an excellent band into a pop run of the mill band backfired on everyone, and the album became one of the least successful in Supertramp's career.

I loved Supertramp, for the longest time, they were my all time favorite band. Their music was inventive, original, fresh and emotional. They are not my favorite band anymore, and this album plays a large part in that, among other things. Yes my tastes matured a lot and I love more complex music now, but I still have a huge emotional tie to the band, at least when their music meant something. This is an album of pure pop drivel, all emotion has been removed, and all ingenuity has been thrown to the wind. This ranks down there with the worst of those albums that ruin bands which includes such miserable albums like Chicago XVI (and everything after except for "Stone of Sisyphus") and Genesis "Invisible Touch" (and everything after).

The album opens up with a repeat of "Cannonball" from "Brother Where You Bound", with the song "It's Alright" which is okay because "Cannonball" was a great song. The thing that's lacking on this almost copy of that song is that this time, there is no room for the song to grow. It is not developed this time and there is an untimely fade out that hints to the poor choices that were to come on this album. The next 2 songs, "Not the Moment" and "It Doesn't Matter" reflect the sound that you can expect for pretty much the rest of the album. They are mostly uninspired songs set to a dance rhythm with no heart whatsoever. In other words, pretty much the same as most pop songs, no heart, no innovation and cookie cutter sound. How depressing is that? Well, it gets worse. The next track, "Where I Stand" is just plain awful. There is a guest vocal here by Mark Hart (who would later become a regular member of the band) who is also a member of the band Crowded House. Mark's voice may have been added here as a reprieve from Rick's vocals I think because a lot of people missed Roger's vocals. However, Mark adds nothing and actually further destroys this album.

Next, the title track "Free as a Bird" goes back to the average sounding pop song and only makes itself distinguishable from the other tracks on the album by adding a choir for the chorus. Hmmmm, sounds like another worn out pop formula doesn't it? Yep, it is. If this wasn't so sad, I would laugh at how blatantly commercial the music attempted to become. The big hit from the album comes next in "I'm Begging You", which didn't do too bad in the charts I suppose, even though I don't ever remember hearing it on the radio. It is a little more lively, but still nothing special and definitely nothing like anything off of the previous very popular "Breakfast in America". This makes me think that Roger did have the best pop sensibilities, because BiA was a great album (not their best but still excellent) and it was hugely popular. Rick was the innovative brain of Supertramp, and so when he attempted to make this album as another popular album, he failed because he was just too good for this type of music. That is my theory and I will stick to it and present Rick's past songs and "Brother Where You Bound" as evidence.

The last three songs aren't worth saying much more about because they continue to provide us with more pop fodder, and even the attempt to call up some of the progressiveness and brightness from the past in the last track "An Awful Thing to Waste" sounds half hearted. Rick said that this album was an attempt to bring in a modern sound and build it up with dance beats, computerized sounds and drum machines. This attempt became nothing but a poor copy of disco which at the time of the album release was long dead. (At least that is what the pop artists of today want you to think, that disco is dead, but in reality most of the pop artists that are out there are only regurgitating disco even worse that ever, and here it is 2015 and they still do it and try to make us think they are original, but I digress.....let me get off my soapbox now).

I was very mad at Supertramp for making this awful album. I have forgiven them since and still love their better music, but this is still a sad album. And now I hope you understand when I say it was sad. Pathetic. I'm sorry Supertramp, but it's just heartbreaking that you had to resort to this. The production is the only thing that saves this album and raises it from 1 to 2 stars.

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2 stars I remember well. When Roger Hodgson made his farewell with Supertramp, during that memorable show in Munich that was aired on TV - and I had been a lucky "Live"-viewer of that one, which sadly was to be only released officially in parts on VHS/DVD later on "The Story so far" - he told the audience t ... (read more)

Report this review (#610386) | Posted by rupert | Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album was critiqued to no end. It was unfairley judged as it is decent music. With Breakfast in america and crime of the century...people are expecting something bigger, rather than new and experimentive. How ignorant. I've heard that this album lacked the complex sounds and qualities fro ... (read more)

Report this review (#6838) | Posted by | Friday, April 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars ¡My God! ¿and is this Supertramp? sincerely it is difficult to me to believe it. It is a disc make with so many lack of appetite that gives real sorrow to listen to it, it does not have forces none, nothing is saved absolutely, if you buy it to yourself that only it is for completing the colle ... (read more)

Report this review (#6836) | Posted by | Thursday, December 09, 2004 | Review Permanlink

1 stars After teasing fans with the promise of life after Roger Hodgson's departure with the excellent "Brother Where You Bound" album, Supertramp unveiled the epic disappointment of "Free As A Bird," an insipid and largely unspired collection of art-pop that both lacked pop and lacked art. Listen to ... (read more)

Report this review (#6831) | Posted by | Thursday, July 08, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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

Report this review (#6828) | Posted by | Thursday, January 08, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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