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Supertramp - Retrospectable - The Supertramp Anthology CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.31 | 35 ratings

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3 stars When Supertramp finally made it big, they were abhorred by the critics, at least in their country of origin. Not only did they have long hair, beards and a saxophone player with 'uncool' glasses; they also had TWO keyboardists (much of the time) and a vocalist who, in a whining voice somewhat similar to Jon Anderson's (at least to the unitiated), kept asking questions (again and again and again) about the Meaning of Life... In an age of safety pins, skinny ties and black leather jackets, noe of this seemed cool. But believe me, as soon as they'd released BREAKFAST IN AMERICA, Supertramp cried and cried all the way to the bank. And deservedly so, in my opinion: love 'em or hate 'em, both that album's title track and 'The Logical Song' were catchy as hell.

Just after CRISIS? WHAT CRISIS had come out, i.e. when I was sixteen, I was crazy about Supertramp for half a year or so. The maudlin mood captured so well by their lead singer, Roger Hodgson, perfectly fitted my own. I was particularly enamoured of the song 'Hide in your Shell' (from CRIME OF THE CENTURY), which seemed to express my longing for unattainable love. I can't remember how often I enjoyed that climactic moment when Hodgson goes:

"I wanna know... / I wanna know you... / Well let me know you / I wanna feel you / I wanna touch you / Please let me near you / Can you hear what I'm saying? / Well I'm hoping, I'm dreamin', I'm prayin' / I know what you're thinkin' / See what you're seein' / Never ever let yourself go..."

I'm sure such words don't make much sense when you see them on a computer screen; you just HAVE to hear them with the music! Anyway, it was a severe disappointment to me that 'Hide in your Shell' is NOT included in this anthology. Other than that, this seems as representative a selection of Supertramp's oeuvre as you're ever likely to get.

I stopped listening to Supertramp albums around 1977 (although I couldn't, of course, escape their music on the radio) and switched to (among others) the Talking Heads, whose lead vocalist could be just as sentimental as Mr Hodgson. So when this anthology became available at a bargain price, I wanted to find out if I'd still enjoy the old tunes. And believe me, folks, I did! Never mind all those tearful lyrics, these guys certainly knew how to write and perform powerful pop songs.

As any Supertramp freak (if they still exist!) will tell you, most of the material from the albums CRIME OF THE CENTURY and CRISIS? WHAT CRISIS? sounds inspired. Let me give you a single example. 'Lady' is a strong composition. It opens with a bang; the verses grab you by the lapels; the chorus sounds cool; sax, electric guitar AND percussion are irresistible; and after the final chorus the song isn't even over: unperturbed, the band keep piling up vocal embellishments. Tunes such as 'Lady' have all the exuberance that also characterised Queen, 10CC and even Zappa at their best.

fuxi | 3/5 |


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