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Supertramp - Free As A Bird CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

1.87 | 212 ratings

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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.

TCat | 2/5 |


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