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Supertramp - Breakfast In America CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.95 | 712 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Supertramp's massively successful "Breakfast in America" might be regarded by some as little more than a good pop-rock album with some prog elements thrown in for good measure. To these ears, though , it is nothing less than the blueprint for that odd, controversial phenomenon known as 'progressive pop', which some see as a contradiction in terms. While this is not the place to go into a debate on whether it is possible for pop and prog to mix, if such a pairing is really possible, then Supertramp, over the course of their long career, have presented us with many remarkable examples.

Breakfast... kicks off with a bang. The barnstorming "Gone Hollywood" boasts killer vocal harmonies, dramatic piano work and a poignant middle section, in which the narrator complains that ain't nothing new/in my life today - definitely a track to be included in a list of the best album openers ever, and one of the most progressive offerings by the band. The interplay between Rick Davies' and Roger Hodgson's vocals is as effective as ever, especially in the song's context of light and shade (or rather, hope and disappointment).

The trio of songs that follow, while not scoring very highly on a progressiveness scale, are undisputed masterpieces of sophisticated, well-crafted pop-rock. "The Logical Song", the band's best-known, most successful composition by far, has thought-provoking lyrics that provide a sting in the tail of the song's infectious, apparently innocuous melody, and an excellent sax solo at the end. "Goodbye Stranger" sees Davies's gruff, expressive voice and brilliant piano lines take centre stage in a skewed, bittersweet romantic song about a player who is nevertheless very honest about his intentions. Then comes the title-track, another slice of intelligent, tasteful catchiness with an endearingly na´ve air about it.

The wistful sound of the harmonica introduces another of the album's highlights, the deceptively jaunty "Take the Long Way Home", another song about disappointed hopes disguised as a pleasant pop offering. While the prayer-like "Lord Is It Mine", showcasing Hodgson's voice at its most poignant, acts like a pause of reflection, "Oh Darling", "Just Another Nervous Wreck" and "Casual Conversations" can be indicted of being somewhat nondescript, and slightly on the boring side. However, album closer "Child of Vision" can be numbered amongst Supertramp's strongest compositions, reminiscent of the immortal "Crime of the Century", though possessed of its own individuality. With a big, dramatic chorus, driving piano, and lyrics that starkly criticise the modern way of life, it is definitely more ambitious than most of the other compositions.

"Breakfast in America" seems to be one of those albums that polarises opinion. Some love it to death, others hate it with equal passion for being too commercial and radio-friendly. Personally, though I find it inferior to the band's masterpiece, "Crime of the Century", I have always had a weakness for this record and its enlightened approach to quality pop music. Highly recommended to all open-minded prog fans, especially when in need of the occasional respite from the likes of Magma or The Mars Volta.

Raff | 4/5 |


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