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Supertramp - Famous Last Words CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.20 | 346 ratings

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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.
Cesar Inca | 3/5 |


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