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Supertramp - Breakfast In America CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.95 | 713 ratings

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4 stars When one thinks of mega selling (or, in the words of some, "sell-out") pop/prog monsters, most turn to Genesis in the 1980's or Yes with 90125. Well, forget it. As well as they sold, I would imagine there is barely a household on earth with a member of the family over 40 who did not, at one time, own a copy of this album. BIG goes nowhere near describing just how colossal this work was.

Of course, the million dollar question is; is it as good as its sales record suggests? Is it, for prog fans, rather better than one remembers when spitting out that dirty word, commercial? To this reviewer, the answer to both questions is a resounding yes. I love this band, and I think they thoroughly deserved their success.

In terms of album track layout, it follows a familiar pattern, this being separate Hodgson & Davies compositions bound together in a common identity of Supertramp. It's just that they got better at flogging and producing the stuff.

The highlight for me will always remain one of my favourite all time songs of any genre or generation - Logical Song. This is easily Roger Hodgson's finest moment, apparently written when he was still a teenager. In 1979, it struck a chord with me as a 15 year old immediately. It still does. A song full of angst, regret, and passion, detailing the confusion that any decent, right thinking person must have when he views the inequalities, inequities, and sheer injustice of the world run by elected and unelected dictatorships. It also has that unique trick of turning a very serious lyrical piece of work into an instantly accessible musical piece, catchy, well performed, and, overall, a sheer delight to listen to. A song I want played at my funeral.

The one track that, to these ears, takes one star from the masterpiece status is the title track itself, which, to me, takes the concept of whimsical to absurd heights. For sure, it was a monster smash hit, and is still played on radio's the world over to this day, but I remain of the opinion that this is Hodgson's worst ever composition. Grating, annoying, and instantly throwaway. Always, without fail, skipped on my MP3 player when it comes on.

Compare that to another single from the album, Goodbye Stranger. Commercially, it bombed in comparison, but I don't think that Davies ever sounded better, or, indeed, wrote better in terms of commercial blues based rock. This is one of the finest singles ever released, and Davies managed his usual trick of throwing himself in emotionally to compensate fully for the obvious comparisons with Hodgson's better singing voice.

Of this, Lord Is It Mine is perhaps his finest example. This is an exceptional piece of music, and, alongside Logical Song, is amongst the very best in fusion of pop and progressive rock music. Sung with absolute sincerity, theatrical, dripping with emotion, and extremely well performed by a band right at the top of their game, it is a pure joy.

Take The Long Way Home, though, comes pretty close. Another theatrical piece, telling a sad story, it fuses symphonic prog with pop sensibilities perfectly.

The longest track is the closer, Child Of Vision, and the closest to "pure" progressive rock the album came to. It is a natural successor to Fool's Overture from its predecessor, having the same symphonic burn, albeit far catchier.

In comparison to all of this, the other Davies ballads, Oh Darling, Just Another Nervous Wreck, and Casual Conversations sound almost throwaway. They're not that. They are, in fact, very good ballads, but he was, and is, capable of better, and they are bit of a letdown when compared to all else on this album, and also his work on previous albums.

So, the Davies song Goodbye Stranger aside, this is most definitely Hodgson's album, easily his most successful and finest recording ever. This is an excellent album, another in a long line which puts paid to the fiction that commercial is bad. It isn't.

Four stars. An excellent album which you really should own. Go on. We all deserve a guilty pleasure every now and again, don't we?

lazland | 4/5 |


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