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Supertramp - The Very Best Of Supertramp CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.42 | 34 ratings

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4 stars In my mind, Supertramp belongs in a sort of prog-pop category alongside the Alan Parsons Project, Ambrosia, Klaatu and 10CC. My listening experience with this group is actually quite strange. I grew up with taped copies of its two most popular albums Crime Of The Century and Breakfast In America, but a decade ago I was given both volumes of this Best Of series on CD. Since between them the volumes had virtually every track off these albums, I've never got around to buying any of the individual Supertramp albums and I'm quite content to let things stay that way.

Over the years Roger Hodgson, Rick Davies and friends have recorded a fair number of unforgettable creative pop songs and most of them are here on this first volume. Supertramp was successful enough that most regular radio listeners should be familiar with the group's tight playing and distinctive songwriting that relies more on clever changes of direction rather than instrumental prowess.

The material for this compilation ignores Supertramp's first two albums (recorded with a different label now doubt) and focuses on Crime Of The Century (six songs) and Breakfast In America (four cuts, all of which were hit singles, if I'm not mistaken). The other prime era Supertramp albums, Crisis? What Crisis? and Even In The Quietest Moments, are given short shrift with three tracks between them, and there's also a track each from Famous Last Words and the post-Hodgson album Brother Where You Bound?

While it does not necessarily contain Supertramp's most progressive moments, the music on here is virtually flawless. School evolves beyond its spaghetti Western harmonica intro into a fantastic, compelling yet consise prog tale. Goodbye Stranger's got an unforgettable propulsive chorus The Logical Song is perhaps the quintessential Supertramp composition ... it's so damn clever! Bloody Well Right has some excellent electric piano that suddenly bursts into one of their hardest rocking tunes (that's despite a borderline "wussy" chorus!). Rudy is another piece that follows the same route. The first couple of minutes of this track could even be a Billy Joel song, yet halfway through it becomes one of the group's best rockers! Crime Of The Century (the track) is arguably Supertramp's finest compostion ever. An impassioned slow-moving rocker with a momumental fade-out that is scintillating and incredibly moving for reasons I can't even begin to describe (I wonder if I'm the only person who thinks that Supertramp's sound on the Crime Of The Century album foreshadows Pink Floyd's on The Wall ... sounds like heresy to some, I'm sure!).

Dreamer is a nice piece with a great "dream sequence", but I do find the vocals too annoying during the chorus on this one. There's a definite twee aspect to Hodgson's singing and writing style and one can imagine a kid getting hurt in the school playground for admitting to being a Supertramp fan! Hide In Your Shell is probably my least fabourite contribution here from Crime Of The Century, even if it's just an "average" song. From Now On is another dreamy track but with more of a punch than Hide In Your Shell, and even the post-Hodgson blues-inflected rocker Cannonball isn't bad at all. I must say that the poppier moments on this collection, songs like Breakfast In America, Give A Little Bit, Take The Long Way Home and my favourite Supertramp song ever It's Raining Again (!!!), are totally enjoyable.

I'm a bit of stick in the mud with compilations in that I always prefer the songs to be in chronological order. I might also want to argue about replacing the bluesy Ain't Nobody But Me with the ethereal Even In The Quietest Moments (the track). I can imagine that most prog fans will tell you to head to the Crime Of The Century (surely Supertramp's finest) album first but I'd advise you to try this one out. It's an excellent representative collection of one of the few groups that managed to successfully marry prog and pop sensibilities. ... 72% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |


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