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Supertramp - Breakfast In America CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.95 | 702 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars SUPERTRAMP are classified as 'Crossover Prog.' This album is the reason why.

The band always had an eye for the charts, having already been taken there with 'Dreamer' and 'Give A Little Bit'. They also had an eye for art-rock, where their ear for a melody was married with excellent arrangements to produce some excellent prog-related material. On this album we are presented, finally, with the perfect marriage: gloriously vibrant pop songs with thoughtful lyrics and stunning arrangements. Here, for a brief moment, SUPERTRAMP became the memories of a generation.

Ignore the irrelevant opening track: the album is a full frontal assault of the most clever pop the late 70s had to offer. Yes, I know you've heard it all far too many times, but that's because you listened to the radio. I never did. These songs are still fresh to me. 'The Logical Song' is a marvel, a slice of genius - that opening, with the wurlitzer and the slippery bass heralding some of the cleverest lyrics in pop history, is magic. The song even manages to let go during the instrumental breaks, with Helliwell's sax a little rougher than usual, a little more unsettling, and the wurlitzer driving the song to a satisfying conclusion. 'Goodbye Stranger' is a reasonable DAVIES ballad which achieved unaccountable success given its relative thinness. And then there's the famous title track, known for its memorable lyric and bold piano. I bet you're sick of it. I like its joviality and cheekiness, but would be the first to admit it's not a heavyweight. Still, it's less than three minutes.

'Take the Long Way Home' is, for me, the quintessential SUPERTRAMP song, and easily the most memorable thing HODGSON wrote for the TRAMP. It has a superb dynamic, and what an intro! It generates a genuinely spine-tingling atmosphere, the synth, the sudden deep piano note and the yearning of the harmonica. The lyric leans on close-knit rhymes again, reminding us of 'The Logical Song', but eclipsing that track with ease. Here the band achieve for a blissful moment the perfect balance between melody and structure prog and pop, exemplified by the majestic outro beginning at 3.46. Sorry, I can't fault this.

'Lord Is It Mine' is a splendidly evocative ballad, sung with real emotion, appearing in just the right place on the album. 'Just Another Nervous Wreck' is a strong pop song but is barely noticed here, such is the strength of the album. Ignore 'Casual Conversations.' The finale, 'Child of Vision' was placed there as a sop to the hardy prog fans still sticking with SUPERTRAMP, but nonetheless it's a worthy track, an extended rock track rather than a true prog epic, but thoroughly convincing for all that. I'm particularly taken with the bass work on this track, and enjoy the extended instrumental finish, one out of the ELTON JOHN school of piano-rock.

You need to own two SUPERTRAMP albums. Together 'Crime of the Century' and 'Breakfast In America' encompass everything good about this band. Never a band to reach true prog greatness, they nevertheless inspired other prog bands to reach for the charts. I'm betting that more than a few of you think this was a Bad Thing.

russellk | 4/5 |


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