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Supertramp - Some Things Never Change CD (album) cover

SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE

Supertramp

 

Crossover Prog

3.00 | 161 ratings

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TCat
Special Collaborator
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars Supertramp has always been one of my favorite bands, and I was heartbroken, along with many others, when Davies and Hodgson went their separate ways. I always loved their use of keyboards and how the band always centered around them. Everyone pretty much knows that the band continued on without Hodges and continued to see success even with the album "Brother Where You Bound", which was one of their most progressive albums. Unfortunately, the band took a wrong turn and decided to experiment with synthesized music and moved to a more commercial sound. "Free as a Bird" was released and was a commercial and critical flop, the worst of the band's career. The band broke up, and it looked like the band was no more.

However, in 1993, Hodgson and Davies reunited and recorded two new demos. This fell apart quite quickly when they couldn't agree on management, however, this would influence Davies to reform the band in 1996. He was able to return with drummer Bob Siebenberg and saxophonist John Helliwell who were both part of the "classic" line-up of Supertramp. Added to the core line-up was Carl Verheyen (guitar), Cliff Hugo (bass), Mark Hart from "Crowded House" (vocals, keyboards), Lee Thornburg (brass), and Tom Walsh (percussion), a total of 8 members. In 1997, the band released their 10th album, "Some Things Never Change".

This new album was supposed to represent a return to the band's earlier sound using more traditional and organic instruments and recording techniques. This was the first time in a long time that the band would go into the studio at the same time and recorded in a more "live" way. However, the public wasn't so sure about the new line-up, and even though the style was about the same, there were less catchy and memorable melodies as what was found on "Breakfast in America". On the other hand, the progressive edge of songs like "Asylum", "Bloody Well Right", "Fool's Overture" and "Rudy" are far gone into the past, and there just isn't much hope of reaching that pinnacle again. The album did perform better in Europe than elsewhere however, producing a minor hit single in Germany and also in Canada with the song "You Win, I Lose".

As was the case with the two previous albums, Davies does most of the vocals on this album. However, this time around, in order to add some variety to the sound, Mark Hart would also sing lead vocals on three of the tracks. The album is definitely better than the previous one, even if only for the leading song "It's a Hard World" with its close to 10 minute run time. The track shows a definite turn back to the organic sound, but also has a nice, jazzy sound with the added brass, almost sounding similar to the smooth jazz fusion sound of Steely Dan. This combination of Supertramp with a jazz style works pretty well, but it doesn't have a lot of progressive sound to it, and it only comes across as being pleasant sounding, but also a bit too similar sounding across the tracks. Yes it's true that "Get Your Act Together" has that strong backbeat, but it isn't quite infectious enough to be memorable, and "Live to Love You" is just not interesting at all.

The title track however, captures a bit of the instrumental excitement of "Cannonball" and brings a bit more of a spark to the album. Again, the leaning is to a groovy jazz sound, and the horn section and keyboard solos on this track are excellent. Unfortuantely, for every excellent track here, there are 3 mediocre tracks. But at least there is some salvageable music to be found. "Listen to Me Please" gives us the first chance to hear Mark Hart's lead vocals as he sings the chorus. He's no Roger Hodgeson, and of course people are going to try to make the comparison. However, his vocals are lighter than Davies, and it does at least provide a break from his heavier vocals. But they are not strong enough to make an impact, and the track just isn't interesting enough to stand out. Hart sings on his own on the next track "Sooner or Later". You have to admit that Hart had some big shoes to fill, and he doesn't come close to the expectations that are set, though the horns, keyboards and percussion solo on the instrumental sections are great, again reminding one of Steely Dan. Thank goodness it has an extended instrumental. Very smoooooooth!

"Help Me Down that Road" sees the return of Davies on a blues-tinged track. "And the Light" goes for the soft rock, slow and soulful sound with a sexy sax solo. "Give Me a Chance" gives Hart another chance at lead vocals, and again the vocals are weak. All three of these tracks are straightforward, and nothing really special. "C'est What?" on the surface might look promising at 8+ minutes, but it seems the album has run out of steam by this time. To finish it all off, "Where There's a Will" finishes it all off with something that sounds like a Randy Newman tune.

So, even though it is better than their last album, it still falls far short of being considered a classic Supertramp album as most of the songs are just so-so, with only a couple of really good tracks. Unfortunately, this is what we would have to be satisfied with for another 5 years, which is when the next album would appear.

TCat | 3/5 |

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