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Supertramp - Brother Where You Bound CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.66 | 318 ratings

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3 stars I'm no big fan of Supertramp's big breakthrough album, Breakfast in America. And I was never a big fan of Roger Hodgson's trip toward radio pop. Even in the Quietest Moments is that last album of theirs that I consider--before I found Brother, that is.

In my mind, Davies always provided more edge, and this album demonstrates that. And while it's hard to call it prog, per se, it at least doesn't suffer from the fear that listeners only want to hear instruments as a backdrop to the lyrics. The title cut is ~17 minutes long and packed with instrumental progressions, elaborations, and even a brief foray into "experimental" discord. It falls into the classic Supertramp form of being, if not in the strictest sense "proggy", at least offering an atmosphere and a stage for the voices sing out their cynicism, desperation, or loneliness.

Cannonball is an up-tempo radio release, with a type of Alan Parson's "funk" over Davies playing a jazz chord riff and a disco-funk style of rhythm guitar. There are some nice atmospheric framing fills, but it sounds quite a bit like a Parson's song. Besides some jazzy jamming, that's about it. Still in Love is an old-style mid-tempo blues/rock-n-roll ballad with organ and saxophone. Although Helliwell does get some space to really play his sax, it's really no more complex than a Hewy Lewis tune--not that there is anything wrong with a Hewy Lewis tune.

Next comes No Inbetween. A nice sad little piano ballad with a nice vocal performance by Davies. It gradually grows in instrumentation to the Helliwell's saxophone to end the piece. It's probably the proggest thing until so far in the album. This song segues right into the next one: Better Days, and right away starts in with some complex instrumentation and counterpoint. It maintains a level of composition throughout, to a jazzy interlude played over blurbs of optimistic politicians, obviously as a statement of irony about "better days".

I've already written about the title cut. And it's really what gives one a feeling of a return to form for the band. In fact, I see Brother easily fitting in with Crime of the Century through Moments. The epic has many moods, most of them dark. There's a nice wistful sax solo early in the piece, and some great riffing by David Gilmour at the end over a base and horn ostinato which takes us out.

The last song on the album is Ever Open Door. It's not much but it works as a night light, piano-based ending and crescendo a to lead us out after the title track, and actually has a note of optimism, or at least the resolve of a survivor.

axeman | 3/5 |


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