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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Some things need to change!

It is, I suppose, unfair to keep harping on about Roger Hodgson when this is Supertramp's third album without him, but when he left he took the essence of the band with him. I keep buying albums bearing the Supertramp name though, in the vain hope that they will come up with another "Crime of the century", or even "Breakfast in America".

Rick Davies jazz/blues influence on the band worked well when kept in check by Hodgson's more rock orientated work. When Davies took over completely though, the balance was lost, and Supertramp's work came to be much more dominated by those jazz influences. Personally, I find Davies voice to be one of those I can listen to in small doses, but his gruff drawl is hard going for a whole album.

The music here is well crafted and performed. Most are funky jazz rock pieces, but there are softer tracks such as the passable John Lennon impersonation on "Live to love you" which has similarities to "From now on". There's almost gospel ("Help me down that road"), and lounge ("Live to love you"). On "Sooner or later" I'm guessing that Mark Hart takes on vocals, it certainly is not Davies. His vocals make for a pleasant change, being lighter and more melodic.

For those who enjoyed Davies contributions to the early work of Supertramp, this album is well worth seeking out. For those who pine for the return of Hodgson, there will still be some appeal, but don't expect too much.

Report this review (#6869)
Posted Monday, July 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although I miss the balance between Roger Hodgeson and Rick Davies, I dig Rick's Jazz/Blues stylings, as well as the occasional funk drive on tunes such as "You Win, I Lose". It leans back a bit to Rick's contributions to "Breakfast In America". "Broken Hearted" seems to give a tip-of-the-hat to later Steely Dan, with a shuffle beat. Definitely a pleasant album to listen to, when you're in "that mood".

NOTE: UK pressings contain an extra track, "Give Me A Chance" (4:24), slipped into the running order at #10, making a total of 12 tracks. I understand that early US pressings also included this track, but it was removed from later pressings when the record company found out it was there, as they had no permission to release it. So check your disc!

Report this review (#6870)
Posted Tuesday, July 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Rick Davies unashamedly enters jazz/blues in a big way. It has a taste of swing too. All I know is if I had to see these guys jamming in some NYC nightclub at 3AM in the morning it would probably be the icing on the cake for me. Look, Somethings Never Change has one or two weak songs but overall you are getting about one hour of classy, slick, tight music which shows a maturity way beyond say Breakfast in America. Mark Hart is a more than suitable replacement to Roger Hodgson. John Helliwell still does the master of cerimonies stuff but it is really interesting seeing Rick Davies live now. He is relaxed and this album shows it.Songs to highlight are many but check out ' It's a hard world'. 'Get Your Act Together',' Sooner or Later', this piece the ultimate Supertramp jazz jam session and ' Cest What?' A large proportion of the songs are lengthy and build to great climaxes. Sure this is definitely not progressive but it still has that stamp of uniqueness and for those music enthusiasts who enjoy the jazzier side of Supertramp will love this excellent album.
Report this review (#6871)
Posted Saturday, September 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I bought this album in July 1997, some months after it was released.It is a good album, with a very good recording and mixing, with very good arrangements, and it was done with all members of the band involved in the arrangements and with two songs co-composed and sung by Mark Hart. This is the last new studio album that I have bought from Supertramp. I still don`t have their latest studio album called "Slow Motion", because I read in their official website that "Slow Motion" was planned in all things by Rick Davies alone: he is the only composer of the band; he recorded demos which included all the arrangements for the songs. The rest of the members of the band only learned ,played and recorded the songs with Davies`arrangements, without contributing to the arrangements. Mark Hart co- produced the album, but he didn`t sing lead vocals or co-wrote songs. So, I`m not interested in solo albums released under some band`s name (like Jethro Tull, who is "Ian Anderson`s Enterprises", really). But this "Some things never change" album is still a "real" Supertramp`s album.It also has some good lyrics. My favourite songs from this album are: "You Win, I Lose", with an interesting "management" of the rhythm, some "Dixieland" arrangements and humorous lyrics; "Live to Love You", a good ballad with a very good clarinet solo; "Listen to me please", with lyrics which seem to me that are about promises made by managers to talented but naive musicians;"Sooner or later", a song sung and co- composed by Mark Hart, with very good arrangements; "And the Ligh" (with Tom Walsh on drums), an old song rehearsed and recorded in demo form while Roger Hodgson was still in the band, and it has good lyrics too about "reconciliation" with someone;"Give me a chance", another song sung and co-composed by Mark Hart; "Where there`s a will", which sounds to me like a Gospel song, with a very good piano, and it includes a choir too. I don`t know why Davies didn`t let Mark Hart to be more himself and not mainly the lead singer of Hodgson`s songs on tour. "Some things never change" was a good step towards having another composer and lead singer in the band. But Davies decided to control everything in the "Slow Motion" album. Maybe one day I`m going to buy "Slow Motion", but I still prefer this 1997 album.
Report this review (#6872)
Posted Friday, November 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Their previous album "Free As A Bird" was their poorest in their career. This one is a bit better although that the rather monotonous mood of several tracks are not in favour of the most jazzy/funky 'Tramp album ever released.

The tracks I prefer here is the commercial "You Win, I Lose", "Listen To Me, Please". "Live To Love" and "And The Light" are a nice rock ballads with a catchy melody. While the former features good piano work but sounds a bit as a lobby bar tune, the latter has a nice sax break. I guess I like these songs because they remind me of the Hogdson era. Don't expect masterpieces though (these belong to the past, unfortunately).

Since funk is not at all my cup of tea, I cannot feel any sympathy for "Some Things Never Change" even if there's a good guitar break in here.

"Sooner Or Later" sounds almost as a Santana song : good percussions for this cha cha cha type song. Rather unexpected on a Supertramp album. Not too bad. Maybe a response to "What Does It Take" from Santana's album "Shango" which sounded as a ... 'Tramp one !

A little blusey one with "Help Me Down That Road". A little weaky.

The next two songs from this long album (over sixty-five minutes) keep on with the jazzy/funky and monotonous atmosphere but all in all is not too bad an effort.

The closing number is again a good song like Davies could write in their golden era. A quiet song to close this average album (very much "Crime" oriented but that's a reference, no) ?

Two stars.

Report this review (#111961)
Posted Tuesday, February 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Supertramp returns ! EMI have finally invested the money it took to make the old times come alive again ! Supertramp, though without Roger Hodgson, still ( and even without Dougie Thomson, who mysteriously had been "lost" - as Rick Davies put it in the booklet to "Retrospectacle" later ), manage to still sound like Supertramp, just listen to the trademark-Wurlitzer-sound on their recent single "You win, I lose" and you'll believe ! And Supertramp are Major-Artists creating Major-Art just like Pink Floyd ( only underrated when compared to them ), so their new album had to be graced by Artwork that should remind you of..." etc ect ect !

Hm. My namesake Rupert Perry, head of EMI UK ( by then ), is a clever business man. Here in Germany, for example, the release of "Some things never change" had been accompanied by TV-advertises that, in their essence, told the watchers/listeners exactly this ( well, nothing about RH and DT not being on board, I've just added these facts for your entertainment/Information ). And, here in Germany at least, it worked. But in spite of the simple fact that Rick Davies and his newly assembled backingband ( including John Helliwell and Bob Siebenberg ) had finally managed to come up with a new studio-album after 1987's "Free as a Bird" and anyone who likes Davies should have been interested, this was not the sensation we were made to believe. It was, in parts, a pleasant return, but no more.

The very best thing about it: It does not sound like "Free as a bird". It contains some songs that are far better than any on that strange album. It really sounds a lot more like "Supertramp". But it sounds tired in huge parts as well, with 12 songs being far too much, too long, too unadventurous, especially in its 2nd half, which I'd like to forget although "C'est what" - for once more - appears to be a little more lively. I have met quite some people who raved about "And the Light" f.e., while me I never knew what it was that made them do so... I can't remember to have missed a part of this sleepy ballad, but then again... perhaps I did, because I may have slept through its exiting ( or heart-moving ) moments every time I listened through the album and then awoke again exactly at the beginning of "Give me a chance"... without having recognised my slumber, but although I can't exclude this possibility, I just don't know why then I haven't slept through "Give me a chance" ( a track that is part of my copy ! ) as well... what in the world had made me wake up ? Mark Hart's lead-vocals ? Cannot be, sorry.

It's a no go for me, he's such a tragic bore, especially on "Sooner or later", 6'50'' minutes of absolute boredom that belong to the dullest of moments in the whole catalogue of this band, just like "Free as a Bird" Tracks 2 to 4, only without any approach at sounding "modern". And progressive Rock music it ain't, either. But that would be too much to ask for, honestly, a decent pop-tune with something of a melody would have done, as no one would have expected 1997 to be 1974 again and Rick Davies giving us another "Rudy"... he may have come close to another "Crime" ( not the album, not the song, but the word ! ) if all of the album would consist of bland attempts at blues and blues and blues but slooooow, please, cause grandpa doesn't like things to sound aggressive ( he, my "Supertramp"- Grandpa, prefers the distinguished side of entertainment, sipping at his Glass of Bourbon and dreaming of how good life used to be in 1940... or any year before the Rolling Stones came to make things sound so dirty, even singing about dirty things. "Some things never change", but other things do, and perhaps, for Grandpa, it are the wrong things in both cases so he'll be pleased with Tracks 7-12 of this album, skipping Track 11, of course, cause... well, it's okay for him, but a little too hectic and a little too loud ).

You may have noticed I'm not being too serious right now but I want my review to be at least more entertaining than the low-points of this album are. Don't worry, I'm not about neglecting its highs and trying to put it down completely, cause therefore, on the other hand, it's too good. So let me try to get back on a serious pace now.

It starts out great. "It's a hard World" is kind of a sinister and dark, "negative" brother of "Gone Hollywood"... telling us the story of a disillusioned man hanging on to his dreams of "making it big", slowly going crazy because nothing ever happens... next ( and last ) could be "Asylum" again, I really love this track featuring great brass and jazzy moods ( and versatile, at parts virtuoso bass-work by Cliff Hugo, excellently introducing himself as a worthy follower to Dougie ), and if the whole of the album would keep that standard... oh, it could be a personal 5-star.

"You win, I lose" is a funny ear-wig in typical Supertramp style, and the single was a well deserved return to radio ( as well as, in Germany, the single-charts )... love its lyrics ! 4 stars.

"Get your Act together" is the first straight dig into average R'n'B here ( the opener has a delicate R'n'B flavour as well, but is a strange hybrid with many different influences woven together, while "You win, I lose" is typically R'n'B-infected Supertramp only ), somehow quite "average Davies" but brilliantly arranged and performed... very pleasant.... 3 stars.

"Live to love you" is the first ballad ( one of the schmaltzy, old fashioned kind... very relaxed but still groovy, the comparism to Lennon's popular songs from "Double Fantasy" is really a fitting one, I think ), it's alright, 3 stars.

"Some things never change" is somehow a track that reminds me of the better ones on "Brother where you bound", and it's the closest they get to "Prog" here, but it's pop, still, so don't be misled... 4.5 stars.

"Listen to me please"... if only Roger Hodgson would have been Davies' Co-Singer on that one instead of Mark Hart... it could have been a Supertramp-classic ( but one of the poppier ones, still ), the verses are haunting, the bridge is perfect, but the refrain perhaps is a bit too obvious a "typical Davies-conclusion" to really make it as good as it could have been... 3.5 stars.

With 3 stars for "C'est what" once more and anything between 1 ( "Sooner or later" ) and 2 stars ( "Where there's a will" ) for the rest it isn't such a bad album ( Grandpa agrees, but he'd rate the songs quite differently, preferring those ones I call "boring" and slightly screwing up his face when it comes to "It's a hard world", cause in spite of it being pleasant to his ears as well as mine, he thinks it could have been better without the muted trumpet of which he says it sounds too odd ).

3 stars, barely but still deserved, with two warning signs added:

1. For the Listeners: "Prog fans may fall asleep even during the - really good, sometimes excellent - first half of this record" ( It's NO, I'm repeating, NO progressive rock at all, it's Rick Davies' Supertramp ! )

2. For the Band: "Please focus on material that has got some interesting chord-changes, melodies or grooves, you're quite capable of that... and if you wanna play blues or blues-ballads, beware to not fall asleep yourself during the performance or simply write and perform better ones than here, thank you".

Greets Roop

Report this review (#610388)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#2280579)
Posted Tuesday, November 12, 2019 | Review Permalink

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