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Supertramp - Crime Of The Century CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.31 | 1449 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars This the album by the band who, probably more than any other, defined the sound and feel of pop-prog. Following two relatively lacklustre albums, this released in 1974 was a monster smash, and became a template for the albums and singles that followed propelling the band into super stardom.

Having read recent interviews with Roger Hodgson, quoting himself on tour as the "Voice of Supertramp", extremely angry that the band continued to play his smash songs following his bitter departure, and of the opinion that the "public" really only want to hear the hits he wrote, I felt it was time to revisit one of the bands I fell in love with in the 1970's. Is he right? Was it, to all intents and purposes, a "one man band", with the rest chipping in? I do not believe so.

There are on this, as with all other albums they did together, Hodgson & Davies songs. Although jointly credited on the albums (a move which Hodgson states he bitterly regrets to this day), the contrast between the two styles of writing and singing is stark, the glue holding them together being one of the finest "backing" bands the world of music has produced.

There is not one weak moment on this album. The tracks hold every emotion known to man; joy, sadness, depression, madness, happiness, it has it all. And whilst the wider public would probably recognise certainly Dreamer as the epitome of the album, and, to a lesser extent, School, Hide In Your Shell, and If Everyone Was Listening as representing the definitive sound of Supertramp, i.e. Hodgson tracks, this, to my mind and ears, is exceptionally unfair to Rick Davies, who utterly excels here.

The title track contains one of the finest finale build up's known to prog, and, yes, it is pure prog. Never, I think, has a simple plinky plonk piano sounded so grand and emotional, and the sax played by Helliwell is simply sublime. An utter classic, rightly lauded.

Bloody Well Right is a joy, a massive mickey take of simple, basic, human interactions and relationships. If it was a "throwaway" or "filler" track, then it is up there with the best.

Rudy is a sublime study of a deficient human being, one yearning, yet utterly unable or incapable, of reaching his aspirations, and the upbeat music rather belies the emotion behind the lyrics.

However, the highlight of the album, and, in my honest opinion, of the entire band catalogue, is Asylum. Here, Davies completely blows away the myth that has grown up that Hodgson, and Hodgson alone, could do emotion and scale the human heights. The story of a man descending into utter madness and psychotic behaviour is heart rending, and, throughout, Davies manages that rare trick - you actually believe that it is he who is the subject of the song singing. The finale is compelling and so emotional that it leaves me completely exhausted every time I hear it.

So, does that make the other songs bad? Not a bit of it. I love all of Hodgson's tracks. Dreamer is pure pop prog heaven, wonderfully catchy. School is great fun, and takes you back to your own youthful days, whilst Hide In Your Shell proved that Hodgson could also do "serious" as well as whimsy. The grandiose performance on if Everyone Was Listening is exceptional.

This is a wonderful, historical, album, one of the few that deserves its place in the pantheon of absolutely essential. A work of art that not only should all prog fans own, but all lovers of well performed and emotional rock music. It is also, I venture to suggest, one of those albums that blows away the myth that a marriage of commercial tendencies and prog music must be bad. It isn't - it is the exact opposite.

Five stars, without hesitation. Virtually a work of perfection.

lazland | 5/5 |


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