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This review is from: Crisis? What Crisis? (Audio CD)
This was the 1975 follow up to their breakthrough album 'Crime Of The Century' (1974) and has been regarded since as a second class citizen in comparison. But not in my opinion. On this album they continue the remarkable musicianship of 'Crime' and produce what for me is probably my favourite album of theirs. Although it's a mighty close call of course when you have the exquisite 'Crime' and 'Quietest Moments' and the triumphant 'Breakfast In America' to compare against. These four albums from Supertramp from 1974 to 1979 are of such a remarkable quality that one can only marvel at.
And so to this album. The opener 'Easy Does It' is a wonderfully understated opener, but utterly charming nonetheless with its uplifting and slightly haunting melody. And the whistle is great, as great as it was on Lennon's 'Jealous Guy'. An underrated instrument for sure. And then it leads into 'Sister Moonshine' which rocks and charms with such effortless ease. It is one of the very best Supertramp songs without question. Not well known but for those who do know this track you will surely agree! Roger Hodgson gets a rare opportunity here to display his tremendous guitar skills which are frankly and sadly in the background on most of Supertramp's work. 'Aint Nobody But Me' is a pounding piano based Rick Davies number which again features some all too rare and quite brilliant lead guitar work from Mr Hodgson.
But then we come to the cream of this album. 'A Soapbox Opera' is just perfect. I read that Roger wasn't happy with the studio recording. I cannot for the life of me think why. It is pretty close to perfection. And what a great lyric, especially the wonderful line 'Mary...oh tell me what I'm living for....'cos I feel that I'm tossed in the river....have you a son to deliver?'. You don't have to be a Born Again Christian to realise what a great lyric this is. Marvellous. 'Another Man's Woman' is as good musically although Davies' lyric is altogther more down to earth. But just as heartfelt and meaningful as all Supertramp lyrics were from this period. What an incredible last 90 seconds on this song. Musicianship of the highest class.
'Lady' opens Side 2 (vinyl record) in fine style. Again here is Supertramp at their mesmerising best with a pulsating beat and great melody. Invigorating. 'Poor Boy' is quite nice though less memorable. 'Just A Normal Day' sees Davies and Hodgson combine their talent on a great mournful ballad. But it is John Anthony Helliewell's sax solo (or is it clarinet?!) which really lifts this song up into the stratosphere. What a gorgeous and perfect set of notes he plays! 'The Meaning' is decent but unremarkable. But the closing number 'Two Of Us' is perhaps the most perfect Supertramp song on record. Sublime melody, sublime lyric and such a great vocal from Roger Hodgson. The only Supertramp ballad which even comes close to this is 'Lord Is It Mine' (1979). When 'Two Of Us' finishes, one's impulsive reaction to play it again. And that must be the sign of a great song.
God Supertramp were good. Even if in later years after 'Breakfast' they would fail to match their earlier achievements, all I can say is that firstly it is hardly surprising and secondly nothing can detract from this golden five year period of theirs, of which this album reached as supreme heights, and possibly higher in places, than any other. One day maybe more people will appreciate just how good this band was. Until then, we are the chosen few.