Supertramp


Band members               Related acts

- Rob Benberg (aka Robert Layne Siebenberg) -- drums,

  percussion (replaced Kevin Currie) (1972-)

-- drums, percussion (1973-)

- Kevin Currie -- drums (replaced Bob Millar) (1970-)72

- Richard Davies -- vocals, keyboards (1969-)

- Frank Farrell -- bass (replaced Richard Palmer) (1970-72)

- John Anthony Helliwell -- sax, woodwinds, vocals

  (replaced Dave Winthrop (1972-)

- Roger Hodgson -- vocals, keyboards, guitar (1969-)

- Bob Millar -- percussion, harmonica (1969-70)

- RIchard Palmer -- guitar, vocals (1969-70)

- Dougie Thomson -- bass (replaced Frank Farrell) (1972-73)

- Dave Winthrop -- sax, woodwinds (1970-72)

 

 

 

- Bees Make Honey (Rob Benberg)

- Alan Bown (John Anthony Helliwell)

- Roger Hodgson (solo efforts)

 

 


 

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Gene: progressive

Title:  Supertramp

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-3149

Country/State: UK

Year: 1970

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: minor ring and edge wear

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5471

Price: $8.00

 

 

Funny that I can tell my age by the fact 1970s culture seems to be regaining some semblance of popularity with younger people.  For goodness sakes, rappers Gym Class Heroes sampled 'Take a Look At My Girlfriend' for their hit 'Cupid's Chokehold'.  That got me thinking I'd go back an reacquaint myself with Supertramp's early catalog.

 

With backing from friend/sponsor/Dutch millionaire Stanley August Miesegaes, in 1969 singer/keyboardist/drummer Rick Davies decided to form a band.  He placed an ad in the English music newspaper Melody Maker, recruiting singer/guitarist/keyboard player Roger Hodgson, drummer Robert Millar, and guitarist Richard Palmer.  Originally known as Daddy, within a couple of months they'd opted for a name change, deciding on Supertramp based on a W.H. Davies book.  With help from Miesegaes the group attracted the attention of A&M Records, releasing their self-titled album in early 1970.  I'll readily admit the self-produced. "Supertramp" didn't do a lot for me when I first heard it.  In fact I remember actually getting rid of my original copy.  A couple of years later I found a cheap copy at a yard sale and decided to give it another shot.  Same impression the second time around.  Luckily I put it in my 'listen to again' pile 'cause the third time around the album began to reveal some of its charms to me.  While I've seen the set described as being progressive, that's not a particularly apt description.  Yeah, there were certainly progressive elements to be found in tracks like the ballad 'Aubade And I Am Not Like the Other Birds of Prey' and 'Words Unspoken', but those were far and few between.  By the same token anyone looking for something along the lines of their late-1970s commercial breakthroughs is likely to be disappointed.  'It's A Long Road' and '' were surprisingly mainstream rockers, but again they were atypical.  That left most of the collection sporting a laidback, mid tempo feel that had a habit of wandering around the place (check out 'Nothing To Show' or the 12 minute 'Try Again').  Stuff like 'Maybe I'm a Beggar' (with a nice guitar solo jumpin' out about midway through) and 'Shadow Song' didn't necessarily jump put at you, but given a chance the subtle hooks and nifty performances had a way of growing on you. Personal favorite - the rocking segments of 'Try Again' .  In spite of a slot at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, the album proved a commercial non-entity in the UK, and didn't even see an American release.  In fact, it wasn't until 1977 and the band's breakthrough success with "Breakfast In America" that A&M raided its corporate vaults electing to release the set domestically.  Benefiting from a curious, or perhaps confused audience that didn't realize this wasn't new material, the collection actually managed to hit # 158 on the pop charts.   Adding to the group's problems guitarist Palmer suddenly quit the group in 1970.  He was followed out the door by drummer Millar.   

 

"Supertramp" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Surely

2.) It's A Long Road

3.) Aubade And I Am Not Like the Other Birds of Prey

4.) Words Unspoken

5.) Maybe I'm a Beggar

6.) Home Again

 

(side 2)

1.) Nothing To Show

2.) Shadow Song

3.) Try Again

4.) Surely (instrumental)

 

 


Rating: *** (3 stars)

Gene: progressive

Title:  Crime of the Century

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-3647

Country/State: UK

Year: 1974

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: minor ring and edge wear

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 1735

Price: $5.00

 

In my case, Supertramp stands as one of those 1970s guilty pleasures I'm a little embarrassed to admit to.  It may have something to do with the fact their latter stage work seemed to dominate the top-40 airwaves during my high school years, merely reminding me of our lost youth ...  who knows.  On the other hand it's kind of funny to hear one's 17 year son humming "The Logical Song" ... where in the world did he hear that one?

 

Released in the wake of their split with long time benefactor/Dutch millionaire Stanley Miesegase, 1974's "Crime of the Century" found the band moving in pursuit of a more commercial orientation.  Recorded during an extended stay at a farm in Southcombe, Somerset, Richard Davies and Roger Hodgson were again responsible for all of the material, though this time out financial necessities saw the focus shift to shorter, more radio-friendly material.  Produced by Ken Scott, the results were surprisingly impressive, offering up a mix of keyboard dominated tracks the highlighted catchy melodies and interesting song structures.  The album quickly spun off a pair of radio hits via the singles "Bloody Well Right" b/w "" (A&M catalog number AM-1660) and "Dreamer" b/w "" (A&M catalog number AM-).  Peaking at # 38 the LP also provided the band with their first true American commercial success.

 

"Crises? What Crises?" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) School    (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 5:34

2.) Bloody Well Right   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 4:31

3.) Hide In Your Shell   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 6:48

4.) Asylum   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 6:43

 

(side 2)

1.) Dreamer   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 3:31

2.) Rudy   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 7:19

3.) If Everyone was Listening   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 4:04

4.) Crime of the Century   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 5:36

 

 

 

 


Rating: *** (3 stars)

Gene: progressive

Title:  Crises? What Crises?

Company: A&M

Catalog: SP-4560

Country/State: UK

Year: 1975

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: original inner sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 1736

Price: $5.00

 

Co-produced by Ken Scott and the band, to us 1975's "Crises? What Crises?" stands as another step in the band's transition towards a more commercial identity.  With the material again written by Richard Davies and Roger Hodgson, tracks such as "Lady" and "Sister Moonshine" is quite commercial, though it isn't nearly as impressive as the previous set.  Elsewhere tracks such as "A Soapbox Opera" and "The Meaning" ensured there was still plenty of progressive-oriented material for older fans, though it didn't do a great deal for our ears. Commercially the set didn't do bad, peaking at # 44.

  

"Crises? What Crises?" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Easy Does It   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 

2.) Sister Moonshine   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 

3.) Ain't Nobody But Me   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 

4.) A Soapbox Opera   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 

5.) Another Man's Woman   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 

 

(side 2)

1.) Lady   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 

2.) Poor Boy   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 

3.) Just a Normal Day   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 

4.) The Meaning   (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 

5.) Two of Us    (Roger Hodgson - Richard Davies) - 

 

Courtesy of YouTube you can see a performance of the title track:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVPhVV1dYd0

 

 

 

 

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