Hidden Treasures Artist Showcase - Supertramp

Time for another Artist Showcase and I think its about time Supertramp get some love from the CRB crew. There's been some love shown here certainly for Breakfast In America, Brother Where You Bound, and a fine Lost Album post (see below), but the site is lacking a more comprehensive sampling, so - as with Mighty Mouse - here I come to save the day!

So to fill in the gaps were going to focus heavily on the front end of the catalog and touch lightly on the later superstardom. No Live releases here either... Just pure unadulterated Supertramp Hodgson/Davies style...

Formed in 1969 under the name Daddy their music was initially categorised as progressive rock, they later incorporated a combination of traditional rock, pop and art rock into their music. To avoid confusion with the similarly named Daddy Longlegs, the band changed its name to "Supertramp", a moniker inspired by The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by William Henry Davies. The band's work is marked by the songwriting of founders Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson and the prominent use of Wurlitzer electric piano and saxophone.

Though their albums were generally far more successful than their singles, Supertramp did enjoy a number of major hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including Hodgson's songs "Give a Little Bit", "The Logical Song", "Take the Long Way Home", "Dreamer", "Breakfast in America", "It's Raining Again", and Davies' songs, "Bloody Well Right", "Goodbye Stranger", and "Cannonball". None of which you will find in this weeks playlist! Away we go...

PLAYLIST --> http://www.podsnack.com/CA69EFD9E8C/a1j5epjn


1 - It's A Long Road

All the album's lyrics were written by Richard Palmer, since none of the other members of Supertramp were willing to write any. Palmer himself later said that he considered writing lyrics "like having to do school work" at the time. The music to the songs was all composed jointly by Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson.

The album was recorded entirely in night sessions running from 12 am to 6 am, due to a superstition on the part of the band members (fuelled by their having heard that Traffic and Spooky Tooth recorded at late hours) that there was some "magic" to recording at night. Hodgson later recalled "Invariably our engineer, Robin Black, would fall asleep on us in the middle of the sessions, which were pretty intense as it was, because we fought a lot with Richard Palmer." He was fond of the resulting album, however, and commented over a decade later that "It was very naïve, but it has a good mood to it."

Indelibly Stamped

2 - Forever

Roger Hodgson later said Indelibly Stamped was "the survival album to put ourselves back in the good books of our manager. There was no theme worked out for the album and we were floundering." New members Kevin Currie, Frank Farrell, and Dave Winthrop were all recruited shortly before the recording sessions.

Supporting tours for the album began with a series of shows at the P.N. Club in Munich, which had been the site for Supertramp's first public performances. Rick Davies described their stage show at the time as "all Rock and Roll really. We used to get people up on the bloody stage and it was just chaos, hopping away doing about three encores, but there was meat and potatoes behind it. No more or less people would come to the next gig." This was the last album Roger Hodgson played bass on during his tenure with Supertramp.

Supertramp came into their own on their third album, 1974's Crime of the Century, as their lineup gelled but, more importantly, so did their sound. The group still betrayed a heavy Pink Floyd influence, particularly in its expansive art rock arrangements graced by saxophones, but Supertramp isn't nearly as spooky as Floyd -- they're snarky collegiate elitists, an art rock variation on Steely Dan or perhaps a less difficult 10cc, filled with cutting jokes and allusions, best heard on "Bloody Well Right."

Crisis? What Crisis?

3 - Lady

Crisis? What Crisis? may not have given the band any chart success, but it did help them capture a fan base that had no concern for Supertramp's commercial sound. With Rick Davies showing off his talent on the keyboards, and Roger Hodgson's vocals soaring on almost every track, they managed to win back their earlier progressive audience while gaining new fans at the same time. Crisis received extensive air play on FM stations, especially in Britain, and the album made it into the Top 20 there and fell just outside the Top 40 in the U.S. "Ain't Nobody But Me," "Easy Does It," and the beautiful "Sister Moonshine" highlight Supertramp's buoyant and brisk instrumental and vocal alliance, while John Helliwell's saxophone gives the album even greater width. The songwriting is sharp, attentive, and passionate, and the lyrics showcase Supertramp's ease at invoking emotion into their music, which would be taken to even greater heights in albums to come.

Even In The Quietest Moments

4 - From Now On

This 1977 album finds Supertramp indulging in some of their quietest moments, spending almost the album in a subdued mood. Actually, the cover photo picture of a snow-covered piano sitting on a mountain gives a good indication of what the album sounds like: it's elegant yet mildly absurd, witty but kind of obscure. It also feels more pop than it actually is, despite the opening single, "Give a Little Bit," their poppiest song to date, as well as their biggest hit. If the rest of the album doesn't boast another song as tight or concise as this -- "Downstream" comes close but it doesn't have the same hook.

With Breakfast in America, Supertramp had a genuine blockbuster hit, topping the charts for four weeks in the U.S. and selling millions of copies worldwide; by the 1990s, the album had sold over 18 million units across the world. Although their previous records had some popular success, they never even hinted at the massive sales of Breakfast in America. Then again, Supertramp's earlier records weren't as pop-oriented as Breakfast. The majority of the album consisted of tightly written, catchy, well-constructed pop songs, like the hits "The Logical Song," "Take the Long Way Home," and "Goodbye Stranger." Supertramp still had a tendency to indulge themselves occasionally, but Breakfast in America had very few weak moments. It was clearly their high-water mark.

...Famous Last Words...

5 - Crazy

This was the last album that Roger Hodgson made with Supertramp before seeking a solo career, and he made sure that radio would take kindly to his last hurrah with the band. Sporting an airy and overly bright pop sheen, ...Famous Last Words... put two singles on the charts, with the poignant "My Kind of Lady" peaking at number 31 and the effervescent smile of "It's Raining Again" going to number 11. The album itself went Top Ten both in the U.S. and in the U.K., eventually going gold in America.

The Davies-led Supertramp released Brother Where You Bound in 1985. The album was a deliberate step away from the pop approach of their last two studio albums, and reached number 20 in the UK charts and number 21 in the US charts. It included the Top 30 hit single "Cannonball", along with the title track, a 16-minute exposition on Cold War themes highlighted by guitar solos from Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. A 20-minute film of the title track by Rene Daalder was used to promote the album.

1987's Free as a Bird experimented in heavily synthesised music, such as "I'm Beggin' You", which reached number 1 on the US dance charts. The stylistic change was generally not well-received, however, and the album itself reached only number 93 in the UK and 101 in the US.  This album was alos featured as a Lost/Forgotten Album - click here to hear and read more on that.

After 1988's tour, the group fragmented.

In 1996, Davies re-formed Supertramp. Four new members were added. The result of this reunion was Some Things Never Change, a new studio album released in March 1997 that echoed the earlier Supertramp sound and reached number 74 in the UK.

After a three-year hiatus, Supertramp released in April 2002 a new studio album entitled Slow Motion (their last one to date), followed by a 2002 world tour entitled "One More for the Road Tour". In 2015, Supertramp announced its first tour in more than four years: a 25-date European tour entitled "Supertramp Forever" set to kick off on 3 November 2015 in Porto, Portugal, to include a London show on 7 December at The O2 Arena and to end on 11 December 2015 at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, Netherlands. However, on 4 August 2015, the band announced that the tour was cancelled due to health issues affecting Rick Davies, the band's founder being diagnosed with multiple myeloma and having begun aggressive treatment to combat the disease.

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    Niels (Mod)

    Good topic!

    "Crime" is a great album, and I keep on returning to that one, each time I want to hear me some Supertramp.

    1. I don't think, I've heard this album. I like this track. Hodgson was always my favorite member of the band.

    2. I think, I've heard this album, but only once. Usually the songs gets a little less great, when it's a Davies-track. This is a typical example of that. I have no idea, how they wrote the songs, but I guess they wrote the songs, they sang lead on?! Not a bad track, but too slow and simple, to be really good, as the first track.

    3. I know, I've heard this album. A great Hodgson-track and again prove, that he was the McCartney of that band Sounds almost like a track from Hodgson's very fine solo-album from 1984. I love that album.

    4. Davies again, and it's a bit boring. Not bad, but not the genius-sound of hodgson. With that said, I realy like Davies tracks on COTC.

    5. And we turn from good to great once again. I clearly remember when this album was released. I didn't buy it, wearing my Iron Maiden T-shirt, but I remember the reviews wasn't that good. This is not one of Hodgson's best, but at least the 3rd best track here.

    I've tried before to really check out all the Supertramp-albums, at least until "Famous Last Words", and it might be around time to try once again.

    Supertramp, 10CC, City Boy, ELO and Queen really are the sound of the 70's to me.

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      RJhog (Admin)

      First, the songs...

      It's A Long Road - This one is nice.  It makes me think stylistically of Santana.  The bass is terrific.

      Forever - Not crazy about this one.

      Lady - Ha, when he sings "ooh la la la la", it makes me think of School Of Rock.

      From Now On - I've listened to this album in the last couple of months.  I immediately recognized this tune, and I like the song and album.

      Crazy - Nothing special here.

      Now, I know my comments were brief, but that's because I listened today at work and really could only jot down a few thoughts.  I mentioned the bass on the first track, but it's really very good on all of these songs.  I like both of their voices.  Not really sure if I prefer one over the other or not.  I've picked up several Supertramp albums over the last couple of years, and Breakfast In America is by far the best for me.  But I do like Even In The Quietest Moments, as I said earlier.  

      Now, the part that probably won't be popular with Scott and Jon (Niels probably won't care because he pretty much thinks everything is crap anyway), but Supertramp seems to have a bit of a Jethro Tull effect on me.  I bet Scott knows what that means.  I like individual songs and a song here and there, but I'm not typically in any kind of mood to sit through a bunch of it.  I'm sure that I will continue to give it a shot here and there, and you never know, one day it might click.

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      I used to really dislike FLW, but have come to enjoy it the last few years for some reason. IRA is still a silly song, but there's some really good songs on the album especially DLMN which is, interestingly, the last song on the album. That would be a good theme for a list I would think.

      So the first song sounds like a product of the late 60's/early 70's and it's really quite good. I think I have it on a comp, maybe. Maybe not.

      As for the second song, I can only think of boobies for some reason. Could be I watched a couple episodes of MWC.  That would do it. 

      I have the rest of the albums featured and C?WC? and EITQM are really good albums. Already talked about FLW so don't need to go thru THAT again.

      I might be in the majority, but one of my favoritest Supertramp albums is BWYB and I think I am one of the few. Had it when it came out and played it A LOT. TO me it ranks right up there with COTC and BIA and it might not be number one in my list, but it is most probably number two, right after COTC.  

      Oh, and no matter how many times I listen to STNC, I just can't get into it. It echoes early Supertramp? Really? It's just a bunch of ballads. That's it. 

      And that was it.