Bob C. Benberg- Drums, Percussion
Rodger Hodgson- Vocals, Guitar, Pianos
John Anthony Helliwell- Saxophones, Clarinets, Vocals
Dougie Thomson- Bass
Richard Davies- Vocals, Keyboards, Harmonica
Ken Scott- Producer
- Bloody Well Right
- Hide in Your Shell
- If Everyone Was Listening
- Crime of the Century
Crime of the Century was the album that got Supertramp fame and accolade. I have yet to hear the ones preceding this one, but seeing as Supertramp are a prog/art rock group I can probably guess the reasons why it didn't work.
I came to Supertramp through Breakfast in America, so I was expecting a certain sort of poppish sound when I got CotC. Instead what I got was something... dark.
Now don't get me wrong. This is not "Satan, Lord of all that is evil" darkness (Roger Hodgson sounds like one of the Bee gees for God's sake) but it is certainly not straightforward light and airy as can be. These guys have rather a dark sense of humour. Sometimes it's hard to say if they're joking or being perfectly serious.
The sound is harder and more rocking in places then I expected as well and subsequently I ended up enjoying this one more then Breakfast in America. As singers, Hodgson has a rather unique voice (at least unique for the times) while Davies just sounds plain good. The songs are consistent throughout although some stand out more then others.
The album opens with a strong piece of harmonica and launches into School which you could take seriously as an attack on education but frankly I get too caught up with the awesome pacing and music, to really get a message from it. I know it's proggy to make social commentary but thankfully this isn't too pretentious to get in the way of the music. This leads into Bloody Well Right which is just feckin' brilliant. It's funny, for starters (something prog rock seriously lacks at times), rocks plenty and actually has some meaning (in fact if I'm not mistaken it's taking the complete piss out of the previous song or maybe that's just me). Great piece.
This then leads to Hide in Your Shell which to be honest is good, but not that great. It's not as strong as the last two, but they Supertramp have enough musical moxie to keep me interested. The lyrics are actually quite sad upon further listening but it's kinda overshadowed by the sheer strangeness of Asylum. That song is where their dark sense of humour really shines. I cannot seriously tell you if this was meant to be taken seriously or not. When Rick Davies sings the line "Please don't arrange to have me sent to no asylum" you feel at least a momentary twinge of sadness. But when Roger Hodgson comes in you get the feeling they're taking the piss. And you get the same feeling with the ending with the strange noises Davies makes which are both a little disturbing and comical. A great track overall though.
Then comes Dreamer. Bloody brilliant really. Underlies really most of what Supertramp was about. It forever builds up getting stronger but never overpowering that light feel. For such a light song the lyrics sure are sure damn cynical, though.
After breaking out of all those sad songs with Dreamer we return to them with Rudy. Or at least that's what you think... then the electric guitar jumps down your spine and sends the piece flying. But to be honest I've got no idea what it's about and really could care less. More electric guitar sections!
If Everyone was Listening is the last song before the ending. I quite like the clarinet parts and Hodgson's voice actually takes a certain quality that really works. It's as if something of this theatrical quality was made for him. And then comes the ending the, title track.
Holy crap. It's like a wall of darkness just crashing down around your ears. I didn't think Davies could even sound like that. That ending coda... it's worth listening to this. Trust me.
As an album it's worth buying. There's a Dark Side of the Moon vibe that runs through it, but Supertramp have pulled off art rock with a good amount of dark humour, theatrics and of course Wurlitzer piano.