Supertramp -‘Crime Of the Century’ (UMC)
Crime Of The Century was Supertramp’s third album, and the one that broke them commercially on both sides of the Atlantic. Like their later album Breakfast In America, this is an album that has held up well, and the prog aspects of their earlier records has been reined in a bit, showing a band who could write decent pop songs. The closing, title track is a sign that prog could reign in its excesses (which was what put this humble scribe off it as a genre for so many years).
Though he was somewhat ambivalent towards the album, legendary rock critic Robert Christgau described it as ‘Queen without preening. Yes without pianistics and meter shifts.’ This is true – in a good way, and with no disrespect to either of those bands. This may have been straightahead rock in a pre-punk landscape, but with songs like the hit ‘Dreamer’ and the US hit ‘Bloody Well Right’ this beats today’s indie-by-numbers bands hands down.
Whilst there’s a vague nod towards a theme of loneliness, this is not a concept album per se. And there’s a particularly British sort of angst in the lyrics of ‘Bloody Well Right’ that have probably rung true for so many ‘So you think your schooling is phoney/I guess it’s hard not to agree/You say it all depends on money/and who is in your family tree.’
I’m more familiar with Breakfast, but this album reveals itself more and more with each listen. The bonus album of a concert at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1975 is a worthy addition to the album. The hipsters will probably never get it -and that’s utterly their loss.
Crime Of The Century is out now on UMC.