Crime Of The Century

Supertramp

A&M Records, 1974

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/11/2005

Opening with a lone harmonica, this signaled the advent of commercial-era Supertramp, an era which would result in three great albums and two mediocre ones.

I would venture to say this is the band's best album, mainly because it's strong throughout while retaining the Supertramp feel. It's darker than Breakfast In America and poppier than Even In The Quietest Moments, and far better than Crisis? What Crisis?

Why? The band knows how to build up tension, not just with the instrumental passages but with the lighter pop tunes as well. There is a definite mood in the beginning of "School," which explodes into the rock part of the track, which then gives way to a piano solo that Billy Joel would have paid for.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This gives way to "Bloody Well Right," with a playful piano intro and Roger Hodgson doing his best David Gilmour singing voice over the verse (Gilmour returned the favor by playing guitar on "Brother Where You Bound" in 1985). The horns lend a bit of flavor to the song, but it mostly gets by on guitar crunch and attitude.

"Hide In Your Shell" is a slower piece that builds up to a more powerful climax three times, altering the ending a little each time, while "Asylum" is the only forgettable song here, not really picking up steam until the end with some annoying yelping over a stop-start rock passage.

"Dreamer" was the biggest hit here (in 1980, six years later), a short but sprightly piano-driven piece that -- like most of the songs here -- starts simply and builds in intensity, adding instruments until the explosive finale and, finally, a lone xylophone fading off in the distance. It's the song that exposed the band to America, and rightly so.

The second side is a lot more progressive than the first, with the 7-minute "Rudy" acting as a melding of Queen and Jethro Tull and an Elton John-like piano piece called "If Everyone Was Listening" that would have fit well on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. But the centerpiece of the album is the title track, which starts with a short and unsettling rock song before moving into the coda, a three-minute piano/guitar/sax duel that is among the most passionate ever put onto a rock record.

Six of these eight songs made it on the band's Very Best Of, which should say it all. This is Supertramp's best album and a high point of the progressive-pop subcategory, but it's also a testament to the emotion prog-rock bands were often accused of lacking.

Rating: A-

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