Even In The Quietest Moments


A & M, 1977


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Most of the world didn't discover Supertramp until 1979's Breakfast in America, their sixth album. By that point, the band had evolved its progressive pop past into a more commercial sound that achieved the massive success that had eluded them.

But Breakfast was not their best album -- that honor goes to Crime Of The Century, which fused rock, progressive tendencies and pop in a more workable and less cloying format. It encapsulated both rock ("Bloody Well Right") and beautiful instrumental passages (the title track) and even spawned a handful of hits, but it never really sounded like the band was aiming for the mainstream.

That sentiment is evident on 1977's Even In The Quietest Moments, which neither hints at what was to come two years later nor represents a step forward from my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Crime or 1975's forgotten Crisis? What Crisis? It is, however, a solid Supertramp disc that those interested in the band should check out.

Everyone knows the hit "Give A Little Bit," a simple and catchy 12-string acoustic ditty that's one of those songs every beginning guitarist learns. It's also notable for being one of the few times Supertramp did not use their trademark electric piano, indulge in pretentious lyrics or go overboard in any way, and it remains one of the band's most solid songs.

But it's not the best here; that honor goes to the title track and "Downstream." The former is a six-minute epic, beginning with birds chirping and giving way to a plucked acoustic, which builds in intensity before the drums finally kick in. It's one of the group's best moments, made even better by the subsequent "Downstream," a gorgeous piano ballad with one of Rick Davies' best ever vocal performances.

Those two and "Babaji" represent the best sequence on any Supertramp album, mostly because they's only been sparingly played on the radio but are just as strong as, say, "Goodbye Stranger." And "Babaji" isn't a great song by itself, but Roger Hodgson rescues it with his singing, imploring "Is it time to know" repeatedly in the choruses and sounding more desperate each time as the band swells.

Rock purists despise Supertramp because of their polite and precise ways, which I won't deny. There aren't many moments of fun or spontaneity here, and the whole affair sounds manners and precise. If this was a Phil Collins record that might be ok, but obviously Supertramp has other goals, which doesn't always work with thier sound. "From Now On" and "Lover Boy" are the worst offenders here, both six-minute tracks that drag on and on ("Lover Boy" even fades out and then comes back, a cardinal sin unless you're the Beatles). And the less said about the overlong, excruciatingly boring "Fool's Overture," the better.

What this leaves is a disc of four great songs and three boring ones, though the production sheen and precision of the performances renders the boring songs at least listenable. It's not a CD you need to have, but it has enough moments to make it worth listening to now and again.

Rating: B-

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© 2006 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of A & M, and is used for informational purposes only.