Monday, 12 August 2019

Supertramp - Breakfast In America (1979)

Take a look at my girlfriend....

  

Released in 1979

Running time 45.54

After all those somewhat indulgent, proggy albums, Supertramp went full-on well-constructed clever pop with this one. It became their most successful album and was owned, I am sure, by many who may not necessarily have had any previous Supertramp albums in their collections. It seemed to be one of those albums that all sorts of people had, across the spectrum of musical tastes.

The old proggies didn't quite leave behind all their cheesecloth shirts, though - there is still a fair amount of that sort of thing on here. Back in 1979, there was certainly too much for my liking.

TRACK LISTING

1. Gone Hollywood
2. The Logical Song
3. Goodbye Stranger
4. Breakfast In America
5. Oh Darling
6. Take The Long Way Home
7. Lord It Is Mine
8. Just Another Nervous Wreck
9. Casual Conversations
10. Child Of Vision                                           

Gone Hollywood has some of those proggy bits, particularly in the vocal style, although the backing saxophone is very jazzy and atmospheric. It was a bit of a mish-mash of styles and sounds, however, and a million miles away from the conciseness of punk and new wave. The sound is great, though, and the drum, piano and guitar interplay is great, but eclectic music like this was anathema to me back then. I can appreciate it a bit more now.

The Logical Song was a huge hit and is a far more cohesive and structured song than many in their canon, but it still allows room for their oblique lyrics. The track has some more killer saxophone in it too. The group really hadn't done anything as well-conceived and poppy as this thus far in their career. Goodbye Stranger almost sounds like an early Billy Joel, piano-based rock track. Like something from Streetlife Serenade. Once again, it is nothing much like anything Supertramp had done before. The harmonious high-pitched vocal bit at the end gives it a catchy appeal.

Breakfast In America is impossibly infectious, but I always found it a little irritating as well, although the saxophone bits and the tuba(?) are great. Oh Darling is another very attractive track. Those old Supertramp innovations and inventiveness are still there, but there is far less rambling indulgence now.


Take The Long Way Home also became a very well-known song. It is a pretty perfect piece of grandiose pop/rock. Lord It Is Mine is a plaintive, piano-backed ballad that eventually breaks out into a big, grand chorus.

Just Another Nervous Wreck is an upbeat slice of brassy, thumping rock. The tone cools down a bit for the laid-back groove of Casual Conversations. More excellent saxophone features on this one. Keith Helliwell really was a master of his instrument.

All these tracks had been very different to each other. That was Supertramp's great strength - no two tracks were the same. Pretty much everything on any of their albums was different from everything else. Child Of Vision reminds of Billy Joel's All For Leyna in its introduction and also of Supertramp's own Dreamer. The piano solo bit half way through is outstanding.

This has been a very enjoyable and accessible album, not as obscure and wilfully experimental as some of the others. They were an odd group, Supertramp, I have said before how impossible to categorise they were. I am sure they liked it like that.

B+

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