Sunday, 11 August 2019

Supertramp - Crisis? What Crisis? (1975)

  

Released on 14 September 1975

Running time 47.24

This album followed on from the surprisingly successful "Crime Of The Century" and was, by the group's own admittance, hastily conceived, written and recorded. It doesn't really show, to be honest, and this is a similarly quirky, adventurous, genre-defying offering as its predecessor had been. The Supertramp that many came to know from the "Breakfast In America" era, with its commercial appeal, had not arrived as yet. You get the impression that neither the group nor its fans considered commercial success as important. The group put out material that they wanted to, and if people liked it, all well and good. A lot of it has an experimental nature to it, and therein lies its appeal, it can also be its downfall at times, though, as there can be the occasional proggy indulgence.

TRACK LISTING

1. Easy Does It
2. Sister Moonshine
3. Ain't Nobody But Me
4. A Soapbox Opera
5. Another Man's Woman
6. Lady
7. Poor Boy
8. Just A Normal Day
9. The Meaning
10. Two Of Us                                         

"Easy Does It" is an extremely low-key, almost Oriental-sounding quiet number to open the album with, with some big, proggy, sharp acoustic guitar lines at times and that infectious Japanese bit floating around as well. It merges seamlessly into the prog/folk/rock of "Sister Moonshine", which has some beautiful bass/acoustic guitar/drum interplay. It has some excellent guitar too. While I am not a huge fan of Supertramp's proggy tendencies, they are instrumentally very inventive and competent, coming up with several appealing parts within the same track. Check out the wah-wah guitar that suddenly appears on here and the flute near the end. The sound quality is impressive too - full, bassy and warm. It was also a track that had been played live by the band before its recording and appearance on this album.


"Ain't Nobody But Me" is a chunky, slightly John Lennon-esque number. It is a track full of jazzy verve and vitality, plus some big solid rock parts. Keith Helliwell's saxophone is superb as well, as it always was. There are soulful aspects and hints of early rock 'n' roll in there too. Supertramp really were an inventive group. "A Soapbox Opera" has a similar piano on it to "Bloody Well Right" as it pounds away. Unfortunately, it lapses into some slightly indulgent wistful patches before the muscular parts return. "Another Man's Woman" has some infectious, upbeat rock parts and Who-esque parts in places. Some of the guitar is excellent. It even has some quiet, funky bits in there in the middle, the piano solo is superb too - you really don't know what is coming from minute to minute on a Supertramp song. They were quite unique and utterly impossibly to pigeonhole.

"Lady" recycles the keyboard riff from "Dreamer" a bit too closely for comfort, but it is still a good track, as indeed "Dreamer" was. It has the same staccato but melodic appeal, with a big bassy drum sound and some punchy brass backing. "Poor Boy" sounds at the beginning as if it is maybe one of the tracks that was rushed on to the album, but as it progresses, it develops a fetching laid-back soulful, Andrew Gold-style sound. It is enhanced by a lovely clarinet solo. Another fine piece of soully rock is found in "Just A Normal Day".

"The Meaning" tends to repeat "if you know what the meaning is" a bit, but it again has some sublime saxophone and a catchy melody. "The Two Of Us" is a plaintive, organ-driven ballad to end on, with some classically-influenced keyboards.

I always found Roger Hodgson's vocals a bit proggy in his diction and delivery, and, back in 1975, there was a lot of other music I preferred to this, I have to admit. That said, I always had a passing interest in Supertramp's ingenuity. There was a place for them, but certainly not at my top table.

B-

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