George Starostin's Reviews



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Dan Miller <> (28.12.2000)

Well said. Very difficult to find, hitless and obscure, Supertramp is a terrific debut and a hidden gem! In terms of progressive rock, there's not an album quite like this anywhere! This was back when Roger Hodgson played bass (and he was a great bass player - too bad he didn't keep it up). Richard Palmer was the guitarist who could fuse a kind of metallic violence and acoustic charm no other progressive guitarist could match (Dave Gilmour is a distant second). Richard Millar was an agile, graceful jazz drummer. "Try Again" (heavy metal - even some Crimson-style noodling), "It's A Long Road" (vintage white funk - not a bad thing - and, yes, great bass line!) and "Words Unspoken" (tender but by-no-means cheesy ballad) are the highlights. "Shadow Song" IS a cheesy - and unnecessary - ballad, but "Aubade" has enough of a beat to keep it interesting (plus, great intro bass lick - best part of the song). Turns out Rick Davies sings lead on only one song ("Nothing to Show"), meaning all the rest of the vocals are handled by Hodgson (before his voice became annoying - it's actually quite good here) and Palmer. Also, very cool cover - what the hell does this "flower face" mean? (Peter Gabriel must have seen it!) Nothing, and who cares? Supertramp succeeds because it is the debut of an at-the-time-unknown progressive rock upstart that successfully fused psychedelic imagery/poetry with intermittent funk/heavy-metal aggression. Supertramp the band would never sound ANYTHING like this again. Shame.

Bob Josef <> (28.04.2003)

Can't add much to your review, except to say that the sound is thoroughly uncommercial and fairly dark, so the record was doomed to failure. But the songwriting talent is definitely there, as well as the musicianship. In fact, it's much stronger than the second album. And there isn't an overabuse of keyboards that made their later sound so annoying at times. "Surely" is surely the standout track here, an absolutely gorgeous ballad that deserves a place in any Supertramp anthology.

Pablo Aire <> (10.07.2004)

When I have more time, I may send longer comments on many of the artists and albums you review. For now, as you're apparently also interested in trivia and information, I must tell you I'm listening to the album "Supertramp" right now while I read your review of it (I mean their self-titled debut album), and I definitely recognise some parts of the track "Try again" being derivative of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Tocata y fuga en Re menor" (I don't know how you call this piece in English, I'm Argentinean). I mean, the melodies in some parts are exactly like the Bach tunes in that piece. I never mind about that (I would only feel "angry" about it if the artist said something like "We never borrowed anything from Bach nor anyone, all the tunes came out of our heads", that would be a lie) so I don't think less of this song or the album because of this. I still like the album, it feels fresh and sincere, not as many future Supertramp projects.


Bob Josef <> (22.12.2001)

I just can't get into this record, no matter how may times I listen to it. The band's later staccato pop keyboards and Roger's falsetto vocals could get really repetitive after a while, but this isn't that great an alternative. The diversity of the album is totally random -- the band is wandering all over the place stylistically, looking for a direction, and almost foundering in the process. The rather dark "Rosie" is the best song here, but the only other memorable moment is really rather negative. Is it me, or does Richard Palmer sing the line "nigger in the woodpile" in the stupid macho rocker "Potter"? Not only offensive, but POINTLESSLY offensive. If it is Palmer, it's a good thing they got rid of him.


Rich Bunnell <> (02.12.2000)

You seem to prefer the songwriting and vocal stylings of Rick Davies more than those of Roger Hodgson - personally, despite Roger's annoying high-pitched voice, I think that his songs are generally more well-written. They stick to the style that Supertramp eventually proved to be best at - succinct, catchy pop. Rick's songs too often just tended to go off on annoying jazzy go-nowhere tangents; his songs on the following two albums really, really demonstrate this this flaw.

As for Crime, I don't challenge people when they say that they hate the album (I mean, it's Supertramp) but I absolutely adore it. Every one of the songs besides "Dreamer" and "If Everyone Was Listening"(I think the Lamb Lies Down song you're thinking of is "Chamber Of 32 Doors") is like its own little wonderfully-crafted mini-epic. The best song, granted, is "School" (which has one of the greatest build-ups ever) but "Bloody Well Right" and "Rudy," which sound absolutely nothing alike, are extremely impressive numbers as well. This stuff is NOT prog whatsoever, but on the whole, it seems to be the kind of stuff that Styx tried, but failed miserably, to do. I give it a ten.

Erik Rupard <> (10.12.2000)

Agree with Rich's comments above; Supertramp is deservedly one of the "ants" (or less), but this album is an improbable classic, with a nice, not-too-obvious flow of themes. On this album as opposed to their others, the 'Tramps manage to strike a perfect balance between Davies' clearly limited songwriting skills and Hodgson's excessive pessimistic weightiness. Net effect is an album that addresses some serious themes, with some great music. By the way, George: unless you've got a damn high bitrate mp3 and a solid computer sound system (speakers that "attach themselves" to the side of the monitor are automatically disqualified) you are doing yourself a disservice: this is one of the best studio productions in history, ranking up there with the best of Floyd or Steely Dan. The buildup on "School" which Rich mentions (and I agree that it is amazing!) is made all the better by this unbelievably crisp, immaculate recording. Grab it on CD, my man, and see if you don't agree.

Jeff Melchior <> (15.12.2000)

Like many Canadians, Supertramp are close to my heart because of their willingness to play so often up here (even if it was kind of before my time), even in the holes-in-the-walls like the area I live. They weren't the greatest band in the world, but they had an undeniable sincerity in their music that pushed somewhat pedestrian material into the hearts of millions. Crime of the Century is their finest moment for my money. I love the way 'Bloody Well Right' segues from almost heavy metal to the "Dreamer"-style chorus. 'Hide In Your Shell' is a simply beautiful song. If any other band were to have done 'Dreamer', it would have been the stupidest song ever recorded, but Supertramp turn this dumb little ditty into a mini-epic (I love the part that builds up to the "Dreamer-Dreamer-Dreamer-DREAM ALIVE" line). The end isn't as memorable, but still pleasant.

Ryan Maffei <> (09.06.2001)

Sorry, there, George--I know you probably hate fanatics like this, who will support every obscure album their favorite band ever made no matter how obviously banal, but, though this isn't really the case, I've got to defend the album that I love.

I was always more a fan of the mid-period Hodgson-Davies-Helliwell-Thompson-Siebenberg Supertramp than the other incarnations, but none of the albums released by that lineup ever really measured up to Crime anyway. Face it--Crisis wasn't as well written, and too light; Breakfast in America (when you get to it) was far too poppy; and Even in the Quietest Moments was just too laid back and bluesy for me (though "Babaji" was definitely great). Why the group that released such a dark and lush masterpiece in 1974 became a band so humorously and commercially inclined so quickly is a both mystery and tragedy to me.

Beginning my song-by-song analysis: "School" has always been one of my favorites, and it's certainly one of the best songs on the album. It has nothing "danceable" about it, as you say; it doesn't possess even a glimmer of commerciality. It's a swelling epic, carried by Hodgson's rightfully dubbed "miserable" vocals, and introduces the listener to the theme of desperation that fuels this album's emotional power. There are harmonica solos, piano solos, and some great kids' screams (perhaps that's not a great thing to say, but hey, it certainly helps the atmosphere.)

"Bloody Well Right", despite the presence of a great keyboard solo, is (admittedly) little more that just a fun rocker. It's catchy and humorous, but doesn't contribute effectively to the overall feel of the record. That is, unlike the next track...

"Hide in Your Shell" is my absolute favorite here; how this incredible piece about a lovelorn subject and his misguided object of affection, constantly building toward a grandiose, utterly beautiful climax, can not move you, I will never know. Hodgson's vocals slip into that desperate whine near the end--it helps the effect immensely. And I would say that the subtle, background chorus of "So what's he gonna make her do, etc." near the end of the song are a suitable enough "gorgeous vocal hook" for anybody. Heartbreaking stuff--the Logical Song it's not.

"Asylum" I also adore; it's another great 'desperation' song, dealing with madness and the like; Davies shows he can be as emotionally powerful vocally as Hodgson without having to wail in a falsetto tone. I absolutely love the "Not Quite Right!" and other interjections at the end of the piece; it will probably induce mild insanity in the listener if he or she allows themselves to be immersed in the rampant atmosphere.

Here's the one point where I'll give in: I won't defend "Dreamer". The song's a piece of crap.

"Rudy", by contrast, is bloody well all right, but not up to the level of some of the other, more intense pieces on the album. I like some of the twists and turns in this long and complex piece, but it's merely as enjoyable, not as satisfying, as the darker stuff on the album.

"If Everyone Was Listening" is the climax of the recurring 'desperation' theme, and I think it works incredibly, whether it ripped off Genesis or not (hell, you didn't even like The Lamb Lies Down, so why bring up your theory?). It maintains the whole "there's no where else to go" concept remarkably, considering the song's a quiet little piano ballad. And it's a nice lead-in to the final track...

To argue with the closing piece would be heinous. It is an undeniably incredible piece of spiraling progressive rock, that builds up toward the ending, like the best songs on the record, and features some alternately lovely and ferocious performances. It's somewhat similar to Procol Harum's "Repent Walpurgis" I think, not because they sound alike, but because once it's done, you really can't do anything else. A more than formidable coda.

All in all, this record certainly has it's moments. And it is, in my mind, a masterpiece. I know it's sort of senseless to argue with a formidable three-and-a-half star rating, but the record never really got the acclaim I and many believe it deserved, and if contributing my opinion is the most I can do, than I'm glad to do it.

Thanks for listening! After all, if everyone was listening, you know, there'd be a chance that we could save this remarkable show...

Glenn Wiener <> (11.06.2001)

These are not mere songs. They are symphonies. And beautiful one's a that. Multi themes galore. 'School' is the real killer track with touching lyrics, a cool piano solo, and nice harmonica, guitar embellishments. 'Bloody Well Right' is kinda of goofy with those harmonies. The saxaphone and strings arangements just add to this batch. The two vocalists work well together if the tenor guy squeals a little too much in spots. This is a real keepsake.

<> (21.09.2001)

I think 'Rudy' deserves more credit...lots of musical variation, tempo change. It's far from cookie-cutter pop music with your standard intro/chorus/bridge/chorus/solo/end or whatever.

I also agree with your 'Asylum' sentiment...I like that song although I rarely hear it played on radio anymore


Rich Bunnell <> (12.12.2000)

Definitely a lesser followup. Roger's efforts are passable, since he takes the easy way out by writing lots of pretty, strummy acoustic songs that all sound exactly the same. Rick really drops the ball, though. "Ain't Nobody But Me" is okay, but not great (the song's needed intensity is only conveyed in concert) and the rest of his songs are boring, overly-ponderous jazz-prog crap, like nearly every single song he would write from this point on. I'd give the album a high six or a low seven.


Rich Bunnell <> (18.01.2001)

I like it a lot more than Crisis, since instead of being merely consistent and pretty, Roger's songs are absolutely wonderful. I really love "Fool's Overture," pompous and overlong as it is, and "Give A Little Bit" and the title track sound like his stuff from Crisis, only with melodies that actually jump out at you and make you remember them. "Babaji" is a really neat pounding piano-rocker (sort of), and I love it too. As for Rick, he manages to correct his previous mistakes somewhat by penning ONE memorable tune, "From Now On"(though I like you could do without the endless repetition of the chorus at the end). Otherwise, he's still wallowing in the same ponderous crap as before-- "Lover Boy" takes a stupid dopey uninteresting melody and then tries to make it sound important and progressive, and "Downstream" is simply one of the dullest songs in the entire Supertramp catalogue. As an EP with only Roger's tunes this one would net a very high 9/10, but Rick's bilge pulls it down to a low 8/10.

Jeff Melchior <> (18.01.2001)

BIg smiles all around for the review here - I love this album, even though it does have some elements that rub me the wrong way ('Lover Boy' is a good song but way too long). 'Give A Little Bit' is a beautiful song, ditto the title track. 'Downstream' is a nice song, although a trifle maudlin for my tastes. Canachuk trivia: the main synth line for 'Fool's Overture' actually served as the theme song for a major news program for several years up here in the ice and snow, starting not long after the song came out, in fact. As I said, Canada REALLY loves Supertramp. Quietest Moments still doesn't hold a candle to Crime of the Century, but it's easily my second favorite Supertramp album.

Scott Trockman <> (10.07.2001)

In the search to understand the motivation behind the odd lyrical style of Roger Hodgeson, one needn't look much further than the pages of the Holy Bible. His commitment to the world of spirituality is certainly no secret (although I could be imagining the whole thing due to my inherent distrust of western religion), and I applaud him for an open and truthful approach to his struggle with grasping the concept of a supernatural creator with his or her hands somehow involved in Roger's tiny existence. No asking for donations or drumming up bodies to attend services here, just a not-too-incredibly-complex look in to his inner conflicts over a loving God who would allow such suffering in the world. I'll stop putting words in to his mouth and just say that, in my opinion, it was the seething keyboard rifts and raucous vocals of Rick Davies that made the band a classic.


Rich Bunnell <> (25.12.2001)

This is the third installment in a "holy trinity" of sorts of albums that I really really loved from constant parental overplay when I was four years old, the other two being the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour and Camel's The Snow Goose, but I've said enough about those. This one hasn't aged quite as well in my mind - "Goodbye Stranger," for one, is lame (c'mon, Roger, let's just hear that chorus one more time!), "Casual Conversations" has absolutely no hook anywhere in sight for miles around and "Gone Hollywood" has a really cool intro (I love that piano fade-in) but then starts to meander after the first couple of verses. The rest is still top-quality material, though - "The Logical Song" and the title track still haven't worn on me from years of classic rock overplay, and I can't believe you completely glossed over "Take The Long Way Home" - come on George, it's the album's second-biggest hit! At least mention it for chrissake! "Child Of Vision" is spectacular too. I'll give the album a low-to-midrange eight, and state that the reason that the album became a huge hit was probably not because of the material on the album but because of the album cover, which has got to be one of the greatest in history. And I know that this comment blows monkey, but I'm out of practice because of friggin' Music Babble excising the need for reader comments. But I just had to comment on this one.

Glenn Wiener <> (05.01.2002)

This one is a sure winner. Each song seems to add some special dynamics. Roger Hodgson's voice can grate a little but at least he has a good foil in Ray Davies. I especially like 'Take The Long Way Home' and 'Casual Conversations' but truthfully all ten tracks stand fairly tall to my ears. Oh and there is the Klezmer effect on the title track. I could go on but you want the commentary short here.

Richard C Dickison <> (13.01.2002)

OK, So it is Supertramps best album. Yes, I fully agree. I bought this one recently on CD for old times sake. I have a memory that it was vastly over played, irritating to listen to constantly, and maybe that meant I should revisit now. I mean radio overkill can sometimes hide a good decent album that just got over exposed and turned my stomach at the time.

So my opinion from the cd is... Well dang, he still has that irritating falsetto voice, the music can at time be tinny and thin and go no where. (piano) tink! tink! tink! bing! tink!, followed by high pitched wailing At times the songs have spots that can be down right catchy along with hilarious lyrics. You hit it right on the head with Sparks there. It still has all the things that irritated me before, moments of good solid pop and then blah, yuck, overly serious lectures. Why did no one think that falsetto voices come off sounding syrupy and shallow when mixed with social commentary? Sort of like a sermon being read by Mickey Mouse. Of course I think they got all these bad habits from Yes, another spotty, hit or miss, high pitched, wonder. I know I will get it for that last comment.

Alan Carter <> (09.10.2003)

Why was the album so popular? I'd say there were three reasons: 'The Logical Song', 'Breakfast In America' and 'Goodbye Stranger'. I still hear them regularly on the radio today ('Take The Long Way Home' only seems to turn up occasionally). Actually, I didn't hear them in '79 becaue I wasn't born then, but I understand they had plenty of airplay. Another factor is that there aren't really any bad songs on this album, and on the whole it has a poppier tone than their previous offerings. The awesome cover probably helped too. In fact, pretty much every aspect of the album was made for success; I don't really see what the question is. I'm slightly horrified that you don't like 'Gone Hollywood'; it's one of my favourite Supertramp songs, and in my opinion an excellent choice for an album opener. If there weren't already four great singles elsewhere on the album, I think this could have been moderately successful. I agree with you, to a point, about both 'Child Of vision' and 'Lord Is It Mine'. I enjoy 'LIIM' if I'm in the right mood, but otherwise the vocals set my teeth on edge. 'C'est Le Bon', from their seventh album, has all the good points but is far less annoying. 'Child Of Vision' is very catchy and a decent way to end the album, although I suspect the long piano solo scared off a lot of the pop fans who bought the album (like my parents...). I'm surprised you didn't mention 'Take The Long Way Home', which in my view is one of the most interesting songs on the record. Hook-laden, yet more mature, cohesive and meaningful than your average chart hit. I suppose it's fair not to mention 'Casual Conversations' as it's not a standout, but since someone else here has attacked it, I'll put in a good word on the song's may not be very memorable, but I think the lack of obvious hooks actually works quite well in this particular case. If anything, it's appropriate, given the song's meaning. It does have a slight muzak quality but if ever this was! justified, it's here. The song is chameleon-like and utterly inoffen sive; I enjoy it no matter what my mood. I can't say the same for the album as a whole (as great as it is); it's noticably brighter and chirpier than their previous work, which is probably yet another reason for its success. This particular aspect certainly does not help it to score points with me, but I simply can't fault the abundance of great songs on this record, which is why I'm surprised that you or anyone else could give it less than an 8.

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