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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Supertramp

Crisis? What Crisis?

Review by Gary Hill

This album might not have the huge hits that some of the other Supertramp albums do. It has some awesome music, though. While not everything here is purely progressive rock, quite a bit of it is. There are hints of prog on just about everything. In some ways, I think this album actually benefits from the fact that the songs haven’t been all over the radio for years. This thing really holds up well. I highly recommend it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Easy Does It

A decent length effects section opens this. Then we get a playful, almost psychedelically tinged song. It has both stripped back sections and more powered up ones. It’s a concise number that’s catchy.

Sister Moonshine
This has a bit more energy and a more full arrangement. It’s another that’s fun, though. It has a bouncy texture to it, but also some real meat. It’s classic Supertramp in tone, really.
Ain't Nobody but Me
More purely progressive rock in nature, this is also much harder rocking than anything else we’ve heard here. I love the main riff driven section, but the mellower motif mid-track is classy, too. The horn section adds a lot to this piece, as well. Sort of a 1950s based section with some theatrical elements leads into a short, pure prog romp that segues into the next tune.
A Soapbox Opera
Coming right out of the previous one, this is an amazing piece. A mellow movement, with some theatrical dialog in the background opens this. It grows up gradually with piano lending the melody early. That piano serves as the backdrop for the first vocal section. Symphonic elements are added to that as it grows. Eventually it bursts out to a more rocking motif for a time. It drops way down after that, though, to a mellow, symphonically laced section. Then the piano and vocal section returns and we are taken back through similar sections as before. Somehow the closing section of this reminds me of ELO, just a bit.
Another Man's Woman
An extended piece, it starts with piano and grows out from there into another of the most proggy and strongest cuts here. The early sections again make me think of ELO a bit. Eventually it shifts to more rocking territory. They take it through various shifts and changes in the process of taking this forward. There are some awesome moments here. A piano driven section with some funky guitar in the background gets quite bluesy. The powered up jam later is among the best musical moments of the whole disc. I really love this song a lot. That said, I love pretty much everything here, too.
Lady
This is catchy, but it’s also very proggy. It’s got a real classic Supertramp sound to it. It’s bouncy and full of shifts and changes. I love the vocal performance on this one, but it doesn’t take away from the music either. There’s no mistaking this for anyone but Supertramp. That’s for sure.
Poor Boy
There are definitely some jazz-like moments here. The first of those is on the introductory section. It has a bit of a tongue-in-cheek feeling to it. The cut has a bouncy kind of jazzy pop music vibe overall. The instrumental section mid-track, though, is pure jazz again. The closing section sees a return to the start of the piece.
Just A Normal Day
This is a contender for my favorite song here. I think it has some theremin in the mix. That’s a plus for me whether it sounds like it or is theremin. Additionally, though, the vocal arrangement is great and the whole song just seems to ooze emotion and class. This isn’t as rocking or as diverse as some of the stuff here. It is, however exceptionally powerful.
The Meaning
Another that’s more purely prog rock in nature, this comes in fairly mellow  and builds out gradually from there. It’s a killer rocker with a number of shifts and turns. In a lot of ways it’s a real powerhouse.
Two of Us
This is still proggy, but not as dynamic or involved as some of the other stuff. It’s more or less a powered up ballad and kind of a nice way to bring it all back down to Earth.
 
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