Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Supertramp Crisis? What Crisis? (1975)


The previous album made the band a little bigger; this album, however, made them rather small again. It is indeed a little weaker, sounding like all these notorious ‘weak’ follow-ups to classic albums; adding nothing to the by now firmly established Supertramp style, it still has its share of nice songs, but much too often the guys are just coasting and toasting, stuck in their jazzy grooves and not really understanding where to head next.

The album’s title comes out as thoroughly deceptive, then – the band obviously has a crisis, no matter how they attempt to conceal it. That said, the amazing ‘mediocre consistency’ (or ‘consistent mediocrity’) of Supertramp shows through even here, and I have no problem at all listening to the poor piece o’ plastic (that was a metaphor, of course – I can’t find a poetic way to describe a bunch of MP3 files yet). I do have problems trying to memorize it, though.

Of course, if only the album could live up to its opener – the delicious McCartnyesque acoustic popper ‘Easy Does It’, bouncy and cozy and catchy beyond words, I would be significantly happier and better disposed. But that’s actually the catchiest moment on the album, although both Hodgson and Rick Davies have some more moments of relative triumph as well.

The former contributes the near-hysterical, jerky acoustic rocker ‘Sister Moonshine’ that’s a gas to try to sing along to (you’ll end up looking like a paranoid idiot in most cases) and the moving ballad ‘Two Of Us’ that goes much deeper than the Beatles song of the same name, even if it certainly loses in the instant memorability department. Hodgson really shines on the song – his voice may be whiny, but at least he modulates it on the spur of the moment and never ends up sounding like a robot (like somebody else I know).

On the other hand, Rick Davies goes for a rougher sound on the bombastic ‘Ain’t Nobody But Me’, partially based on the same moderate, relaxated jazzy pattern as ‘Forever’ off Indelibly Stamped, but incorporating more different sections.

The way the song goes from the mean-sounding verses to the optimistic, ‘thoughtful’ refrain makes it really stand out. And finally, I’m a sucker for ‘Just A Normal Day’; while the number hardly has any distinct traces of melody, the very idea of a ‘philosophic dialogue’ between Davies and Hodgson, with Davies representing the ‘seeker’ side of the individual and Hodgson representing the ‘melancholic scepticist’ side, is carried out brilliantly. Could you imagine a ‘philosophic dialogue’ between, say, John Lennon and Paul McCartney? The closest thing I can recall is ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’… (!!!!).

Everything else strikes me as being sordidly underwritten, although it’s really hard to tell – with a band like this, the overall impression can often depend on the most tiniest of hooks hidden deep in the background. Hodgson’s piano melodies on ‘Soapbox Opera’ and ‘Lady’ are thin and don’t do anything that stuff like ‘Hide In Your Shell’ or ‘Dreamer’ hasn’t respectively done better on the previous album. And Davies writes convoluted, but pretty dull and pointless sagas like ‘Another Man’s Woman’.

I won’t stoop to condemning the arguable silliness of the band chanting ‘if you know what the meaning is, if you know what the meaning is’ for what seems like ages on ‘The Meaning’, because I don’t see the potential offensiveness here, but I gotta say, if this was considered ‘cool’ by the guys at the time, they must have really been at a loss.

Strange enough, ‘losses’ like these always resulted in the band’s falling out of the picture for a while – their following album wouldn’t come out until nearly three years later. Oh well, in any case these ‘fallings out’ are a more honest thing than just putting out more and more crap and gradually transforming oneself into a muzak writing machine. Thumbs up for creativity.

April 3, 2013 - Posted by | Supertramp Crisis? What Crisis? |

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