Friday, October 12, 2007

Crime of the Century?......Hardly

Rob Morris has rightfully reminded me that I haven't changed the album of the week for far too long. So here goes. Crime of the Century, Supertramp - if you know it you'll either love it or loathe it. Obviously I'm in the former camp. Released in 1974 it always brings back memories of a trip to stay with friends in Germany, probably in the spring of '75. We took a long car trip down the Rhine and for much of the time we played this album - all of us singing, "right, right you're bloody well right" at the tops of voices – it made sense at the time.

It opens with 'School', which defines the sound of the whole album. The opening harmonica refrain is replaced by building vocals and guitar which eventually give way to the overlaid keyboards which climax with wah-wah guitar that pans from speaker to speaker. For me it's a tour de force of the ELO variety of the Prog Rock - no bad thing. Next is the sing along, 'Bloody well right', followed by 'Hide in Your Shell' and the 'Asylum' - for me both at not standouts, but fit the overall album perfectly.

Side 2 of the LP opened with 'Dreamer' a song most people are probably familiar with; it's above all else a great pop record. 'Rudy' is next and it's back to staple Supertramp country, as is 'If everyone was listening.' They don't quite save the best for last but the album’s title track is another 'signature' song of the band. Running at just over forty three minutes Crime of the Century demonstrates perfectly what was right about LPs - they didn't go on too long. As often as not the CD has allowed performers to all to frequently let their output expand in order to just fill the available time - length is not always a positively defining factor. Apparently the eight tracks from this album were culled from around forty demos (some other bands could take the hint).

Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson were the bands principal writers and shared the lead vocals throughout. Hodgson left the band he co-founded in 1983 and part of the deal was that they would not play his songs on stage. Four years later they still were and it caused one of the other founder members to quit in apparently acrimonious circumstances. Recently Hodgson has donated his song 'Give a little bit' to the Tsunami relief funds and he performed solo at the Princess Diana memorial concert in 2007. The band even has it's own tribute band (well they would wouldn't they?), they're called the Logicaltramps.


r morris said...

Great choice, Richard! I second it. This album was also brilliantly mixed and sounds incredible.
There is no weak track on either side.
This album brings back many fond memories for me, as well. As does their biggest seller, Breakfast in America.

Fitaloon said...

Definitely a great choice, Strangely I was living in Germany when I first heard it. Lots of good memories, particularly of revising for O'levels to this album. Don't know why just seemed to help the knowledge stick in, maybe something to do with "School"

Shades said...

Roger Hodgson is touring the UK at the moment- I saw him in Manchester, he was very good and much better than at the Princess Concert (he was ill then apparently).

He performed School, Dreamer and Hide in your Shell from COTC. HIYS is my favourite song of the album, for sentimental reasons.

Anonymous said...

Saw Roger last night at Birmingham Symphony Hall and it was a total triumph. If anything, he was in better voice than when I first saw him on the "Crime" tour (gulp) over 30 years ago.

Richard Havers said...

Good to hear he was in better voice than at the Wembley gig. I didn't know he was poorly that day but it certainly showed. It passed me by that he is even touring here. Just goes to show how easy it is to miss things in our cluttered media world.

Birthday Girl said...

Oh the memories that come flooding back! This was one of the most played albums in the 6th form common room at my school, along with the Average White Band and (gulp) Emerson, Lake and Palmer. I bet you'll never elevate one of their LPs to your hall of fame, Richard.

Richard Havers said...

Ah indeed....I've already had the AWB White of my all time drop dead classics.

Actually I do like ELP. I first saw Keith Emerson when he was with the Nice at Fairfield Halls in Croydon. It was when they were playing America that Keith would hold the keys down with knives that he kept in his long suede boots. He then set fire to the Stars and Stripes which caused not a little consternation amongst the suited ushers (average age 63 and a half)

As for ELP I love Tarkus, Lucky Man is a great track as is C'est La vie, Fanfare for the common man, Pictures at an exhibition....I'm a sucker for classically influenced rock.

It's got me thinking I might do a Yes album!

Richard Evans said...

As Robert Plant once said to me, "Bloody hell, it's Emerson Snake and Charmer!"

r morris said...

Emerson Lake and Palmer were a little full of themselves and produced over-the-top music, but some of it was pretty d--n good stuff! I enjoy their lush sound. The fact that three guys could put out that much sound never ceases to amaze me.

Yes has not worn well over time. Maybe it's because, like ELP, they sound pretentious. However, some of the stuff is classic- such as Roundabout.