Supertramp - Crime Of The Century (1971)

“Crime of the century” saw Supertramp become a major league band overnight.

I first heard the album when it was played by Supertramp live on tour. The performance consisted of the entire album presented in track order. I suspect most of the audience joined me the following day in buying the album. Incidentally, Supertramp were supported by a youthful, and at the time superb (I kid you not!) Chris De Burgh, who was also signed to A&M. His complete set consisted only of him and his acoustic guitar, but the prog inclined audience were captivated, and indeed highly appreciative. The album starts innocuously enough with “School”, something of a grower of a track which only really gets going when Hodgson assaults his piano. “Bloody well right” is a pretty poor Rick Davies led track, it’s a bit funky, but band and uninspired. I must admit at this point in the concert I was starting to despair.

“Hide in your shell” however dispels all concerns, a masterpiece of melodic prog featuring the pained voice of Hodgson. It’s structured along the lines of the Moody Blues “Isn’t life strange”, but a bit more upbeat. There’s some wonderful sax, and symphonic keyboards, plus a supreme melody. This really is Supertramp at their peak.

The album includes the single “Dreamer” which at the time was radically different to anything which had previously featured in the charts, yet it has an irresistible hook. It has to be one of the most progressive singles ever.

The title track which closes the album opens with a brief vocal section the punchline leading to the wonderful instrumental which plays the album out. The music build majestically from unaccompanied piano through a soothing wash of saxophone (think “Year of the cat” by Al Stewart), before the distant harmonica which opened side one brings things full circle.

This was probably Supertramp’s most progressive effort, and undoubtedly their finest hour. Many of the songs have complex structures while retaining strong melodies. It is perhaps the strength of those melodies which mislead those who listen on a superficial level, and perceive this as a simple, pop based collection.

“Crime of the century” is a wonderful album best heard as a complete piece. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether it’s actually a concept album or not. - Review by Easy Livin (Bob McBeath)

Track Listings

Side 1
1. School (5:35)
2. Bloody well Right (4:26)
3. Hide in your Shell (6:52)
4. Asylum (6:30)
Side 2
5. Dreamer (3:19)
6. Rudy (7:07)
7. If everyone was Listening (4:05)
8. Crime of the Century (5:20)

Total Time: 43:14

- Bob C Benberg / drums, percussion
- Roger Hodgson / vocal, guitar, pianos
- John Anthony Helliwell / saxophones, clarinets, vocals
- Dougie Thomson / bass
- Richard Davies / vocals, keyboards, harmonica
Releases information

LP A&M Records (UK) AMLS68258 (1974)
CD A&M Records (USA) 493346 (2002)


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