Supertramp – Supertramp (1970)

Supertramp_13.5 out of 5 Stars!

On the debut album from Supertramp, although much of the material is seemingly a million miles away from the style of music the group would produce during its 1974-1979 “glory period,” the band showed great promise nevertheless.

Additionally, since the line-up at the time of this release included only two members—Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies—who would continue on with Supertramp into its “glory period,” that explains much of the difference in style from subsequent albums.

One initial caveat…for those unfamiliar with this period in the band’s history, don’t be fooled by the cover art, which always brought the group Genesis to mind. But the music on offer here, although more Progressive than later Supertramp releases, has only marginal similarities to Genesis, mostly some of the folksier, pastoral atmospheres the groups occasionally shared in the beginning of their respective careers. Therefore, despite the cover art, don’t expect anything along the lines of “Supper’s Ready” or “Cinema Show.”

Instead, other than the song “Maybe I’m a Beggar,” where original guitarist Richard Palmer-James sings a portion of the lead (and has a voice not associated with the band’s popular sound), the music, for the most part, is still undeniably Supertramp. Tunes such as “It’s a Long Road,” “Words Unspoken,” “Shadow Song,” “Aubade and I Am Not Like Other Birds of Prey,” and “Surely” are probably the closest in style to the band’s heyday period, whereas “Nothing to Show” and sections of the lengthy “Try Again,” especially with the heavier guitar leads and Hammond organ, are completely different than what fans are used to hearing from the most popular version of the group.

So basically, what we have here is a promising band still struggling to find its trademarked sound/style, but producing some enjoyable music in the process.

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Roger Hodgson – In the Eye of the Storm (1984)

RogerHodgson_EyeStorm4 out of 5 Stars!

Like many fans of Supertramp, learning of Roger Hodgson’s departure from the band to begin a solo career in 1983 came as a shock. I sensed the group would never be quite the same without the stylistic “give and take” between Hodgson and Rick Davies, each with their own unique musical approach, songwriting skills, and ears for melody, and I was right…the band just wasn’t the same afterward. And to be perfectly truthful, I had always preferred Roger Hodgson’s quirkier and more Prog-oriented vocal style over Rick Davies’s grittier and less-precise delivery, therefore subsequent Supertramp albums just didn’t have the same “magical balance.”

Anyway, when Hodgson released his 1984 solo debut In the Eye of the Storm that included the instant Progressive-Pop hit “Had a Dream (Sleeping With the Enemy),” I immediately snatched it up, and frankly, with other equally impressive songs such as “In Jeopardy,” “Only Because of You,” “Hooked on a Problem,” “I’m Not Afraid,” and “Give Me Love, Give Me Life” also on tap, the seven-track collection sounded more like a Supertramp album than the band’s own Brother Where You Bound platter that dropped a year later.

With Hodgson performing all the instruments himself—a true “solo” effort—and also producing the entire shebang, it clearly showed just how much he had previously contributed to the classic Supertramp sound, making me appreciate his talents even more.

Unfortunately, after this album, Hodgson released only one more album before disappearing for more than a decade and finally issuing his last studio platter in 2000, just a few years before his former band also fell apart (at least when it came to creating new studio material).

Regardless, fans of Supertramp’s music from the “glory period” (Crime of the Century through Breakfast in America) who don’t already own this album should definitely consider adding it to their collections.

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