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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Supertramp - Breakfast In America [Deluxe Edition]

As punk and the new wave scene was coming in and out to destroy in what was called, dinosaur music of the ‘70s with heavy metal and progressive music being under attack thanks to the bastardization of the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Ramones. Prog was still going strong and thanks to one band who gave punk the middle finger that gave the record a huge top charting success. Supertramp was riding high after having a breakthrough with Crime of The Century, Crisis? What Crisis?, and their masterpiece Even in the Quietest Moments. But by the time they released Breakfast In America in 1979, they hit the jackpot. 31 years later, it still sounds fresh when it was back in the late ‘70s and into 1980. You have some amazing songs written by Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies had written as if the Beatles had kid brothers.

Breakfast In America is the unbelievable masterpiece that Supertramp made as where progressive pop music suddenly begin come back from the dead. While the band had top singles from the album thanks to songs like: The Logical Song, Goodbye Stranger, the title track, and Take The Long Way Home, they were a platinum monster and were now lining stadium shows promoting the album in a big way since 1974. Now in a 2-CD Deluxe Edition format including liner notes done by MOJO’s editor-in-chief’s Phil Alexander and interviews with Bob Siebenberg, Roger Hodgson, John Helliwell, Supertramp’s manager Dave Margeson, Russell Pope who work as a concert sound engineer on the album, and Dougie Thompson describing the times working on the album and the strained relationship that the two songwriters had with each other before Roger departed in 1983 after the release of Famous Last Words.

The booklet features photos of the Breakfast tour including Kate Murtagh, who was almost 60 at the time introducing the band to the audience. And has memorabilia, magazines, black & white photos of the sessions and the concert, and promos of the album. It just goes to show why the album almost made them geek superstars.

Breakfast In America isn’t just your typical progressive pop album. You have the views of destruction of the drug scene in L.A. on Gone Hollywood, the loss of childhood innocence with The Logical Song while Goodbye Stranger brings the soul sound of Motown beauty. The homage to Randy Newman’s Sail Away-era on Casual Conversations, the AOR orientation on Just Another Nervous Wreck, the piano ballad rocker that could have been a hit single with Lord Is It Mine and the 7-minute eerie finale of Child of Vision and the harmonica haunting ballad on Take The Long Way Home can see the evidence on where the Hodgson and Davies relationship as a band was sliding down, but can work together as a team.

The second disc which is released on the Deluxe Edition is called 1979 Live Breakfast World Tour that features 12 tracks in London, Miami, and Paris. The unreleased Paris tracks never made it on the final version of their double live album at the time the band was promoting Breakfast In America, but having six tracks from the album, two from Even in the Quietest Moments, and two tracks from Crisis? What Crisis? and Crime of the Century. On the live version of The Logical Song in Wembley, you can hear audiences clapping along to the number and getting a real groove to the single as the band give the fans a real treat while the 6-minute gorgeous dazzling version of Goodbye Stranger gives you a bone-chilling feel on what they have up their sleeve. The live versions will send you back time traveling as if it’s 1979 all over again.

Since I’ve mentioned the two tracks, the second disc has the band’s most amazing three centerpieces that will make you want to go out and buy the Deluxe Edition. John Helliwell’s humorous introduction on having an English breakfast before going into the elegant waltz on the title track while they go funky on our asses with the 7-minute rocker Another Man’s Woman. Then John gives us a short 35 second ragtime clarinet introduction before introducing the audience to the band’s most acoustical love song as Roger and John create magic in the atmosphere in Paris that night with him singing the beautiful ballad Even In The Quietest Moments.

Breakfast In America was the most magnetic albums to come out of the 20th century and the last hurrah for the group who brought prog in the billboard’s pop album charts to create a perfect melody and a hit single for them. But when it came to Famous Last Words, in which they should have called it, The Last Straw instead, the band suddenly begin to crumble as partners between Hodgson and Davies who were at each others throat during the making of the last words sessions. It was then decided for Roger to leave the band to start a family and a solo career. But before he did that, he made a gentlemen’s agreement to Rick for him to use the name Supertramp for his songs and not Roger’s as he would take them with him. So it’s been a Civil War between the two and even the fans including myself consider the Roger Hodgson-era of Supertramp, it’s been a long and winding road for them. If they could bury the hatchet and do one more gig for a reunion and not a cover band for the 70-10 tour.

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