Supertramp – Crisis? What Crisis?

One of the most overlooked albums of the 1970s, in my opinion, is Supertramp‘s 1975 release ‘Crisis? What Crisis?‘ which was often relegated to the bargain bins of record stores. I’ve never understood why progressive rock fans weren’t more accepting of this album. It definitely deserves more accolades than it has received.

Listen and decide for yourself:

Easy Does It
Sister Moonshine (above)
Ain’t Nobody But Me (below)
A Soapbox Opera
Another Man’s Woman
Lady
Poor Boy
Just A Normal Day
The Meaning
Two Of Us

13 Responses to “Supertramp – Crisis? What Crisis?”

  1. Bálint says:

    About the phrase “progressive rock”: I’m always surprised when someone calls Supertramp a “progressive rock” band – I can only think of their works as “songs”, and so these songs are quite refreshing experiences among the albums of sometimes-way-too-complicated progressive bands.
    My favorite is the Paris concert.

  2. urbangraffito says:

    I can understand your resistance in calling Supertramp a “progressive rock” band, Balint, especially with albums like ‘Breakfast In America’ (one of my least favorite albums because it was also their least progressive albums). Progressively speaking, ‘Crisis? What Crisis?’, ‘Crime of the Century’, and ‘Even In The Quietest Moments’ were among their most progressive albums musically, before their sound took a pop turn. Creatively, they were on par with bands such as Yes. These bands proved that progressive rock could be both intricate and accessible at the same time.

    I was fortunate enough to see them live in their prime in the 1970s during their ‘Even In The Quietest Moments’ tour. My elder sister’s high school graduating class also managed to collect enough money (a sum of 20 odd thousand dollars) to invite Supertramp to perform at their Graduation dance in 1977 (a 90 min set with one intermission). I doubt that sort of thing occurs today…

  3. Paul Sempschi says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    with albums like ‘Breakfast In America’ (one of my least favorite albums because it was also their least progressive albums).

    I like to think of “Breakfast in America” as the sunny, tropical equivalent to “Tonight’s the Night”. And I always found it to be a very haunting album.

    It’s the other albums like “Crisis” and “Moments” that I have trouble getting into, since they just arent as cohesive.

  4. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Paul Sempschi:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    with albums like ‘Breakfast In America’ (one of my least favorite albums because it was also their least progressive albums).

    I like to think of “Breakfast in America” as the sunny, tropical equivalent to “Tonight’s the Night”. And I always found it to be a very haunting album.

    It’s the other albums like “Crisis” and “Moments” that I have trouble getting into, since they just arent as cohesive.

    While “Breakfast in America” with it’s “sunny, tropical ” upbeat pop hooks did have a lyrical cohesiveness, it was never as musically adventurous as “Crisis”, “Crimes”, or “Moments”. Is it an interesting observation that the shorter Supertramp’s songs became, the more successful they became as a band in the US?

  5. Plooker says:

    Urban, are you trying to say the us Americans can’t…mmm beer.

  6. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Plooker:

    Urban, are you trying to say the us Americans can’t…mmm beer.

    I wouldn’t attempt to generalize about what American audiences like or dislike, Plooker. I do find it an interesting observation, though, that throughout much of Supertramp’s career they consistently failed to break into the US market in any sizable way while achieving a lot more acceptance and success in Europe and Canada until the release of “Breakfast in America”.

  7. Paul Sempschi says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    into the US market in any sizable way while achieving a lot more acceptance and success in Europe and Canada until the release of “Breakfast in America”.

    Because, like “Dark Side of the Moon” for Pink Floyd, “Breakfast in America” simply kicks ass.

    “Gone Hollywood”, “The Logical Song”, “Good-bye Stranger” and “Breakfast in America” in a row, who could possibly find fault in that???

  8. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Paul Sempschi:

    Because, like “Dark Side of the Moon” for Pink Floyd, “Breakfast in America” simply kicks ass.

    “Gone Hollywood”, “The Logical Song”, “Good-bye Stranger” and “Breakfast in America” in a row, who could possibly find fault in that???

    I find no fault in “Breakfast in America”, Paul. As you suggest, that particular album for Supertramp was like “Dark Side of the Moon” for Pink Floyd. As this thread suggests, I find it odd how one particular album by this group is overlooked again and again by fans and critics. It would almost be the equivalent of one of Zappa’s albums constantly turning up in a record store’s bargain bin. Outrageous at best.

  9. Paul Sempschi says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    I find no fault in “Breakfast in America”, Paul. As you suggest, that particular album for Supertramp was like “Dark Side of the Moon” for Pink Floyd. As this thread suggests, I find it odd how one particular album by this group is overlooked again and again by fans and critics. It would almost be the equivalent of one of Zappa’s albums constantly turning up in a record store’s bargain bin. Outrageous at best.

    Like “Cheep Thrills”?
    Though interestingly enough, the album “Apostrophe’” has been showing up a lot in used cd stores. Normally, Frank’s stuff disappears pretty quickly from the used cd stores. But it’s been lingering in at least four stores here for the past few years.

    But like I had been saying, the reason I think “Breakfast” sold so well was a mixture of great songs and consistent, accessable material. Honestly, I find their other stuff to be a hodge podge and a bit manic. Which is a point in its favour, IMHO, but the AM/FM crowd doesnt.

    For example, “Crime of the Century” has such a wide variety of styles (in blad pop music context) that it could be forged as a 20 year retrospective. This is also what probably stalled Al Kooper from really breaking through commercially.

    But what I always found shocking and disgusting was the commercial failure of “Safe as Milk”. Every song on that album sounds like a hit single. Marketing? Failure to tour properly? Martian conspiracy?

  10. urbangraffito says:

    Very interesting comparison between the commercial failure of “Crisis” with that of Beefheart’s “Safe As Milk”, Paul. I agree, there are so many would-be hits on that album (hits to us fans at very least), but when Beefheart and his Magic Band failed to materialize as the next Rolling Stones with their psychedelic avant-garde sound, their label did as most labels do when they don’t believe in either the band or the album – they put forth as little support (i.e. funding, advertising, etc.) as possible.

    At least “Safe As Milk” was never relegated to the bargain bin (I’ve never found a copy there), and neither was any Zappa record, tape or CD (in my memory). Yes, Zappa titles do pop up periodically in used record stores, and disappear just as quickly, too (I often find it a sad sight whenever a Zappa fan sells his collection, or parts thereof – there is really nothing more personal than someone’s music collection).

    Perhaps my affinity toward Supertramp’s early albums are shaped by their success in Canada, and their widespread airplay on Canadian AM/FM radio?

  11. Paul Sempschi says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    Perhaps my affinity toward Supertramp’s early albums are shaped by their success in Canada, and their widespread airplay on Canadian AM/FM radio?

    I guess it would depend on which Supertramp we’re talking about… though as a fellow-Canuck, I probably am taking it for granted that they were pretty popular here. It was always my impression that “Breakfast” and “Crime of the Century” were there two biggest albums, but perhaps only Breakfast was big in the US, I’m not sure.

    But I would never underestimate the power of airplay to make the listener like music, for years I absolutely hated electronic music until late Night radio (CBC) turned me on to it. Not necause of the dance beats but because I started associating it with insomnia. I also have a similar theory about Bukowski and classical music…

  12. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Paul Sempschi:

    But I would never underestimate the power of airplay to make the listener like music, for years I absolutely hated electronic music until late Night radio (CBC) turned me on to it. Not necause of the dance beats but because I started associating it with insomnia. I also have a similar theory about Bukowski and classical music…

    Hey, another Late Night CBC Radio listener…

    Growing up in Canada in the 70s, when distribution of music wasn’t as wide it is today (you can’t exactly describe chain record stores as centers of musical variety), most of the new music I heard came from radio (neither places of musical variety), or the mixtapes made for me by friends.

    Re: electronic music. I think it was the early Mothers, particularly the work of Don Preston on ‘Uncle Meat’ that primed my ears for the ambient and electronic styles to come after them (this assumption was justified when my son told me it was ‘Uncle Meat’ than turned him on to electronic music).

    Back to Supertramp, when I listen to “Crisis”, “Crimes”, or “Moments” I hear a band at the top of it’s form still, still creative, still reaching toward their creative peak. Yet, with and after “Breakfast” I don’t get that sense at all.

  13. Robert says:

    Supertramp is my favourite band. I love how they evolved from thier first album ‘Supertramp’ which was quite psychedelic, into progressive rock and eventually pop.
    I own most of the compilations and have listened to most of the other songs too. Paris is my favourite, as the music seems even better than the studio with such an amazing atmosphere. (Best band plus best city)

    How many people on this website agree that Supertramp should have stopped after ‘…Famous Last Words…’ or maybe even straight after Paris?

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