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Supertramp - 1979 Breakfast In America



ARTIST: Supertramp
ALBUM: Breakfast In America
LABEL: A&M
SERIAL: SP-3708
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 1984, A&M, CD-3708 * 2002, A&M, 493 349-2, plus many more reissues

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Roger Hodgson - vocals, guitar, keyboard * Rick Davies - vocals, keyboards * Dougie Thomson - bass * Bob Siebenberg - drums * John Helliwell - sax, woodwinds, backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Gone Hollywood * 02 The Logical Song * 03 Goodbye Stranger * 04 Breakfast In America * 05 Oh Darling * 06 Take The Long Way Home * 07 Lord Is It Mine * 08 Just Another Nervous Wreck * 09 Casual Conversation * 10 Child Of Vision

WEBLINKS: www.supertramp.com


Background
After a decade of increasingly excellent progressive tinged albums, Supertramp finally realised their commercial peak with undoubtedly their most well known recording. It heralded a change in direction, with the band abandoning the lengthier tracks which were scattered around their classic output from 'Crime Of The Century' onwards. Where the band always had a penchant for shorter commercial tracks like 'Dreamer', 'Give A Little Bit', 'Bloody Well Right' etc, there was more of a pronounced AOR direction here, something the U.S. audience took to heart as the album shifted millions. Many of the tracks here are radio staples to this day and most of us need no clues as to what they are.


The Songs
This was one of the first rock albums I ever heard and all these years later it remains a firm favourite of mine. At a young age digesting some of the lyrical themes on offer was perhaps impossible, so it would be fair to say I had no idea what Rick Davies was singing about on 'Gone Hollywood'. The music and lyrics have a fantastic sense of hopelessness until the conclusion and this is a tremendous AOR track, much on the heavier side for Supertramp. The following trio of 'The Logical Song', 'Goodbye Stranger' and the title track need no explanation, all are classic rock radio staples to this day along with 'Take The Long Way Home' and represent the band at their commercial best. All four were sizable hits with unforgettable hooks and this was as polished as anything by the likes of Styx and Foreigner etc, if less heavy. 'Oh Darling' and 'Lord Is It Mine' are fairly low-key, very pop oriented and perhaps the most marginal tracks on offer. The more upbeat 'Just Another Nervous Wreck' is one of the bands best tracks, with Davies inspired vocals belying the tracks theme of hitting rock bottom. The band sounded better on the harder rock styled tracks such as this, with the guitars more prominent and as melodic as any AOR act. By comparison the melancholy 'Casual Conversations' sounds like a Billy Joel track, with the simple piano and sax arrangements reinforcing that comparison even more. The standout for me is the seven minute 'Child Of Vision', the closest Supertramp come to their progressive past, with layers of keyboards and synths dominating proceedings, as Hodgson and Davies trade off vocals in the chorus, making this a classic on an already classic album.


In Summary
This has gone on to shift almost 20 million copies allegedly, but it wouldn't surprise me if that was accurate. This is one of the albums that ended up defining the late 70's and turned the band into genuine stars, even if nobody knew what anyone in the band looked like. Listening to this more than 30 years later it's obvious how well it has aged and the band in all honesty had nowhere to go following this. The previously reviewed 'Famous Last Words' and 1985's 'Brother Where You Bound' had some reasonable moments, but when Hodgson left it was a lost cause. As far as rock staples go however, 'Breakfast In America' is a masterpiece, the likes of which will never be seen again.


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Tags: Supertramp 
 
Comments
#1 | gdazegod on July 30 2011 13:09:03
Simply a timeless album. My teenage years were populated by songs from this LP/CD, and it's one I listen to often. Great reading Alun.
#2 | Eric on July 30 2011 13:10:22
A masterwork.
#3 | DrakeSinister on July 30 2011 17:57:24
Funnily enough, the one Supertramp album I can't stand. Great review though!
#4 | MUSCLE on August 01 2011 12:08:52
the glory daze of 1980-81! if i recall rightly the grease soundtrack had given way to this album, atlantic crossing and running around the lounge in slow motion to the chariots of fire theme tune! great taste for a pair of five year olds. Grin
#5 | roadrunner158 on August 02 2011 17:27:24
Some great and timeless songs, with my favourite being 'Lord is it mine'.
#6 | Tom Redmond on April 22 2013 13:45:24
Brilliant album and great review. I am listening to it at the moment.
 
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