Friday, November 14, 2014

Supertramp, The #56 Artist of the Seventies*

Originally The #56 Artist of the Seventies* was called Daddy.  They formed in 1969 before changing their name to Supertramp the following year.  Rick Davies, bassist Roger Hodgson, guitarist Richard Palmer, and Keith Baker on percussion joined after answering an advertisement in the weekly music newspaper, Melody Maker.

Davies and Hodgson wrote most of the group's music, with Palmer contributing the lyrics.  Baker was soon replaced by Robert Millar, and the group performed at the P.N. Club in Munich, Germany.  Supertramp was one of the first groups to be signed to the new U.K. division of A&M Records.  They released their self-titled album in 1970 in the U.K. and Canada (and later in the U.S. in 1977).  The album was thoroughly praised by the critics, but critics don't buy a lot of albums and thus don't carry a lot of weight.

Dave Winthrop (flute and saxophone) joined the group and Supertramp received considerable exposure at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.  Palmer and Millar both left the group prior to the album Indeliby Stamped in 1971.  Hodgson switched to guitar, and the group hired bassist Frank Farrell and Kevin Currie on percussion.  With the departure of Palmer, Hodgson and Davies began writing the group's lyrics as well.

But the album sold less than the debut, and all of the original members of Supertramp quit except Hodgson and Davies.  Bad move for the others, but good news for the group, for afterwards, Supertramp found the members that made it click.  Bassist Dougie Thomson came aboard, and the group also hired Bob Siebenberg on drums and percussion and John Helliwell on saxophone and other woodwinds.  During this time, Hodgson began playing keyboards, especially the Wurlitzer electric piano, which he would become famous for.

In 1975, Supertramp came up with the album Crime of the Century, a #4 album in the U.K.  "Dreamer" was a minor hit in their native Britain, but DJ's flipped the 45 over in the United States and discovered the great song "Bloody Well Right", which at #35 is one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs of the Rock Era*. (Please click on the "Play" icon in the top left-hand portion of the video...)

The album also contains one of The Top Tracks of the Rock Era*, an amazing song called "School".

The single led the album to #4 on the chart and Gold status.  Supertramp's next album, Crisis?  What Crisis? did not get the airplay, the sales, or the hits that its predecessor did.  So the group went back to the drawing board.

In 1977, Supertramp came back with the album Even in the Quietest Moments.  The single "Give A Little Bit" roared up to #2 in the Netherlands, #8 in Canada, and reached #15 in the United States.

The album went Gold, and Supertramp had developed a loyal and significant cult following.  But nothing they had recorded prepared either themselves or the public for what came next.

In 1979, the group released the album of their career.  Breakfast In America prophetically announced their arrival in the U.S.  As hit after hit and supreme album track after album track emerged, it was clear to anyone that this was an amazing release.  "The Logical Song" topped the Canadian chart, went to an underrated #6 in the United States and #7 in the U.K.

Breakfast in America spawned four hit songs, more than their first five albums combined.  The title song reached #9 in the U.K. and should have been about that high everywhere.

The album went to #1 for six weeks in the U.S., and topped Album charts all over the world:  Germany, Canada, Australia, France, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland.  Supertramp released the single "Goodbye Stranger" next, a #5 song in Canada and #15 in the United States.

Breakfast in America went on to sell over four million copies in the U.S. alone, and has now topped 20 million worldwide.  Inside The Rock Era placed it as The #23 Album of the Rock Era*.

The great song "Take The Long Way Home" went to #4 in Canada and #10 in the U.S.

But that's just part of the story, as you would fully expect from one of the top albums of all-time.  This is the incredible track "Gone Hollywood"

One of the great tracks on the album is this ballad--"Lord Is It Mine".

Supertramp headed out on the road to promote the album, a 10-month, 120-date tour that broke all previous concert attendance records in Europe and Canada.  Breakfast in America also contained this phenomenal track--"Child of Vision".

Another solid track is "Just Another Nervous Wreck".

We close the tribute to The #56 Artist of the Seventies* with "Casual Conversations".

Supertramp continued recorded into the early 80's, but Hodgson moved to the secluded mountains of northern California and recorded a solo album, which was never released.  Hodgson was still in the group, but he was far away from the other members, not only in geographic location but in his mind.  After the group's album ...Famous Last Words, Hodgson announced he was leaving the band.

To this day, Hodgson only allows videos of himself singing Supertramp songs without the group--he does not allow any YouTube videos of Supertramp performing his songs.  Supertramp has released four further albums, selling millions of records. 

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