Crime of the Century



by Adam Thomas STAFF
July 22nd, 2008 | 12 replies | 5,627 views

Release Date: 1974 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Crime of the Century is one of the better albums to be fished out of the sea that is 70's progressive music and is Supertramp's best work.

Being a teenager can be a hard and sometimes confusing time. A few years before my teen years began, my parents were involved in a somewhat lengthly and bitter divorce. On the day that my father moved out he gave me one of the greatest gifts I have received even to this day, his record collection. At the time I had no idea what a monumental gift this was, but something changed when I became a teenager. One day when I was about fourteen or so I stumbled across my Dad's record player in a box in the garage. I dusted it off, plugged it in, and then began my search through my dad's old records. The first things that grabbed my attention were albums that I had known all my life by the likes of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Who, but as I went through the boxes I began to see albums for bands I knew very little about or not at all. At the bottom of one of the boxes was Supertramp's Crime of the Century. I remember just staring at it for a few minutes. The depiction of a man trapped behind prison bars instantly struck a chord. After a few more minutes of taking it all in, I put the album on. The album remained on that turntable for a good two weeks before I put anything else on. Supertramp had managed to capture the confusion, rebellion, and angst of being a teenager better than any of the other albums that I began to obsess over. It wasn't like Roger Waters' constant blaming of everyone but himself for his unhappiness like in Pink Floyd's The Wall nor was it the unabashed rage and animalistic spirit championed in Alice Cooper songs like Eighteen or Schools Out, Crime of the Century had a universal element to it that made it easy to relate to and more personal than the other albums of the like.

“Do as they tell you to/ Don't want the devil to/ Come and pull out your eyes”

Lyrically, all of the songs on Crime of the Century are built off of the anger and alienation that come from being a confused, angsty young man. The opening track, School, is a diatribe on exactly that. The next track, Bloody Well Right, continues this theme where Roger Hodgson blast “So you think your schooling's phoney, I guess it's hard not to agree” as he sets the opening tone of the song. Together the two tracks come off with an anti-conformity vibe that is very reminiscent of Pink Floyd's The Wall. The track, Rudy, is an attempt to add a personal side to that definitive James Dean style bad-boy with its character study of the song's namesake. Not everything is as bleak and anger driven as these songs though. The album's main single, Dreamer, comes across as stressing that classical ethos where even though it may be impossible for your dreams to ever come true, its the fact that you try and never give up and keep that optimistic spirit that really matters.

Musically, on Crime of the Century Supertramp play 70's radio-pop with strong progressive tendencies. Neither side of Supertramp is superior over the other and they seem to play off of each other. Whenever the band lay heavy on their prog-chops they are quick to revert to their more sensible pop side. This keeps the music interesting and fresh since there are many shifts in the music stylistically and in time signatures. The opener and closer of the album, School and Crime of the Century respectively, are the most progressive tracks. School begins with a lonesome harmonica that reinforces the image of being trapped behind bars before spacey chords and driving bass power the verse. Then the band really begins to show their chops with an amazing piano solo. Before Supertramp can go balls to the wall prog the 2nd track begins with its heavy blues influence shining through. Crime of the Century is rather similar to Dark Side of the Moon era Pink Floyd where at first listen the track seems rather simplistic in its make up, but slowly begins to unveil itself after repeated listens. It begins as just a simple piano ballad but soon shows its teeth with a ripping guitar solo as it builds to its crescendo with strings and saxophone overlapping piano and pounding drums.

As strong as this album is, it does have one downside: you begin to outgrow it. When I was 14 I listened to Crime of the Century constantly, now it only gets a few plays a month. When you are a teenager this album seems like a classic performance rooted in teen angst, but as you get older there becomes a disconnect. Since the lyrics are so rooted in the teenage experience it can seem a bit juvenile at times. Despite this sometime juvenile approach, Crime of the Century is one of the better albums to be fished out of the sea that is 70's progressive music and is Supertramp's best work.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
July 22nd 2008


i agree. good review.

July 22nd 2008


Album Rating: 5.0

Classic album.

July 22nd 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

I actually disagree with your points on how this is an album full of teen angst. I've found that the album is more about many different forms of imprisonment. School and Bloody Well Right are about the imprisonment of school, Asylum is obviously about the imprisonment of asylums, and Dreamer, Rudy, and Hide In Your Shell are about being imprisoned by your own thoughts. The "crime" would be how people limit themselves by giving in to these imprisonments. Although "If Everyone Was Listening" is more about how people are destroying the world and nobody seems to be paying attention to it. So I don't find the album juvenile at all.

Anyway, you still backed up your points well and wrote a good review. It's a shame this band wasn't able to match this level of excellency again.

Staff Reviewer
July 22nd 2008


My linking it to teen angst is mostly because of when i got into the album and how i related to it then. I guess its always kinda stuck with me that way.

Digging: Sad Lovers and Giants - Feeding the Flame

December 19th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

Amazing album, not one bad track on here. Good review aswell but one slight point:

"The next track, Bloody Well Right, continues this theme where Roger Hodgson blast “So you think your schooling's phoney, I guess it's hard not to agree”"

That be Rick Davis; the other singer doing the blasting!

Josh D.
December 19th 2010


I wonder if I should listen to this if I really like Breakfast in America.

December 6th 2011


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Now they're planning the crime of the century

December 9th 2012


Album Rating: 5.0

This album means so much to me. :tear:

December 22nd 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

The final 4:10 of this album is some of the greatest music ever created in the history of music, and that is without a bit of
exaguration. Absolutely beautiful. Its impossible to not close your eyes and bob your head to it. Amazing.

March 4th 2014


Album Rating: 5.0

I'll be hated for this, but I think that lyrically speaking this might be the best album ever

Digging: Rush - Signals

March 4th 2014


Album Rating: 4.5

It's on par with Dark Side for me.

Digging: Sebastian Hardie - Four Moments

April 2nd 2014


Album Rating: 5.0

Pretty much the best album ever

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