Review Summary: Let me tell you a story that'll make a change
In 1974 Supertramp presented their album Crime of the Century
. With its mix of catchy and simple instrumentation, dark and cynical lyrics, plus the feeling of honest sadness an anger on its atmosphere it managed to become a true cornerstone in the genre of progressive rock. The LP was just what the band needed as they were about to break up because of the lack of success (and quality) of their previous albums, so finding themselves with a critically acclaimed and comercially succesful release was certainly a surprise.
Probably it was thanks to this unexpected success that their 1975 release: Crisis? What Crisis?
felt a little bit "rushed" as said by the band members themselves. The truth is that this album is not even close to the quality of its predecessor, however, Crime of the Century
was one of the darkest albums in prog rock, with some of the most complex songwriting the genre had seen by the time, so it was pretty difficult in the first place to even try to reach its class.
That being said, Crisis? What Crisis?
certainly isn't a masterpiece, but that doesn't mean it is a bad album at all. Actually, it is still an excellent and essential LP for every art-rock, prog rock or prog pop fan.
The band keeps its dark lyrics mixed with a happy musical atmosphere in here, so their staple sound is more than palpable. Sister Moonshine
or Ain't Nobody But Me
, which are among the best songs in the album, shows us a group that retains its energy and power: The catchiness is there, the mighty horns are there and the odd, yet classic mix of Hodgson and Davies's voices is still there.
The great lyrics, as said before, can be found in here too, now leaning more towards social criticism though, instead of the "introspective and personal" feeling of their previous LP. A topic that would evolve in the band and would culminate in 1979's Breakfast in America
On the instrumental side, Supertramp is known for their lack of "complexity". They were able to create dense atmospheres and powerful climaxes without ever falling into the "wankery" that's typical in progressive rock and that's something that we can still appreciate in here even though if it isn't in such a big extent as it is in the other albums of their classic era (1974-1979); Another Man's Woman
is probably the best example of this, by far the best song in the record, its second half works as one of the best moments in the band's whole discography and works perfectly as a summary of their unique style and ambience.
But we started this review stating that the album felt rushed in comparison to other releases by the band. Why is that? If many of the classic elements of the band are in here, why is it that Crisis? What Crisis?
doesn't shine as bright as, let's say, Crime of the Century
or Breakfast in America
? Well, let's say, there's a big problem with the consistency of the LP: The first side is strong, energetic and retains almost everything of what made of Supertramp a legend in the genre, but Side B just doesn't feel as powerful. Poor Boy
, Just A Normal Day
or the closer feel a little bit monotonous and lack those special moments in most of classic Supertramp songs that made them unique, so even if Lady
or The Meaning
are excellent songs and try to keep up the quality of Side B it just feels like there are moments of absolute "filler" in this album where nothing truly striking happens.
Still, even if inconsistent, Crisis? What Crisis?
is an awesome album that's worth checking. It is certainly not the band's best but it deserves to be part of its "Classic Four" period and still shines on its own, which is extremly difficult considering how hard it was to keep up to the quality of its predecessor.
Supertramp would later release the excellent Even in the Quietest Moments...
and the almost classic Breakfast in America
, culminating its classic era with the departure of Roger Hodgson in 1983 after the band created ...Famous Last Words...
which was the proof of the internal problems between the band members. They would never top the excellence of this era ever again, but during this short span of six years they managed to create a unique style of prog, simple and catchy, yet dark and profound that was impressed in four albums, Davies and Hodgson appeared to the world as one of the most creative songwriters in popular music and Supertramp made it into the olympus of prog, earning a place among the biggest names in the genre with their honest music that felt so different when compared to the pretentiousness that was typical in the prog scene.
In 1975 Supertramp was:
Rick Davies - Vocals, Keyboards, Harmonica
Roger Hodgson - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
John Anthony Helliwell - Wind Instruments, Guitar
Bob C. Benberg - Drums, Percussion
Dougie Thomson - Bass