Classes started today! I think I’m going to enjoy them. So there’s that. I ended up going with kind of an old one this week (meant for last week, to be honest), so if you don’t know the album now you do and you need to go listen to it.
Album: Breakfast In America Artist: Supertramp
Ah, Supertramp. Usually when I say I listen to Supertramp, I get one of two responses: 1) “Superwho?” or 2) “Sweet! Aren’t they before your time?”
Why yes, they are. But that doesn’t make them any less awesome. I remember when I was little, my dad used to go on and on about Supertramp all the time and from circa age eight to about 15 I didn’t really realize what he was on about. Turns out, you were right Dad. Supertramp’s Breakfast In America is pretty good.
So a little bit of background: Supertramp is a British band that emerged in the 70s after a lot of experimentation with band members. I guess you could argue that Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson were the two main members. They started out as pretty great friends, but over the course of the band’s time together they eventually drifted apart. Breakfast In America, while listing every track as “words and music by Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson,” was actually written at a point in time where Davies and Hodgson did most of their writing separate.
Breakfast In America was released in March of 1979. It was their sixth studio album, and while most of the members feel that it wasn’t the best album they’d put out, it went on to be the band’s most successful album, winning two Grammy Awards. The album is admittedly a little more poppy than some of their earlier albums (which could be responsible for its success), but it’s kinda fun to listen to because you can definitely hear a Beatles influence.
Now, despite the fact the band claims the album wasn’t a shot at America, the album does appear to be some sort of satire. The album cover feature New York City made out of — you guessed it — breakfast-y things and a waitress holding a glass of orange juice (obviously meant to be the Statue of Liberty). The track for which the album was named for contributes to this unrealistic image of America: lines like “They got to have ‘em in Texas/cause everyone’s a millionaire” and “See the girls in California” reveal the preconceived stereotype.
As I mentioned in a previous paragraph, the album was very successful. Breakfast In America produced four singles: “The Logical Song,” “Goodbye Stranger,” “Breakfast in America,” and of course “Take the Long Way Home.” All of these tracks contain heavy elements of keyboard and woodwind (specifically saxophone), which is kind of Supertramp’s thing. And, in addition to the kind of psychedelic sound you’d expect from the Beatles, Hodgson contributes an impressive falsetto characteristic of the Bee Gees. Together, the elements produce a sound so typically 70s, but so much better.
Admittedly, Davies and Hodgson could probably carry the group as a whole because you don’t hear much besides keyboard and vocals (and some drumming in the background), but occasional tracks like “Goodbye Stranger” and “Just Another Nervous Wreck” have a pretty prominent guitar sound. I find their guitarist to be quite talented. If you need evidence, go listen to the end of “Goodbye Stranger.”
However, for as much as I do enjoy this album, I do tend to agree with Sputnik Music’s Tyler Fisher in that I find the album’s singles to be the best tracks on the album and I find the track “Lord Is It Mine” to be quite — I don’t want to say terrible, because that’s harsh, but I really don’t like it (read Tyler’s review here). But overall, Breakfast In America delivers. It’s an album that my turntable sees quite a lot, actually. Not only does it have an upbeat dance number, but also the kind of music you can just chill to. Supertramp manages to take their audience on the kind of 70s adventure that almost makes you forgive the 70s for disco. If you’re looking to add some to your music collection, this one’s a definite.
If you haven’t already checked out my good internet friend Sam’s page yet, please do! There is a link that you can copy on the side. Also, I’m officially changing the URL to youroldersistersmusic.wordpress.com this Saturday, so this is your heads up. Until then, keep listening!
Honorable Song Mentions: The Logical Song, Goodbye Stranger, Breakfast in America, Take the Long Way Home, and just about any other track except Lord Is It Mine (because it just isn’t good)