[Review] Supertramp: Crisis? What Crisis? (1975)

It didn’t contain a pair of big hits, but it’d be a crime to miss this.

Kronomyth 4.0: Supertramp’s midlife crisis.

After eating so many flat and flavorless tramps (Paris, Indelibly Stamped, Famous Last Words), finally a bum I can sink my teeth into. Crisis? What Crisis? is Christmas come early: ten progressive pop songs patterned on the eccentric masters (10cc, The Kinks, Wings). It’s not progressive rock, never was, but it is ambitious and tuneful.

The first side feels like a concept, especially when “A Soapbox Opera” rolls around. That it follows the wonderful “Ain’t Nobody But Me,” which followed the fine “Sister Moonshine,” which followed the charming “Easy Does It,” makes for one of the most perfect sides of plastic in the Supertramp collection (I’d even give it the nod over the second side of Breakfast). I haven’t heard Crime*; maybe that’s much better (Quietest quite frankly baffled me). (*I’ve since hear Crime of the Century and it’s pretty awesome.)

Personally, Crisis came at a perfect time. I was beginning to think that Supertramp just had the one good album (Breakfast) and a few good songs (“Dreamer,” “Bloody Well Right,” “Give A Little Bit”). But this album is loaded with wonderful boobytraps the likes of which I hadn’t heard on a pop album since Sheet Music or Venus and Mars. That Crisis doesn’t contain any big hits actually worked to its advantage, since it made every song on here a new discovery for me.

If you arrived late for Breakfast, you need to go back to Crisis. It’ll help you form an appreciation for the band’s pop artistry, much moreso than an Indelibly Stamped anyway. And while I usually take pains to tell you that Supertramp isn’t a prog band, “The Meaning” reminds me a lot of Gong and, I will concede, qualifies as a prog song. If I find a few more like “The Meaning,” I may change my mind.

Original elpee version

A1. Easy Does It (2:17)
A2. Sister Moonshine (5:15)
A3. Ain’t Nobody But Me (5:12)
A4. A Soapbox Opera (4:50)
A5. Another Man’s Woman (6:20)
B1. Lady (5:24)
B2. Poor Boy (5:08)
B3. Just A Normal Day (3:49)
B4. The Meaning (5:21)
B5. Two of Us (3:29)

All songs written by Roger Hodgson and Richard Davies.

The Players

Bob C. Benberg (drums and percussion), Richard Davies (vocals and keyboards), John Anthony Helliwell (wind instruments and vocals), Roger Hodgson (vocals, guitars and keyboards), Dougie Thomson (bass) with Richard Hewson (orchestral and choir arrangements). Produced by Ken Scott and Supertramp; engineered by Ken Scott.

The Pictures

Album design concept by Richard Davies. Album design by Fabio Nicolo, Paul Wakefield, Dick Ward.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and 8-track in November 1975 in the UK (A&M, AMLH/CAM-68347), the US and Canada (A&M, SP/8T-4560), Australia (A&M, L35725), Japan (A&M, GP-279) and the Netherlands (A&M, 394 560-1) with innersleeve. Reached #20 on the UK charts and #44 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (A&M, AMP-7044).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in Australia (A&M, 394560) and the US (A&M, 493347).

2 thoughts on “[Review] Supertramp: Crisis? What Crisis? (1975)

  1. So…have you heard Crime of the Century since writing this review? You should. That album and Crisis are cut from the same quality cloth. Some argue that Crime is better…I usually counter with Crisis. But I wouldn’t be insistent about it. It’s a win either way.

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