Monday, June 15, 2009


6-15-09 Supertramp

Not a group that I am an expert on…I do not own any dedicated titles by ‘em. I started working in a hippie record store in the summer ’76, so…I have heard all the Supertramp that I will ever need to hear. In fact, as I type this – “Give A Little Bit” is playing in my office. I may have a track or two on a sampler LP or CD, but…couldn’t tell you which ones.

I did once own a Supertramp 45 called “Land Ho”, which wasn’t on any LP. I believe it comes after “Indelibly Stamped” and before “Crime Of The Century”. Charly P., their one-time manager (he also used to manage Dread Zeppelin, which is how I met him) told me that this 45 was the ‘missing link’ for fans of “Crime of the Century”, as it was the first thing performed / recorded by that exact incarnation of the band. I believe I found the 45 at the Capitol Records swap meet in Hollywood, circa ’76. Realizing that it was totally 100% non-LP, I sold it for e hefty profit to an adoring Supertramp fan, at a different swap meet (it was a Spanish pressing with a picture sleeve, if you must know).

You heard ‘em on the radio – they got played in the hippie record store…I really got a snoot full of Supertramp – or Stupidtramp, as their derogatory name was, as I recall. When Mobile Fidelity schedules an audiophile LP release of “Crime of the Century” (“1/2 Speed Mastering”) for about four times the cost of a ‘normal’ copy…ho hum…

After “Breakfast In America”, they just seemed to peter out. The double live album didn’t go nuts, and the next studio album didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Then there were the solo albums, none of which I can actually remember. I remember a wise-arse in the music business always saying aloud (to whoever would listen): “If they’d only make a “Best of Supertramp” LP, that would give us something we could actually sell!” – which, of course, never happened in LP days.

Back when A&M Records existed, they eventually gave Supertramp a volume in their “Classics, Vol. xx” series – most of which did nicely for a late 80’s label ‘best of’. However, it did not contain “Land Ho”, so I never gave it a second thought.

Flash forward to the modern age – Universal now controls (most of) A&M’s catalogue, and there is a 2CD set – “Best Of”? “Millennium….something” – I don’t know! But the darned thing actually has “Land Ho” on it! Where’s my inexpensive copy of it? Oh, but then that’s still about 1 ¾+ worth of a CD of Stupidtramp material that I am not interested in. Maybe I know somebody who bought it (for “Land Ho”?) who would dub “Land Ho” for me?

It’s not very often that I ever write about artists about whom I am totally non-committal. I do not wish to offend fans of this band, or the folks who plunked out big time to own a ½-Speed mastered LP copy of “Crime Of The Century”. There is a funny Supertramp parody on a Barron-Knights LP, and a French band (“Les Satellites”) that does a funny instrumental dub reggae cover of “Breakfast In America” ( = “Break Dub in Amerika”).


Jim said...

Say what you will about Supertramp's music, but the art direction on "Breakfast In America" deserved every award it ever won! There will never be another album so thoroughly designed. I know it won the Grammy for package design in 1980 and it was well deserved.

But, yeah, it was funny how that album went monster after years of subtle commercial growth only to be the alpha and omega of their megastardom. They looked set up to be the next Fleetwood Mac for a while, there.

Roger Hodgson's high vocals were not my cup of tea.

Ron Kane said...

For me, they were way over-played. Ditto, my feelings about the high vocals.

Brian Ware said...

I'm on the same page as you guys here. I own nothing by Supertramp and have no wish to. If I had to pick one song I reckon it would be "The Long Way Home". At least the harmonica is agreeable.

Jim said...

Hey, I just realized - half of the band have beards! See? My theory holds!