Supertramp’s story is not unusual. The story of rock bands that couldn’t stand their success is an old one. From its formation in 1969 through the seventies, Supertramp put out a series of critically applauded albums with some of the most commercially successful singles of the decade, reaching their zenith with the 1975 monster hit, Breakfast in America.
The artistic nucleus of the band was its founders, Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson. Each working individually, they composed the songs and wrote most of the lyrics. Hodgson did most of the lead singing, but Davies did his share as well. Hodgson also began playing the Wurlitzer electric piano which in some ways became the band’s signature sound. Trouble was too much of a good thing, and after a 1983 tour, Hodgson left the band.
Why? The reasons are unclear. Hodgson has said that there were no personal problems with Davies, but that hasn’t stopped speculation. Especially since the two made a legal agreement that they would no longer perform each others’ songs. Hodgson has gone on to pursue a solo career. Davies continued with Supertramp. Neither of them has met with the same kind of success.
Now Hodgson is back with a collection of live performances of some of his greatest hits. These are songs he has said in an interview he still loves to sing. “My songs come from a very personal place inside me and they carry my beliefs and my dreams and my philosophy of life.” More importantly, they are songs we still love to hear. They have been available as digital downloads on Hodgson’s official web site and will soon be out on a CD. Classics Live collects dynamic performances from the singer’s 2010 world tour: Brazil, Germany, Norway, Venezuela and Paris. If the album shows anything, it shows that Hodgson still has that distinctive voice that thrilled us all back in the day and the songs themselves are as alive today as they ever were.
The CD opens with “Take the Long Way Home” from Breakfast in America and adds three other songs from one of the finest rock albums ever recorded: “The Logical Song,” “Lord is it Mine?,” and “Breakfast in America.” From the 1974 Crime of the Century there are three songs: “School,” “Dreamer,” and “Hide in Your Shell.” There is an acoustic version of “Two of Us” from the 1975 Crisis? What Crisis? and Even the Quietest Moment (1977) is represented by the hit, “Give a Little Bit.” “It’s Raining Again” from 1982’s Famous Last Words, Hodgson’s last album with Supertramp, ends the album. The only song from his solo career is “Only Because of You.”
If you are too young to have been around in the seventies when Supertramp was at its heights, here is a collection that will give you a good idea of what made them so great. For the elderly among you, this is a collection that is bound to bring back some fine memories. Unlike some singers who seem to have grown tired of singing the songs that made them famous, Hodgson recognizes the “deep connection that fans have” with these songs and he performs them with the same passion and vigor he did forty years ago. Classic is the right title for these songs; classy is the right word to describe the singer.