on May 29, 2009
Many of the reviews so far have indulged in reminiscencing about the 1970s, discussed the clarity of the sound, or compared the band to Pink Floyd, the Beatles, or other musical influences. Very few have mentioned anything regarding the subject matter of the songs, as if there's nothing more to them than catchy tunes and a singalong chorus. I'd like to encourage future listeners to dig deeper into the words, because this is one of the best actual "concept albums" (an overused term) ever released. A concept album is more than just an album cover, a marketing campaign, or the band deciding, "Let's try something different this time." It's a thread running through ALL of an album's songs - they're linked by a story, a recurring idea, or at the very least similar themes.
Crime of the Century's "concept" is the HUBRIS, or fatal flaws, of mankind. There are 8 total songs, 2 each of 4 different themes. For each of the 4 themes, Roger Hodgson offers the viewpoint of the introvert, followed by Rick Davies "answering" with the viewpoint of the extrovert on the same theme. The 4 themes are as follows:
1. PARANOIA: "School" and "Bloody Well Right" deal directly with the pressure exerted on individuals by academia, media, the political world, and even one's peers to conform to an idealized standard.
2. MENTAL ILLNESS: "Hide in your shell" and "Asylum" illustrate individuals who, having been failed by the aforementioned institutions, begin to lose their grip on reality when they have been denied love, trust, and respect.
3. SELF-DECEPTION /DISILLUSIONMENT: "Dreamer" and "Rudy" are about individuals who retreat into fantasy (sometimes of their own making, sometimes those of others) because they have nowhere else to turn to, only to be "awakened" when the fantasy doesn't last.
4. SELF-DESTRUCTION: "If everyone was listening" and "Crime of the Century" show mankind's fallen nature in the worst way - continuously making fatal choices, ignoring anyone who would sound the alarm, and looking for anyone but themselves to blame for their own foolishness.
While a bleak picture has been painted, never once does the album turn to despair or lapse into the morbidity and depression of the Prozac-rockers. The "message" seems to be that if we can begin by recognizing and admitting to our flaws, we can at least be prepared to deal with them and prevent them from stealing what is good about humanity: our capacity to love, create, and carry on beneath the shadow of death.
Messages aside, other commentators have written of the uniqueness of Supertramp's sound, and they are exactly right. Name another band that sounds like Supertramp. While not their very best album (I would vote for Crisis? What Crisis?), Crime of the Century is truly a timeless work of art that will be analysed and enjoyed for a long time to come. And it's one of the best-produced (credit: Ken Scott), detail-oriented albums ever! On "If everyone was listening", listen (especially with headphones) to the 3 notes on the ride cymbal when the vocal begins: left-channel, right-channel, left-channel. Fabulous!
on January 15, 2005
The first album were Rick Davies recruited a functioning, workable, contributing band, is also (in my opinion) their greatest. With the now complete lineup of Davies, Hodgson, Siebenberg, Helliwell and Thopson, Supertramp riffed off into stardom with their first big hit album and possibly their most celebrated.
Crime Of The Century consists of two stories, which both took place respectively on their original LP sides, side one consisted of School, Bloody Well Right, Hide In your Shell, and Asylum. Side Two was Dreamer, Rudy, If Everyone Was Listening, and Crime of the Century.
Side one was the story of the charachter Jimmy Cream, his youth, coming of age, and eventually, insanity. His story bears very creepy similarities to that of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett.....
Side Two is about Rudy, a quiet, brilliant and corrupted person who eventually commits the 'Crime Of The Century.'
This is the closest Supertramp got to Pink Floyd, and to me, they did much better. They found a defined style and stuck with it for latter albums, however those latter albums (save 'Brother Where You Bound') didn't seem to stick to that sound.
Definitely a must have for Pink Floyd lovers, Supertramp lovers, prog and art rock lovers, and in my opinion, the greatest album of all time.
on August 9, 2002
So many US fans of Supertramp still believe to this day that 1974's "Crime Of The Century" was the band's very first album. This is totally not true---it's actually their *third* album, following 1970's "Supertramp" & 1971's "Indelibly Stamped," both of which are only available on import, but they're both superb Tramp albums worth seeking out. Now that we've got THAT cleared up...."Crime Of The Century" was Supertramp's first commercial breakthrough, and it's a winner all the way. Many Tramp classics are on this one: "School," "Bloody Well Right," "Dreamer, "Rudy," and the title track. Singer/songwriter/ keyboardists Roger Hodgson & Rick Davies are in top form, as are their new recruits John Halliwell on sax, bassist Dougie Thomson & drummer Bob Siebenberg. The band's unique music is melodic, rocking, and catchy, and the production is supreme, as especially evidenced on this new remastered version.It wasn't their first album, but "Crime Of The Century" WAS Supertramp's first big splash in the music world. It's a terrific album, and a sign of things to come from this great band. :-)
on September 3, 2005
If you are in your late 30's or 40 something, then you grew up in the 70's, when people actually bought 12' round vinyl discs and played them on a turntable! If, by chance, you were really into high quality audio sound (refered to as an audiophile), then you should be well acquainted with this musical offering.
A company known as Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL), out of California, pioneered the "Original Master Recording" album. Also referred to as a "half-speed master". This company would seek out and only accept a first generation master tape to re-issue a popular music album. They made the choices based on popularity and sonic quality. The first few offerings were records of recorded "nature sounds" such as lightening, wind, streams, birds, etc. I think one was called The Power and the Majesty. The very first musical selection (catalog #1-005) was Supertramp's Crime of the Century. That's one of the reason's I bought this album. As a young music buyer of the day (late '78) I had not heard of Supertramp. I did know who Pink Floyd was and of course, the Beatles. I was surprised that Crime of the Century kept showing up in the MFSL offerings along with Dark Side of the Moon, Steely Dan's Aja, Fleetwood Mac I, and The Beatles Abbey Road. MFSL's Original Master Recordings were limited editions of 25,000 pressings.
In the early '80's, they began offering Ultra High Quality Records. Limited to only 5,000 pressings. These were the most incredibly high-quality analog phonograph records ever produced by anyone. Heavy, 200 gram records, pressed on virgin vinyl, so clean you could see light through it.
Again, Supertramp's Crime of the Century was one of the first five offerings, along with Floyd's Dark Side. I'm talking about a record that cost $50! Only the ultimate in sound quality music was considered for these very special discs. Even a regular Original Master Recording record cost more that a compact disc does now! About $17.
All this history lesson in sound recording media, that I have presented here, is simply to justify the fact that Crime of the Century is quite possibly the finest sounding achievment in all of recorded rock music. A "masterpiece" as another reviewer put it (pety brawl). Asking the question as to why it didn't stand in the same ranks as Pink Floyd's "The Wall" or "Dark Side of the Moon"? Well...it Does! And it always has. MFSL did not release Dark Side (#1-017) until after Crime of the Century. And way before other greats such as Steely Dan's Aja (#1-033) and Neil Diamond's fantastic sounding Hot August Night 'Live' (#2-024).
In the mid-80's, when compact discs first began to emerge in audio stores, the musical selections were very limited. Just like so many older people remember the first album or record they bought with their own money, everyone also remembers the first compact disc they purchased. I was working in the electronics section of a retail store and needed a compact disc to demo the new machines that were arriving. I went to a local high-end audio store that had a small bin of these mysterious new things called "cd's" for short. And what did I find among the half-dozen classical selections, but Supertramp - Crime of the Century (along with Rush's Moving Pictures). Paid my $18 and walked out. That was our only Demo disc for almost a year, and became quite of few people's favorite after hearing the great music that was within that plastic jewel case.
on September 24, 2002
A variant of progressive rock that some have called sophisto-rock, Supertramp never really broke any new ground - beginning with Century, they just produced a consummate trio of albums confirming that meaningful music doesn't have to be obscure and that listen-ability is preferable to the pursuit of originality for the mere sake of originality.
Century wasn't their first album. I still have the vinyl versions of their eponymous debut and their follow-up "Indelibly Stamped". However, Century was the first album to bridge prog for the masses, mixing the layered instrumental harmonics of the prog genre with the hooks and melodies of mainstream rock. The result is an album that progerati will often denigrate as a "sellout", "prog lite" or "dumbed down". Ignore such arrogant snobbery. Century is an inspired album with some truly captivating songs. It starts with one of the most sublime of album intros: "School" is not only a brooding musical statement with a memorable instrumental midsection, but provides an intelligent counterpoint to that other prog anthem, Floyd's "The Wall", making a more thoughtful protest than the trite, "...We don't need no education". Throughout their careers, Supertramp railed against the creativity-stifling straightjacket of rote schooling, but there is a stark clarity and clean simplicity to "School" that sets it above their later efforts in tracks like the "Logical Song".
The remaining songs are just as well crafted. Hide In Your Shell, Dreamer and Rudy decry the isolation that pervades modern culture. Bloody Well Right attacks bloody mindedness. Crime of the Century, the titled album track, rounds things off with a biting indictment: "Who are these men of lust, greed and glory?/Rip off the masks and let's see./But that's not right - oh no, what's the story?/There's you and there's me/That can't be right..."
Want to make the world a better place? Start with the face you see in the mirror.
Any band willing to confront hypocrisy this frankly is worth listening to. And when the message is combined with such fine musicianship, the result is an album of major stature.
A final note on the quality of the recording: make sure you purchase this digitally remastered version. I own both the older A&M disk and the newer one and the difference is like night and day. The murky sludgy sound of the prior effort was a terrible insult to the vinyl original, but this new one sounds, if anything, better than its progenitor.
on January 19, 2006
"Crime of the Century" is the name of the album , but in hindsight " Surprise Of The Century " would of been a more apt title . Supertramp were formed in 1969 around Richard Davies , with the financial backing of Stanley August Miesegaes
(Known to his friends as Sam) .In the first auditions Richard met Roger Hodgson , who were to become the nucleus of the band we now know from legend as Supertramp. After various name changes the band decided to be called Supertramp after Sam suggested it from the W. H. Davies book published in 1910, 'History of a Supertramp.'
The first self titled Supertramp album is released in 1970 , to no public or critical acclaim , the rest of the band are either fired , have a nervous breakdown ,or jump ship. A second album is recorded 'Indelibly Stamped' ( 1971) which if anything fared even worse than it's predecessor. ( Both of these albums feature rather aimless songs featuring meandering solo's and indifferent lyrics instantly forgettable .) after the tour to promote, Indelibly Stamped, the three new recruits to the band are all fired leaving just the duo of Davies and Hodgson again, at this point Sam separates from the band paying off the 60,000 pound debts already incurred , wishing them all the best for the future , but severing any further ties .
Davies and Hodgson bravely keep going recruiting new musicians in the shape of magical saxophonist John Anthony Helliwell ( Ex 'Alan Bown Sound' )The rock solid jazzy drumming of Bob.C. Benberg ( Ex 'Bees Make Honey ', and 'Ilford Subway' with American Scott Gorman before he became famous with 'Thin Lizzy'.)Perhaps most importantly of all Dougie Thomson came in on Bass guitar and also took over the business management of the band .At this point the band are gigging day to day to survive whilst writing new material for the proposed new album . But A&M Records had no future plans for the band, in fact they thought Supertramp had imploded . Roger Hodgson, Richard Davies under the watchful eye of new partner Dougie Thomson went back to A&M Records to plead their case for another bite at the cherry. For once somebody at the record company got it right .
In November 1973 the band are moved lock stock and if you want smokin' barrel to a farm in Somerset ,England to work on the new material for the next album , from there in February 1974 they are moved onto Trident Recording Studio's in London with the excellent Ken Scott holding down production duties , in June the band finish off recordings in the famous Ramport Studio's .The third album under the Supertramp banner is released in September 1973, and with the full weight of the A&M publicity machine behind them, coupled with some ground breaking and prestigious live concerts, the band become overnight sensations . The first single off the album " Dreamer" ( Which was to be the template for the Supertramp sound from here on,hammering piano, searing guitar licks , beautifully contrasting harmonised vocals, with catchy amusing lyrics , combustible saxophone and clarinets ,with a jazz influenced rhythm section.) was to peak at Number 13 in the British charts followed by the album itself which was in the Top Five by Christmas of that year .
All the songs on the album have a conceptual theme to them in this case insanity . All sorts of insanity whether it be brought on by ,Education( School), Dreaming( The first single), Love (Rudy),Shyness ( Hide In Your Shell) or authority ( The title track). Every track is instantly recognisable as Supertramp , and the album as a whole runs together perfectly , starting with the haunting harmonica opening of School to the final rousing crescendo of the title track . In-between there are some splendid melodies ranging from many of the bands influences ,Folk, Progressive/Rock, Pop, Jazz and the Classics ,combining the vocal talents of both Hodgson and Davies in there contrasting manner, giving Supertramp that essential variety,which is used in quite devastating effect on the albums centrepiece song Asylum ,where they both sound as if they are completely going off the planet , quite a blend you may think , but it all gels to stirring effect .
Supertramp were to go on to conquer the Adult oriented world of Rock music ,even the advent of Punk Rock did not dent their mercurial rise to Stardom . Three more smash hit albums were to follow, " Crisis What Crisis?" (1975) , " Even In The Quietest Moments" ( 1977) and culminating in the Worldwide Number One album "Breakfast in America"( 1979) which was to spawn four Hit singles on it's own ( In those days Hit singles used to mean something .) The band toured Internationally on the strength of these records and would fill Stadiums where ever they went .
As in many marriages ,something that started out as blissfully perfect ruptured into bitterness and in family fighting, after one more not so successful album and world tour ,Roger Hodgson left the family taking with him John Anthony Helliwell, leaving Richard Davies to carry on with the name Supertramp . Of course by this time none of them needed to work for the money , and really did not care, nor to be quite honest did the public, enough was enough . Both carried on their careers in a very lack lustre manner , but were never to find that original spark again . All good things must come to an end.The Tramp was super for a long time and made enough to retire to it's mansion , I do like a story with a happy( If not perfect) ending .I wonder if Stanley August Miesegaes " Sam" ever got repaid for his original funding of the dream?
Mott The Dog.
on December 13, 2013
This CD is virtually useless, as the remastering was done so HORRIBLY that the soft & medium volume passages pump loud/soft as though someone were randomly spinning the volume knobs up & down - completely ruining the music to the point of actually making my head hurt. The ENTIRE Remastered Supertramp series is the same way (at least I know that so is 'Even in the Quietest Moments', 'Crisis What Crisis' & 'Famous Last Words' as I ordered them all at the same time) - I had sooooo wanted to enjoy this music again, as my vinyl copies are now aging, and I had waited for remastered versions to bring Supertramp's music back to life for me. Instead, some incompetent engineer tried to use a single-band compander noise reduction technique and literally stripped all of the musicality out of the softer passages, and muddled the rest as well. If you love Supertramp music like I do, PLEASE STAY AWAY from this "Remastered" series - the chop job was a crime... Yes, the CRIME OF THE CENTURY... and I had to return the entire series.
It's the little things that matter most. A&M's earlier release of Crime of the Century sounded awful. Supertramp's most ambitious prog-rock album certainly deserved better; Mobile Fidelity Sound's release of the album was a big improvement. Of all the Supertramp reissues this year, Crime sounds best; it's sound is fuller, bigger and finally matches the ambitious concept behind the album.
It's a crime that A&M chose not to reissue this fine album with any audio extras or notes. Crime is as bare bones as reissues come; the original lyrics and artwork are featured but, sadly, there's no comments from any of the band members. If Rhino had reissued this album, you can be sure that the album would have been packed with extras (an example of how it should be done is the 2 disc debut album by the Cars. The original single disc is also available but the 2 disc version is available for the fans).
Should you purchase this album? If you like or love Supertramp, frankly, the answer is yes. This album has never sounded quite this good before. Kudos on the sound but two thumbs down on the packaging. I'd give it 4 1/2 stars.
on February 14, 2015
This was heard on an audiophile system, McIntosh & Oppo) not an "out of the box" package. OK, is this worth listening to? Yes, unless you have the old Mobile Fidelity UHQR vinyl version. Then you may have issues. Are there issues with the sound? A few. There is some added bass in passages that was unnecessary, as Snowdog mentioned. We also found a few passages to be overly bright, almost to the point of becoming shrill. So we just dropped the sound level. If you want to listen at serious levels, then you may be making adjustments. As others mentioned, it is very clean sounding. Almost too clean. Have to agree that this is off another digital track and not the original tapes. That said, if you want something with good, clear sound, this may be for you if you don't own a cd version that you are happy with. Just don't listen at near concert level. Forgot to mention, we listened to the 2.0 PCM selection. One other odd thing, if you decide to use video and make your selection of one of the other formats, and you don't see the track playing listing......it was pushed up to the top left in a small box. Kind of odd.
on June 10, 1999
Supertramp's "Crime of the Century" was the first record I ever bought (back in 1981), and for good reason. For the Supertramp fan (or any fan of classic and progressive rock), this album encapsulates all that is Supertramp (moving, multiple textures of music - electric, acousic, orchestral; lyrics poetically spelling out their frustrations with modern - back then - British society; great artwork; the first album with the "classic" lineup and an overall package from School's harmonica beginning to the title track's harmonica fade-out that entertains and compels). Just how great is it? Seven of the album's eight tracks are featured on the band's live album "Paris" recorded six years later (that starts with, what else, "School" and ends with "Crime of the Century"). The only song not included live, "If Everyone Was Listening," is as significant as all the rest, because each song transitions seamlessly to the other until what we are left with as "Crime of the Century" fades to a starless black is a musical experience that fuses everything in its existence so perfectly that Supertramp would never duplicate it again. Rick Davies' piano (best heard on "Rudy"), Roger Hodgson's guitar (likewise "Bloody Well Right"), Dougie Thomson's bass ("School"), Bob C. Benberg's drums ("Crime of the Century") and John Anthony Helliwell's sax/clarinet (all of them) remind us that Supertramp was a BAND, a concept so few groups could claim (then or since). A classic and a standard, an album that shaped my entire views on rock and roll and influenced my every record purchased thereafter for years to come.