In 1974, an instant classic was released upon the public, an album showcasing both innovative instrumentation, fascinating harmonies between singers, and performances
Crime of The Century was a record that just simply rocketed Supertramp into becoming recognized for what immensely talented musicians they were. The production behind each track has this outstanding spacious feel and it sits, matching the interesting genre that most people will call “art rock.” This is still rock n roll at its finest points, but the way Supertramp modifies the formula and the way they are able to manipulate each track into becoming such a powerful and well layered song, is something of magic.
Crime of The Century begins the track “School,” the wails of the harmonica has just become so iconic in the way it echoes in the room. It begins to set the space, giving off this ominous sound that leads into a child’s scream, then finally the music comes blasting in. I loved the use of layering on Crime of The Century, the way that each track has such depth and finding something new becomes almost child’s play after each listen.
Supertramp then keeps the pace with the following two tracks, “Bloody Well Right” and “Hide In Your Shell,” which are both a powerhouse of saxophones and horns behind the almost hopeless lyrics each of these tracks. “Write your problems down in detail, take them to a higher place, You’ve had your cry- no I should say wail, in the meantime hush your face,” paints this bleak picture of no free speech on “Bloody Well Right.”
Then following, “Hide In Your Shell” starts out and seems to be a more slowed down, and almost having this symphonic sound. The track then ramps up to this emotional conversation that happens inside oneself. It illustrates through the lyrics the confusion of where one’s life has headed as they become older, and start to see things much differently than what they were.
“Asylum” follows and this is easily the most dramatic of the tracks on Crime of The Century. It makes a point to show this internal struggle of, what one’s life had come to. The track starts beautifully with these piano keys being played over what would soon becoming an intense fight for sanity. Eventually the blissful piano keys disappear and “Asylum” slowly falls down this rabbit hole of crashing sounds being played together to create what seems to be a split personality in the music.
Crime of The Century really focuses so well on a story of one person trying to fit in to a society that just will not accept them. The tracks like “Asylum,” Dreamer,” and even “Rudy” paint this actually quite daunting life of what seems to be a person that will never be allowed to live how they want. In the track “Dreamer” it simply explains how the dreamer in this situation is ridiculed for being just that. How his ideas will never be anything more, he is just a “Stupid little dreamer.”
Supertramp created what I would call a rock opera, it shows the story of a person trying to fit into a society, that will only throw them away, lock them up, and destroy the key. While the music is progressive and quite beautiful, it contrasts to the morbid overtone of how we, as a society will always be ridiculed for out ideas and never truly be free. Either way, Supertramp opens up a new world, not just musically, but narratively as well.