Supertramp – Slow Motion

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Album Review by Dr Kuma

Supertramp’s latest release SLOW MOTION is the band’s first new recording in 5 years. Fans will know all there is to know about the group, whilst the rest of the public will only know a couple of the radio friendly singles which include THE LOGICAL SONG and BREAKFAST IN AMERICA, taken from the #1 album of the same name. That was back in 1979 and not a lot has really been mentioned about them since. This strange little album will obviously attract loyal fans, who will no doubt play this latest offering on their Volvo stereos as they make there way home from work on a summer’s night but as an album, it’s a weird old mixture.

The opening title track, SLOW MOTION sounds like something John Lennon was writing and signing around the time of DOUBLE FANTASY, an album lovers of Supertramp will no doubt have in their collection as opposed to the grittier PLASTIC ONO BAND. It’s a nice sentiment about hitting that comfortable time of your life, with nice use of the cello. The production by Rick Davies sounds a little too tinny and clean throughout the album, is by Rick Davies. A dirtier sound to match the obvious jazz feel of the later tracks would have been better, but that’s just personal opinion.

LITTLE BY LITTLE speaks for itself. Little time spent on a little tune. This really sounds like a soundtrack cut from some 80’s beach movie like COCKTAIL. There is nothing to help singer Davies’ vocals from sounding just like a hundred other unsigned vocalists. If the discerning listener is into latter day Santana, they love this. I didn’t. The track is full of juvenile rhyming couplets, so basic a kid could have written them, but the overall feel of the track helps carry them off. Classic lines include; “In this kind of weather, you need a sweater, it’s wetter, than Ameret(a), She’s wearing leather, there’s nothing better”! We are even treated to the classic “my way or the highway” line. Why not add this to the song; “Take some time, try for a better rhyme”. This took me a couple of seconds, which is obviously longer than the real lines took them (we hope!).

BROKEN HEARTED features strong horns and starts off fine but then plays it safe. The record company calls this the band’s ‘retro’ style. Umm. Classic line this time;” You can wear a wig and tall shoes, but no matter what, I’ll still come after you”!

TENTH AVENUE BREAKDOWN is at last something different and far better than anything that proceeds it. Although it uses the same instruments that have appeared on all the other tracks so far, this time they are arranged in a far more interesting and varied way. It’s very ‘Randy Numan’, with strong use of piano. A great Lee Thornberg trumpet solo and good ‘storyville’ lyrics help the track. An epic that clocks in at just under 9 minutes. Not bad at all.

This is followed by another strong track A STING IN THE TAIL, again it has an upbeat ‘summer’ feel and great horn section. Nice lyrics too – “I don’t mind the summer rain, it does the garden good”.

BEE IN YOUR BONNET has a very nice cord progression coming in after a very Nile Rogers 80’s opening. The excellent chorus lifts it out of the ‘average’ and features excellent guitar lines from Mark Hart and Carl Verheyen. A complex, rewarding little number.

GOLDRUSH is the automatic ‘single’ if they wish to choose one. It’s very US radio friendly and would (or should) do very well on the American country and western charts. It’s very accessible and hard to dislike. If you are a fan of ‘Little Feat’ or some of the ‘Grateful Dead’ recordings, then this will be your favourite on the album.

DEAD MANS BLUES another 8 minute plus epic and a nice closer for the album. Although it’s more of a workout than a structured song, this is one of the albums more impressive cuts. All the instruments sound “Live” and are well used. A fitting end to an assorted album.

SLOW MOTION is like a great but directionless runner. It starts off middle of the road but half way through the race, takes a detour down an interesting, overgrown country road as opposed to the bland motorway you were expecting until half way through the journey and is all the better for it.

Here is a band who has at least tried to do something a little different. Although it’s still too MOR for my tastes.

3 stars