Great Rock Albums of 1983: Supertramp- Famous Last Words
Released at the end of 1982, “Famous Last Words” by Supertramp came to my attention in the first few weeks of 1983. I happened to see the video for the biggest single off the album, “It’s Raining Again,” while at a disco in Tokyo. When I say saw the video, I mean literally. While the video was played on the club’s television screen, the music being played definitely wasn’t Supertramp. It would be a month later when I returned to Okinawa, I would finally get to hear the song matched up to the video.
As I reflect back to those early months of 1983 and some of the albums I have posted about so far, I am beginning to think that this year wasn’t a very good one for some of the established superstars of rock. It seemed that like David Bowie and Todd Rundgren, Supertramp also decided to go for a more commercial sound. In their case, “Famous Last Words” was an attempt to build on the success of their previous studio album, “Breakfast in America.” However, I don’t think this album measures up to their previous classic.
Let’s not be too negative about “Famous Last Words,” there are some bright spots on it. First, take the big single for instance. Sure, it reeks of commercialdom but there is enough of Supertramp’s presence on it to know that it is theirs. Still, there are better songs on it, like the very jazz sounding “My Kind of Lady.” The sax solo on that song does blow me away. “Crazy” and “Put On Your Brown Shoes” are also decent tunes. I do like the honky tonk piano in the latter and Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart perform backing vocals on it but my personal favourite on this album has to be “Bonnie.” To me that song is Supertramp from their glory days back in the 1970s. I’m talking stuff like my favourite Supertramp album, “Crime of the Century.”
- Put On Your Brown Shoes
- It’s Raining Again
- Know Who You Are
- My Kind of Lady
- C’est Le Bon
- Waiting So Long
- Don’t Leave Me Now
Rick Davies- keyboards, lead and backing vocals, harmonica, melodica solo on “Its Raining Again”
John Helliwell- saxophone, keyboards
Roger Hodgeson- guitar, lead and backing vocals
Bob Seibenberg- drums
Dougie Thompson- bass
“Famous Last Words” may not be as good as some of Supertramp’s more classic albums but it is enjoyable nonetheless. Maybe like so many artists back then, they were trying too hard for commercial success. It could also be why Roger Hodgeson would go solo after this album.
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