Digesting “Breakfast In America”

Here’s an interesting read about one of the most popular albums of the 1970’s, Supertramp’s “Breakfast In America”. I happen to love SUpertramp, don’t even consider them a “guilty” pleasure. They never really tasted like full blown “prog” to me, I always thought that they were more Beatles than King Crimson. And although Supertramp has been tagged as soft rock sugar merchants, if you look a little deeper you will find that there’s always been a dark side lurking just beneath the surface, lyrically and musically.

Of course the band only released 4 albums of any worth in their lifetime (Crime Of The Century, Crisis What Crisis?, Even In The Quietest Moments and Breakfast In America) and BIA is their poppy peak. Funny, though, that I never thought of this as a proper “concept” album, always thinking of it in terms of individual pieces, until I read the following article on Pop Dose by DW Dunphy. Even if you loathe the band, as a song-by-song analysis it is a really interesting read and damn fine piece of musical criticism, so go there anyway. To whet your appetite, here’s a snippet:

“This is, in fact, an album that only truly makes sense in 1979, where the idealism of only a decade prior had to give way to a creeping paranoia that so many had gone down the wrong path; indeed there actually was no right path at all, and maybe Robert Frost’s poetic musings needed to be rejected for harder, more pragmatic philosophies. This was spurred by the times: the end of the flower power movement, the OPEC oil embargo, the Iranian hostage crisis, staggering inflation at home and abroad and the first glimmer of how the worries and woe of America could affect the rest of the world. At one time, a band such as the UK-located Supertramp couldn’t lay claim to commenting on issues of the U.S. for fear of being intellectual interlopers. By 1979, they were us, we were them, and the seeds of what we now recognize as Flat-Earth Economics were starting to germinate. Perhaps they hadn’t the right to speak about these things around the time of Crisis, What Crisis? (1975), but now they were likely the only ones who could be objective in viewpoint.” 


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