What’s the connection between Supertramp and Canadians?
Give a little bit of your love to Supertramp
I reckon I love Supertramp because I’m half Canadian. Their music has weirdly appealed to me for over 35 years now, and I still play their main 4 releases (Crime Of The Century, Crisis? What Crisis?, Even In The Quietest Moments and Breakfast IN America) more regularly than makes sense.
Canada has always ‘gotten’ the ‘Tramp. The rest of the world has also been keen on their particular blend of sophisto-rock. America finally got them for a brief while in 1979 and 1980, right after Breakfast In America. Due to a sub-par follow up to Breakfast (Famous Last Words), America and its fickle listening habits dropped them like a steaming pile of poo. Roger Hodgeson, author of a great majority of their hits (Logical Song, Dreamer, Take The Long Way Home, Give A Little Bit, etc), quit soon after and forged ahead with a largely sub-par solo career, the one exception being his first effort, the great In The Eye Of The Storm. The rest of the band is, miraculously, still touring and utilizing the Supertramp name to sell out mid-size stadiums across Europe and, of course, in Canada.
“The unholy sounds emanating from the small flat did attract the attention of a young Dutch Millionaire by the name of Stanley August Miesegaes, who happened to be passing by one day. Curious, repulsed and more than a little bit turned on, he followed his ears and knocked on their door. Introducing himself as “A Dutch Millionaire” who wanted to “finance their future“, he invited himself in. He was a sight to behold, dressed in forest green pantaloons, a red and white furled ’blouse’ of sorts and polished wooden shoes, he certainly seemed an unlikely benefactor.”
To attempt to create a link between Canada and the music of Supertramp I have compiled a list of truisms about Canada for you all to chew on (to give me a moment to actually think of a reason!):
Canada have great beer commercials.
Tim Horton’s Donuts kicks Dunkin Donut’s butt.
Maple Syrup kicks Mrs. Butterworth’s butt
In the war of 1812 Canadiens (most likely drunken Canadians) burned the White house and most of Washington.
Their “Civil war” was led by a drunken, and possibly insane, man by the name of William Lyon McKenzie.
The average Canadian dog sled team can kill and devour a grown human in less than three minutes, and have been known to do so on occasion.
Canadians don’t have much of a taste for powdered bear testicles, but they know who does, and they’re willing to sell them.
They wear socks (black ones, if possible) with their sandals.
They can out-drink most Americans.
Ok, digested all that yet? Good, ‘cause I’ve got a possible connection here. Supertramp, like most Canadians, have a great sense of humor and have never taken themselves too seriously. Neither have a pretentious bone anywhere in their body.
“Even though the band was in a terrible state of mind, they once more put their differences aside and recorded yet another album. Featuring Rick’s younger brother on the cover ￼, Breakfast In America would be the bands biggest success, selling over 15,000,000 copies worldwide, with over 14,000,000 being sold in France alone! But success affects people in different ways, and not always in a positive way. Roger, always the frugal one, put his royalties in Guinness stock while Rick pissed his away on male enhancement medications and elephant steroids, ending up alone in a hotel near a Taco Bell on the Hollywood strip, as evidenced by the lyrics to his masterful song Just Another Nervous Wreck:
“I’m feeling so alone now/ They cut the telephone uh huh/ Yeah my life is just a mess…I threw it all away now/ I could have made a fortune/ I lost the craving for success”.
It’s the same reason why my wife (a full blooded American) doesn’t see the funny in SCTV (if you don’t know what this is you should be ashamed of yourselves!). Supertramp made modest, catchy, keyboard driven rock and roll, and that’s it. Although some of it was a little too sticky sweet in places the majority of their stuff had a weird, very English, sense of the absurd that has aged very well. Their funky electric keyboard sound, too, has retained it’s charms over the years and countless bands (good bands) have gone on record citing the ‘Supertramp Sound’ as a major influence, Jellyfish and AIR to name but two.
They deserve a critical re-evaluation and rehabilitation. Queen, E.L.O., 10CC and even the mostly abhorrent STYX, get a lot of love for Christ’s sake. Not throwing some their way would indeed be the crime of the century.
“In the summer of 1980, Rick tried to rob a travel agency on Wilshire Blvd in LA, not aware until it was too late that the business didn’t conduct many cash transactions. He was arrested at the scene and released on $30,000 bail the following evening.
After Rick’s trial and eventual release from prison (he received only 6 months due to a ‘stupidity’ clause his lawyer leveraged), the band, exhausted and bitter, plodded back into the studio to make yet another album. Famous Last Words was to be their epitaph, at least for the classic line-up. Yielding the uplifting “It’s Raining Again” as it’s only hit, the band soon went its different ways.
Roger became a successful solo artist in his own right and joined Ringo Star’s All Star Band for a stint in the late 1990’s and is still performing to this day. He was also asked to mentor Canadian Idol’s Top 7 contestants, alongside Dennis De Young, a founding member of the group STYX, which he promptly declined.
Rick carried on along with the rest of the original lineup for two more albums, Free As A Bird (a NOT so obscure dig at Roger), and Brother Where You Bound?, Rolling Stone giving them ½ star apiece.
The famed critic David Fricke wrote a simple, five word review for Brother Where You Bound?, that said: “The bargain bin, that‘s where.”
Dougie left the band soon after and eventually won an Oscar for his portrayal of Augustine Bastard in the critically acclaimed BBC production of “Carry On: Other Analogous Documents Preserved in the Public Record Office” and eventually married Jane Seymour, of which they have 7 children.
Bob C Benberg went on to become a public servant in his home town of Weakerthin, Alabama (pop. 234), becoming Mayor for 4 years before being forced out and sent to the Formosa Nervous Hospital where he remains to this day.”