Crime of the Century (album)
|Crime of the Century|
|Studio album by Supertramp|
|Recorded||Ramport Studios (South London), Scorpio Sound Studios (London), and Trident Studios (London) from February to June 1974|
|Genre||Art rock, progressive rock|
|Producer||Ken Scott, Supertramp|
Crime of the Century is the third album by English rock band Supertramp, released in 1974. Crime of the Century was their commercial breakthrough on both sides of the Atlantic, aided by the UK hit "Dreamer" and the U.S. hit "Bloody Well Right". It was a UK Top 10 album and a U.S. Top 40 album, eventually being certified Gold in the U.S. in 1977 after the release of Even in the Quietest Moments.... The album was Supertramp's first to feature drummer Bob Siebenberg (at the time credited as Bob C. Benberg), woodwinds player John Anthony Helliwell, bassist Dougie Thomson, and co-producer Ken Scott.
The album's dedication reads "To Sam", which is a nickname for Stanley August Miesegaes, the Dutch millionaire who supported the band financially from 1969–72.
Background and recording
After the failure of their first two albums and an unsuccessful tour, the band broke up, and Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson recruited new members, drummer Bob C. Benberg, woodwinds player John Helliwell, and bassist Dougie Thomson. This new line-up were sent by their record label, A&M, to a seventeenth-century farm in Somerset in order to rehearse together and prepare the album.
The album was recorded at a number of studios including Ramport Studios (owned by The Who) and Trident Studios with co-producer Ken Scott. While recording the album, Davies and Hodgson recorded approximately 42 demo songs, from which only 8 were chosen to appear on the album. Several other tracks appeared on later albums (Crisis? What Crisis?, ...Famous Last Words...). Due to a contractual agreement, all the songs are credited jointly to the two writers, but their partnership as songwriters was dissolving and some of the songs were in fact written by one or the other individually. "Asylum" was written by Davies, "Hide in Your Shell" by Hodgson, and both "School" and "Crime of the Century" are actual Davies/Hodgson collaborations. Little is known about which of the two wrote the remaining songs; Hodgson recounted that "Dreamer" began as a home tape he recorded, but is vague as to whether or not Davies had a hand in the finalised composition.
The album was named after the final song, "Crime of the Century", which the band members felt was the strongest song on the album. Shortly after his departure from Supertramp, Hodgson commented, "I've had more people come up to me and say that that song touched them more deeply than any other. That song really came together when we were living together at Southcombe and just eating, sleeping, and breathing the ideas for the album. The song just bounced between Rick and I for so many weeks before it finally took form." For unknown reasons, in several interviews both before and since, Hodgson has attributed the song as being written solely by Davies. He describes "School" as "my song basically" but admits that Davies wrote both the piano solo and a good deal of the lyrics.
Hodgson and Davies both stated that communication within the group was at a peak during the recording of this album, while drummer Siebenberg stated that he thought it was this album on which the band hit its "artistic peak".
Crime of the Century deals loosely with themes of loneliness and mental stability, but is not a concept album. Davies consciously linked the opening track "School" to "Bloody Well Right" with the line "So you think your schooling is phoney", and according to Hodgson, any unifying thread beyond that was left to the listener's imagination.
Crime of the Century was Supertramp's first U.S. Top 40 album and was eventually certified Gold in the U.S. in 1977 after the release of Even in the Quietest Moments.... The album also marked the commercial breakthrough for the band in the United Kingdom; Crime of the Century peaked at number four in the album chart in March 1975, and "Dreamer" reached number thirteen on the singles chart in the same month. The album was particularly successful in Canada, entering the chart for over 2 years and selling over 1 million copies.
In 1978, Crime of the Century was ranked 108th in The World Critic Lists, which recognised the 200 greatest albums of all time as voted for by notable rock critics and DJs. In a 1981 review, Robert Christgau was ambivalent towards the album's "straight-ahead art-rock", which he called "Queen without preening. Yes without pianistics and meter shifts." Adam Thomas's retrospective review in Sputnikmusic described it as one of the better albums of the 1970s for its powerful expression of young adult confusion and alienation, and for its consistent contrast between prog and pop elements.
In the 1987 edition of the publication, CBC's Geoff Edwards ranked Crime of the Century the 10th greatest album of all time. A 1998 public poll, aggregating the votes of more than 200,000 music fans, saw Crime of the Century voted among the all-time top 1000 albums, and it was listed in the 2005 book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Paul Elliott of Classic Rock magazine called it a progressive rock masterpiece.
Many of the songs on the album are still staples of the band's shows ("School", "Bloody Well Right", "Rudy", and the title song). Almost all of the album appears on the band's 1980 live album Paris although the tracks which feature orchestrations on the studio versions ("Asylum", "Rudy", and "Crime of the Century") were replaced by string synthesisers or Oberheim synthesisers, which were played mainly by John Helliwell with some help from Roger Hodgson.
- Side one
|1.||"School"||Hodgson and Davies||5:35|
|2.||"Bloody Well Right"||Davies||4:32|
|3.||"Hide in Your Shell"||Hodgson||6:49|
|4.||"Asylum"||Davies and Hodgson||6:45|
- Side two
|5.||"Dreamer"||Hodgson and Davies||3:31|
|6.||"Rudy"||Davies and Hodgson||7:17|
|7.||"If Everyone Was Listening"||Hodgson||4:04|
|8.||"Crime of the Century"||Davies||5:32|
The first release was on vinyl by A&M Records in 1974. In 1977 it became the first pop music LP title re-issued by the audiophile label Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. A&M released it as one of their first CDs as part of their "Audio Master Plus" series in 1984, which it then reissued in 1990. Mobile Fidelity also released its own remastered CD version on a gold disc as part of its "Ultradisc" series, in November 1984.
A new remastered CD version of the album was released by A&M in 1997, followed by a different remaster on 11 June 2002. The newer A&M remasters feature all of the album art restored plus credits and full lyrics which were missing from some earlier editions. Both 1997 and 2002 A&M remasters were from the original tapes by Greg Calbi and Jay Messina at Sterling Sound in New York.
Both remasters are heavily criticised by audiophiles who claim they were mastered "too loud" as part of the "loudness war" mastering trend. The 1997 remaster has all tracks peaking at 100 percent, significantly altering the original dynamic range of the recording and effectively adding new distortion to the sound. The 2002 edition is not quite as loud but still has much of the same effect.
In October 2014, it was announced that the album would be reissued and remastered by Ray Staff, coming in CD, digital download, and 180g vinyl with a release date of 9 December 2014. In addition to the original album, the release would include a complete recording of 1975 Hammersmith Odeon concert, a 24-page booklet of photographs, and an essay written by Phil Alexander with new interviews with Ken Scott, Dave Margereson, and most of the band members. Two 10x8 prints and a longer version of the essay were announced as exclusives of the vinyl version.
- Bob C. Benberg – drums, percussion
- Rick Davies – vocals, keyboards, harmonica
- John Anthony Helliwell – saxophones, clarinets, vocals
- Roger Hodgson – vocals, guitar, pianos
- Dougie Thomson – bass
- Other performers (all uncredited)
- Christine Helliwell – backup vocals on "Hide in Your Shell"
- Scott Gorham – backup vocals on "Hide in Your Shell"
- Vicky Siebenberg – backup vocals on "Hide in Your Shell"
- (Anonymous street musician) – saw on "Hide in Your Shell"
- Ken Scott – water gong on "Crime of the Century"
- Producers: Ken Scott and Supertramp
- Engineers: Ken Scott, John Jansen
- Original Vinyl Mastering: Ray Staff Trident Studios
- String arrangements: Richard Hewson
- Cover design and photography: Paul Wakefield
- Art direction: Fabio Nicoli
Certifications and sales
|Canada (Music Canada)||Diamond||1,000,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Gold||25,000x|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Gold||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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- Crime of the Century (Adobe Flash) at Radio3Net (streamed copy where licensed)
- Crime Of The Century (Reissue Remastered) (Adobe Flash) at Myspace (streamed copy where licensed)
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