First Published – October 10, 2012 – Classic Rock Radio (UK)
Uncle G’s FUN Music Reviews
Spotlight: Songs Of The Century — An All-Star Tribute To Supertramp (Cleopatra Records 2012)
By Gary “Uncle G” Brown
I have been looking forward to hearing this since rock extraordinaire Billy Sherwood mentioned the Supertramp project on his official Facebook page. After that for a short time, Billy posted what was in essence a diary/making of account. Day-to-day activities so to speak. Sometimes with glossy 8×10’s with little circles and arrows pointing to various activities. Something else. Every day also, a BIG name in rock music would be added to the rooster. A lot of the musicians are associated in the field of progressive rock. Superstars from the days of yesterdays. It worked. Thanks to iTunes and a ten dollar bill, it was mine. The music blasting out my stereo speakers is simply outstanding. I’ve given it repeated listens. Gets better with every play. Very enjoyable indeed !!
“An All-Star Tribute To Supertramp” starts with a former member of King Crimson, John Wetton on vocals. The song being covered; Breakfast In America. It took a few seconds to get used to hearing John’s voice on this song. I’m so used to hearing Roger Hodgson’s. This is a tribute album. John’s singing is refreshing to hear on this tune. As is hearing Larry Fast on keyboards. The rhythm section is constant on every track; Billy Sherwood (multi-instrumentalist/producer and everything else guy) on bass, and a name associated with Sherwood’s past, Scott Connor on drums; Yoso/Circa. Guest players join them.
Track Two is a brilliant showcase for a long-time touring member of Porcupine Tree; John Wesley. One of Supertramp’s greatest hits; Take The Long Way Home. John gives a BRILLIANT performance here. Nothing unusual. The dude has a solo career worth checking out. Plus his long-standing association with Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson. Keeps him very busy. Is very good at what he does. Was glad to find out he was involved when Billy first mentioned John would be doing a track. Speaking of involved, John has also recently appeared on the recently released; The Prog Collective. Gives yet another OUTSTANDING performance. I reviewed it here on CRR UK, just recently. FYI: is on our radio station website (blog), or archived on our official Facebook page. Might just pop up doing a Google search?
Steve Morse shines on, The Logical Song.
Next up is a fan favorite of Supertramp’s; Give A Little Bit. Contains excellent work by the original guitarist of the progressive super band Yes, Mr. Peter Banks. Richard Page of Mr. Mister provides solid vocals.
One song after another, musicians such as Mr. Page are displaying their creative best. Good news if you are a fan of tribute records in general, it isn’t at all times just copying the sound of the original song. Many artists here provide their own takes. Done so tastefully, and all presented in a group atmosphere. That’s important. Supertramp played better as a solid unit. With all members participating. On stage, they proved that, again and again. Yes…Roger Hodgson did stand out. Outstanding musician. The band wasn’t just filler with a string of solos. Back to Al All-Star Tribe o Supertramp, it’s a fine art doing contributing to a tribute project. Be too original, and no one recolonizes the song. Do a clone version, and you bore everyone. Needs to be just right. Songs Of The Century – An All-Star Tribute to Supertramp (2012) — an excellent example of HOW TO make a tribute CD, worth listening to.
‘It’s Raining Again‘ shows off the chops of Geoff Downes (current keyboard player for Asia, and Yes). I come to always expect excellence with Mr. Downes. He always pays off. I’ve been a fan of his since his days with The Buggles, and Yes (Drama). I’m a DAY ONE Asia fan. Honorable Mention — Colin Moulding of XTC gave an awesome vocal performance on this song.
Could be my favorite song on here; Crime Of The Century. The main reason is that it includes some of the tastiest Rick Wakeman chops since his early solo days. His playing is very reminiscent of his work when he was done, Myths And Legends. There is that superb free flow style of playing I come to admire. This song is worth the price of the CD alone. Bass player extraordinaire Tony Levin joins in on the fun. And let us not forget our ever faithful rhythm section of Sherwood and Connor. Billy’s doing guitar duties as well when needed in every song. Plus keyboards, and backing vocals. I’m guessing he made the coffee as well.
Listening to the final product, and I’ll admit this is ALL pretty sweet. One song to the next. A testament to the group they are paying homage to. By the way, they expand on this song (Crimes Of The Century) a tad. It’s different than hearing a note for note cover. The band Wakeman is more known for playing with, Yes, perfected this. When asked in 8th grade, what my favorite song was, my answer was; America. It’s a Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel tune. A little over three minutes. Yes turns their version into a ten-minute prog delight. They owned it. Found on the Yes album; Yesterdays. Regarding Crime Of The Century, same verdict here (this group of individuals acting as a group…owned it). Thanks, Rick!! (like he’ll read this).
Annie Haslam’s voice comes beautifully out of my home speakers. The song; Dreamer. David Sancious from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band is on the Hammond organ. Such a real talent. I’ve been listening to Bruce since my days of living on the Jersey Shore, back in the ’70s. I’d buy bootleg recordings and pot accessories at a place called; The Turntable. David’s picture alongside Bruce and other E Street members standing in front of that building is located on the backside of; The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle. Dreamer’s a good mix respectful to the original, yet not a total copy of the original. Throughout this CD, where you might expect to hear keyboards, you might hear a guitar. You can say tribute CDs are just covers, and therefore having nothing original to offer. I say; “Oh no”. Accounts on what musicians are involved, and how they contribute to the project. I want it to be faithful to the original material, yet different and in tune with whose playing it. That’s achieved here, again and again.
Well into the CD, Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess is doing keyboard chores on yet another Supertramp super hit; Goodbye Stranger. Gentle Giant’s Gary Green on guitar. Billy Sherwood on lead vocals. Scott is still on drums. You could turn the stereo up on this one. It seriously rocks !!! On my first play of this CD, I repeated this song after hearing it the first time. Caught my attention immediately.
The songs ‘Rudy’, ‘Bloody Well Right’, and ‘School’, close out the Supertramp portion of the CD. All done to perfection. It’s super cool when a CD starts well, and then maintains throughout. I call them perfect albums / CDs. Not that often when it happens. That applies ESPECIALLY with tributes. I can’t remember the last one I was excited about. Frankly, I’d rather always hear original music. When I feel I want something different, listening to live recordings, and cover albums can be a VERY cool way to spend the day. This CD is very solid !! My favorite Billy Sherwood tribute has always been Paul Rodgers – Muddy Waters Blues (1993). My example shows Billy’s longevity in the business. I saw him play with Yes more than once. In my book, a solid musician. I just ordered his newest solo CD; “The Art Of Survival”, and without hearing one note played. I don’t have to preview Billy’s work. Sherwood’s a solid musician/producer (everything else) that I come to like and respect. It’s ALWAYS a pleasure hearing anything Billy is associated with.
Bonus Track: Let The World Revolve. Special appearances; original Yes members Chris Squire, and Tony Kaye. It’s an original composition…not a Supertramp song. It’s in the same ballpark. Another one that’s worth the price of the CD alone. Especially for those YesRelated Collectors out there.
Uncle G’s Rating: Need I say? On a scale of one to five stars, I rate Billy Sherwood’s Songs Of The Century: All-Star Tribute To Supertramp; 5 Stars!!!
How did I draw my conclusion you ask? I listened to the CD. Many times. On my home stereo. Nice and LOUD. I sat in the middle of my Sony speakers and paid attention to what I was listening to. I also played the CD and listened to it via my Sennheiser headphones. I have been listening to prog on these headphones and these make headphones ONLY, since the 1970s. OH…I also listened to Supertramp’s Crime Of The Century, and Breakfast In America. Just to compare. All I have been doing for the past 72 hours is digging on Supertramp/Supertramp-related music. I found it a pleasure. Watched some 70’s and early 80’s videos I found on YouTube. Supertramp was a REALLY good band. A shame when Hodgson split. While together they made some incredible music. Worth celebrating…showcasing. Job well done here. I predict repeat listens with regularity for some time to come.
Billy Sherwood Official Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BillySherwoodMusic
Cleopatra Records: www.cleorecs.com/store/
Promotion: Glass Onyon PR – www.glassonyonpr.com
Supertramp Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supertramp
Keep prog-rock alive. Buy the products…don’t just download them for free.
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