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Classic Rock News And Views
August 6, 2012
I don’t normally pay a whole lot of attention to news about tribute or cover albums, but when I heard that there was a new tribute album in the works to honor the musical phenomenon that was Supertramp, it made me sit up and take notice. Not only because Supertramp was one of my favorite bands of all time, but also because of the names of the musicians who are set to lend their talents to the project.
An impressive lineup of classic rock legends have assembled to record some of Supertramp’s most recognizable hits. Coming out of groups such as Yes, The Doors, Asia, The Zombies, and Toto, this musical team obviously has high regard for the group that brought the world hits such as “Give A Little Bit” and “Dreamer” – songs that just about everyone has heard at one time another, in a commercial, movie soundtrack or on the radio.
The new album aptly titled Songs of The Century (An All-Star Tribute To Supertramp) includes these timeless tracks as they were performed by artists including Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman, Tony Kaye, Peter Banks and Billy Sherwood who are all current or former members of Yes. Also included are Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow/Deep Purple fame, Robby Krieger of The Doors, John Wetton and Geoff Downes of Asia, Mickey Thomas of Jefferson Starship, Steve Porcaro of Toto and Rod Argent of The Zombies.
The whole idea was cooked up by Sherwood, who sounds like a long-time Supertramp fan as he talked about his inspiration to put the project in motion.
“Supertramp is a great band. They’ve written so many hits that you can’t even count them all,” Sherwood said. He’ll get no argument from me. I often sit in amazement for hours after queuing up a few albums’ worth of Supertramp and wonder how they came up with so many great songs.
My impression of Supertramp is also influenced by my experience when I saw them live in Boston sometime back around the early 1980’s. I’ve waxed nostalgic about that show before and declared that it was the best-sounding concert I have ever attended. Something – by the way – that has not changed since. To this day I wonder how they pulled it off.
Sadly, Supertramp’s two primary songwriters, Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson went their separate ways a short while after that amazing show. Even after Hodgson’s departure in 1983, the group continued on and released at least one more album that I personally consider to be “classic Supertramp,” 1985’s Brother Where You Bound.
In 1997, the group released Some Things Never Change, and although it doesn’t quite measure up to earlier albums, it’s one that I actually do like and listen to along with all the other Supertramp albums I have.
Although the idea was bandied about a few times since the split in 1983, Davies and Hodgson never did get back together and it seems unlikely that they ever will. Davies has continued on with the Supertramp name while Hodgson soldiers on as a solo artist, performing many Supertramp hits for loyal fans while touring.
The new tribute album, which is set for an August 14th release includes the following Supertramp hits:
1. Breakfast In America – John Wetton, Larry Fast
2. Take The Long Way Home – John Wesley
3. The Logical Song – Mickey Thomas, Steve Morse, Tony Kaye
4. Give A Little Bit – Richard Page, Peter Banks
5. It’s Raining Again – Colin Moulding, Geoff Downes
6. Crime Of The Century – Billy Sherwood, Rick Wakeman, Tony Levin
7. Dreamer – Annie Haslam, David Sancious
8. Goodbye Stranger – Billy Sherwood, Gary Green, Jordan Rudess
9. Rudy – Roye Albrighton, Steve Porcaro
10. Bloody Well Right – Joe Lynn Turner, Dave Kerzner
11. School – Rod Argent, Robby Krieger
The album also includes an original bonus track called “Let The World Revolve” by Chris Squire and Tony Kaye.
March 2, 2012
Photo and Story by Scott Smith
Roger Hodgson is proving that he indeed was the golden voice of Supertramp.
The 61-year-old former Supertramp co-leader smiled countless times throughout his hit-filled, solo set Feb. 28 at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Catoosa, Okla., near Tulsa, bouncing between piano, electric keyboards and possibly the greatest-sounding 12-string acoustic guitar. Billed as part of his “Breakfast in America: The Voice of Supertramp Tour,” the concert offered ample proof that Hodgson still brings his A-game to the stage.
The Supertramp show-stopper “Take the Long Way Home” came first in the set, surprising many people in the near-capacity audience who expected the 1979 classic to be an encore. “So you think you’re a Romeo, playing a part in a picture show, take the long way home,” Hodgson sang with ease, his voice still registering in strong, first-tenor territory.
Backed by a gifted quartet of musicians who smartly chose to play close to — but not exactly like — the sound and style of the Supertramp originals, Hodgson reached for his 12-string acoustic guitar for “School,” the opening track on Supertramp’s “Crime of the Century” LP from 1974. “School” is a track that finds Hodgson at his most serious. Either Hodgson’s narrative is just ranting against the machine (school, society’s expectations), or its the warped vision of stalker — “I can see you in the morning when you go to school, don’t forget your books, you know you’ve got to learn the golden rule,” “Maybe I was wrong, expecting you to fight …..”
Hodgson returned to his gleeful, kind-faced self for the hopeful “Sister Moonshine,” and when he played the stomping-yet-bouncy “Breakfast in America,” Hodgson won some of the evening’s loudest cheers — and the first of several standing ovations.
Also nestled into the nearly infallible set were “The Logical Song,” “Hide in Your Shell,” “Lovers in the Wind,” “In Jeopardy,” “Lady,” “Child of Vision” and “Don’t Leave Me Now.”
The concert didn’t include “It’s Raining Again,” Hodgson’s 1982, metaphorical good-bye to Supertramp, but a home-run take of “Lord Is it Mine” and splendid readings of “Fool’s Overture” and “Even in the Quietest Moments” more than covered for that omission.
Following the peppy “Dreamer,” Hodgson strapped on his 12-string acoustic guitar for the encore, a faithful reading of his 1977 Supertramp classic, “Give a Little Bit.” The moment Hodgson struck the opening, chiming chords of the song, almost every audience member smiled and stood.
Hodgson’s feel-good vibe jumped even higher as he invited two fans onto the stage. The male fan held a microphone and described the other fan, his girlfriend, before bending one knee and proposing marriage. When the woman offered an enthusiastic “yes,” Hodgson then hugged the couple and wished them decades of happiness.
Backstage, Hodgson was equally friendly and laid-back with VIP ticket-holders, posing for photographs and autographing a few CD and vinyl LP covers. Clayton McGill, a fan who drove from Van Buren, Ark. to attend the concert, told Hodgson that his father once worked for a Radio Shack store.
“Yeah, when I was a kid, my father sold more radios and stereo equipment in that store by playing Supertramp music than any other band,” McGill said as Hodgson smiled. “My father passed away about a year ago.”
Hodgson then placed his left hand on McGill’s shoulder before speaking.
“Well, maybe your father is looking down right now, and, hopefully, he likes what he’s seen and heard tonight.”
September 7, 2010
Even though it was not exactly an unexpected development, the start of the Supertramp 70-10 Tour confirms that co-founder Rick Davies has gone ahead with plans to perform songs that were written by Roger Hodgson. As the group worked through their set list at Gerry Weber Stadium in Halle/Westfalen, Germany Thursday night, Hodgson’s material was indeed part of the show.
Hodgson hits such as “Breakfast In America,” “Dreamer,” “Give A Little Bit,” “It’s Raining Again,” “Take The Long Way Home” and “The Logical Song” were performed during this first show of the tour that will take the group to more than thirty venues on the European continent.
As the promotional video for Supertramp’s tour suggests, Davies seems quite comfortable breaking the gentleman’s agreement that he and Hodgson allegedly made when they parted ways in the early 1980’s. According to Hodgson, he and Davies agreed that Davies would continue to use the Supertramp name, but refrain from performing any material that was written by Hodgson.
Roger Hodgson admits that the agreement was simply a verbal one, and for that reason, it seems unlikely that there will be any legal fallout resulting from the use of Hodgson’s music as part of the current Supertramp tour. Hodgson says he did not have a good attorney when he left Supertramp – a bit of an understatement, since it seems almost unimaginable that any attorney would not encourage a client to put such an important agreement in writing.
Although Davies & Company decided to use the name “Supertramp 70-10 Tour” instead of “Supertramp 40th Anniversary Tour,” “70-10” is a reference to the year 1970 when Davies and Hodgson formed the iconic group, and the current year, 2010, marking 40 years since Supertramp was born.
Perhaps the selection of that name was an effort on Davies’ part to appear a bit less “in-your-face” about embarking on a 40th Anniversary tour without the only other member of the group who was actually there in 1970.
It seems unlikely that selection of a less provocative name for the tour appeased Hodgson, whose management aired their feelings on the issue by saying “We’ve been told that they are billing the tour as the 40th Anniversary tour of the band and we just find this very surprising, misleading and disrespectful of Roger since he is the only other member that was a part of Supertramp when he and Rick founded the band together 40 years ago. (Dougie joined the band in 1972 and John and Bob a year later in 1973 and have not actually been with Supertramp for 40 years).”
As much as fans (including myself) would like to see Davies and Hodgson bury the hatchet and work together again on the amazing music they created, it’s much easier to be a pessimist at this point. With Davies closing in on 70 years of age, it would be quite reasonable for him to retire from performing live and put an end to any future possibility of seeing the founders of Supertramp on the same stage together again.
May 12, 2010
It could have been the kind of reunion that fans like myself have been dreaming about. An event that would have coaxed me out of my lair to experience live. I’ve talked about my experience at a Supertramp show before, so I won’t rehash it all again except to say it was the best concert I have ever attended.
Although the guys we once knew collectively as Supertramp have aged, and may not be able to hit all the notes they once did, or play with quite the same level of energy that’s enabled by youth, I still think they could have put on one hell of a show. Unfortunately, it seems as if the bad blood between co-founders Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson will not allow that to happen.
Although Supertramp is indeed set to tour in the coming months, and I’m willing to believe that they may put on a fine show, it’s won’t be Supertramp at its best, and by that, I mean it will not include Roger Hodgson.
Hodgson has made his feelings known following the announcement that his former band mate Rick Davies is taking Supertramp on the road. This, apparently, is fine with Hodgson. Davies owns the right to use the name Supertramp, but Hodgson, who is still touring and performing Supertramp material that he has written, says that Davies will be violating a sort of “gentlemen’s agreement” if any of his songs are performed by Supertramp.
Initially we did not hear much from the Davies camp. A few days ago he broke his silence with a rather brief statement on the official Supertramp website. Davies claims that he and Hodgson negotiated for 15 months regarding a reunion but were unable to reach an agreement.
The statement goes on to clarify some details of the Supertramp tour, specifically that Hodgson will not be included and that they “wish Roger well.” The statement also adds that they “sincerely hope this puts an end to the confusion that has been circulating on the internet and in the press.”
I have a feeling that’s not going to happen.
Hodgson has fired back with a statement on his own website that denies that he had been talking to Davies about a reunion. He also publicly details the terms of the agreement he says he made with Davies when he left the band. Hodgson’s site also includes a listing of Supertramp songs and whether the song was written by Hodgson or Davies.
This may be Hodgson’s way of throwing down the gauntlet and reaffirming that he does not want Davies & Co. performing his material. Furthermore, the statement indicates that the agreement that was made between Hodgson and Davies was more than a simple “gentlemen’s agreement,” and that “The publishing company & the contract legally recognize which songs each songwriter actually wrote and Roger was given legal copyright and approval rights for his songs and Rick for his.”
The list of songs on Hodgson’s site is not simply a list however. According to the statement, it is actually “Exhibit A of the contract,” which is further explained as, "a schedule of the titles… showing the actual writer(s) of each composition giving Roger the approval rights of his songs and Rick the rights for his.”
Although Hodgson says that Davies has performed his material in the past and chose to remain silent about it (excluding communication with Davies), it appears he is no longer willing to look the other way. It appears Hodgson and his camp may be ratcheting this up a notch and is hinting at legal action if Davies defines the agreement.
These developments suggest that a full Supertramp reunion will never happen. If comments from fans here are any indication, Davies may be seen as the bad guy in this continuing saga. Hodgson seems to be viewed by many fans as a peacemaker and genuinely nice fellow, who reached out to Davies and offered to appear with Supertramp when his schedule would permit. Hodgson’s camp says that offer was rebuffed.
Looking at the list of songs each of these two songwriters has penned, it would appear that Davies has a wealth of superb content to use as he tours with Supertramp. In fact, Davies’ side of the list includes some of my personal Supertramp favorites like “Bloody Well Right” and “Another Man’s Woman.”
It was interesting to note that the number of songs both Hodgson and Davies wrote are about equal, but also sad to see that fan wishes for a genuine Supertramp reunion have come to this. When you see excerpts from “Exhibit A” being presented, it certainly does not bode well for a Hodgson-Davies reconciliation.
April 28, 2010
Roger Hodgson seems like a nice enough fellow. Obviously, without knowing the man personally, that’s speculation based on what I have read about him. Even guys as nice and easy going as Hodgson seems to be can be pushed too far, and he may quickly be reaching that point.
If recent news regarding plans by Supertramp co-founder Rick Davies is accurate, he’s planning to hit the road for the “40th Anniversary Tour” and bring Hodgson’s songs along for the ride – without as much as an invitation for Hodgson to join the group for even a few shows. That sounds like the kind of thing that could get under the skin of just about anyone, despite how easy going they may be.
Hodgson extended an olive branch to Davies and offered to perform with his former band mates as his schedule would permit. An offer that was rather harshly rebuffed by Davies & Co.
Even so, Hodgson says the idea of Davies touring as Supertramp and performing his own material would make him “incredibly happy.” What does not make him happy is the idea of Davies using material he wrote. It’s been widely reported that Hodgson and Davies both bought into a gentleman’s agreement when the went their separate ways in 1983, with Hodgson agreeing to allow Davies to continue using the name Supertramp, but Davies would not continue to perform songs that were written by Hodgson. There may, in fact, be more to it than that, and it appears that Davies came away from the breakup with the legal rights to the Supertramp name, indicating that he took the necessary legal steps to ensure his future use of the group’s name.
Hodgson, on the other hand, appears to have fallen victim to his own willingness to trust someone he considered a friend. By his own admission, he admits that he did not have a good attorney, and the agreement which forbade Davies from performing his music was not in writing.
“It was a handshake where we looked each other in the eye. I had been with Rick for 14 years. I thought that I could trust him. The first tour he did, the ‘Brother Where You Bound’ tour, he didn’t play my songs. He honoured the agreement. Then 5 or 7 years later that is when he started to, for whatever reason, play my songs. I felt very betrayed. That is part of the reason Dougie Thompson left the band. He felt it was really wrong,” Hodgson said.
It’s not clear whether Hodgson could or would take legal action to stop Davies from using his material. In California, where Hodgson now lives, the law states that a verbal agreement is equal to a written one. Even so, Hodgson seems reluctant to take the matter to the courts, but says he will no longer remain silent on the issue.
Hodgson’s material does make up a very sizable share of Supertramp’s greatest hits. Classics such as “Take The Long Way Home,” “Give A Little Bit,” “Breakfast In America” and “Dreamer” were all penned by Hodgson, and apparently are too popular for Davies to leave by the wayside.
What makes no sense to Roger Hodgson is the fact that Davies is a fine songwriter in his own right, and could take to the road with his own material and probably make a success of it. Davies wrote classics such as “Goodbye Stranger”, “From Now On”, “Bloody Well Right” and “Ain’t Nobody But Me.”
Bringing these facts to light has prompted me to reconsider something I said a few years ago. Like most fans, I don’t think the full glory of Supertramp can ever be realized without the inclusion of Roger Hodgson. At the same time, I’m in agreement with Hodgson regarding the songwriting ability of Rick Davies. I have all of the post-Hodgson studio albums, and I enjoy them a great deal.
That only makes Hodgson’s point seem more sensible. There are at least four albums Davies could draw from to compile a good set list for the upcoming tour. Would fans miss the old Hodgson classics? Perhaps, but I think it’s more important for a guy to honor his commitment to a friend. It’s a commitment he has apparently not honored in the past, but perhaps it’s not too late to make amends by making the right decision now.
For all the recent comments by Roger Hodgson, head on over to Undercover.