Pros:These are SUPERTRAMP SONGS.
Cons:The studio versions are always better.
The Bottom Line: I wouldn't shell out loads of cash for this album, but if you're a Supertramp fan you'll probably enjoy it.
School A- / Ain't Nobody But Me B / The Logical Song A / Bloody Well Right B+ / Breakfast in America A / You Started Laughing B / Hide in Your Shell A / From Now On B / Dreamer B+ / Rudy B+ / A Soapbox Opera B+ / Asylum A- / Take the Long Way Home A- / Fool's Overture B+ / Two Of Us B / Crime of the Century B+
Well, if Supertramp were ever going to release a live album, the year 1980 was probably the best time to do it, which was hot after the success of their mega-selling hit Breakfast of America. The best place to record the album was probably immaterial, but I suppose Paris was just about as good as anywhere. (Although I'm curious how they managed to find enough Parisians willing to attend unless they happened to be opening for Woody Allen or Jerry Lewis.) This is also a good example of a live album that nobody needs. I mean, Supertramp were a mighty decent band, but as far as a live act, they weren't Cream or The Who. They strove to do little more than faithfully execute their studio songs.
Considering how much I praised Supertramp albums for their production--even sometimes more than the actual songwriting--the more stripped-down quality of these songs can be a difficult pill to swallow. Notice how uninspired I was about this version of my favorite Supertramp song of all time, “Hide in Your Shell,” that all I could muster was a plain A. The main reason for my lack of enthusiasm is that I miss that theremin desperately! Regardless, though, that continues to be an excellent song; I still get approximately the same “high” from listening to this version as I did the studio cut. But I just think I'd rather hear the studio version again than listen to this.
And really, I've written pretty much everything about this album than I need to. The fact is, if you're going to buy this album, you're gonna get it whether or not you get advice from me. I can confirm at least that you'll enjoy it. I think. After all, there are a whole lot of Supertramp songs here, and whatever could be finer?
Most of the material they chose for this concert seemed to be out of Crime of the Century era and a few picks each from their subsequent three albums. There's absolutely nothing from either of their 1970 or 1971 albums, which I find disappointing! But I suppose Supertramp were only going to play songs that the vast majority of their audience actually heard before. That is, their French audience. One thing they do get right throughout are the woodwind solos, which they wouldn't dare cut down since they're so much part of their respective songs' souls. Thankfully, that delicious oboe solo is still there for “Breakfast in America,” which is also easily one of Supertramp's catchiest songs, so no surprise that it's one of the highlights. Another obvious highlight is “The Logical Song,” which comes fully equipped with a blistering saxophone solo.
There is one Supertramp song here that I was previously unfamiliar with: “You Started Laughing.” It turns out it was a Crisis? What Crisis? era B-side to the single “Lady.” ...It's not a fantastic song or anything, and it comes across to me as rather lethargic with a melody that doesn't interest me much. However, it's nice to hear it regardless. Another so-so pick was “From Now On” from Even in the Quietest Moments..., and their snooze-worthy rendition of it didn't help matters. Though the reason I call it snooze-worthy is mostly because they apparently didn't tour around with a full gospel choir to help nail that ending like they did in the studio. ...One hit song that's conspicuously absent from this is “Give a Little Bit,” which I guess was actually performed at the show, but Hodgson and Davies didn't like how it came out.
“Dreamer” still has a pretty catchy tune, but they're still murdering me with those rapid-paced keyboards. However, the audience sounds like it's having fun clapping along with it, and I do enjoy listening to Frenchies enjoying themselves. ...By the way there are a few moments (not many) when Hodgson and Davies try to speak to the crowd in French. Though obviously they weren't especially good at it; the ends of some of their sentences inevitably veer into English.
I'll conclude the review by stating that even though I don't think I have much use for this album, I feel nevertheless compelled to give it a fairly decent score. I mean, being an album filled with earnestly performed Supertramp tunes, there weren't a whole lot of ways that it could go wrong. So, here's a wickedly strong 10/15.
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