Supertramp in top form on early live recording
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 08/06/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Recorded at the cusp of their international break through, Is Everybody Listening finds the band lean, mean and hungry. The subsequent live albums Paris (1981), Live (1988) and It Was The Best Of Times (1999) were more polished and musically accomplished but lack the fire demonstrated on Is Everybody Listening. It's not the ideal collection for new fans (Paris is probably the slickest and most representative of the band at their best) but there is an edginess here missing on later albums. Perhaps it's due to the fact that the band was on the cusp of breaking through to a larger audience but, more than likely, it's due to the leap in quality of the Davies/Hodgson compositions. IEL is far from their best sounding recording (in fact it doesn't sound much better than a very good bootleg), but this snapshot of the band prior to international stardom captures them in good form and with a handful of solid, catchy tunes.
Like all the releases from Burning Airlines, IEL is more than a historical document. It presents Supertramp still trying to find their footing as artists. It also presents the band willing to experiment and play with their sound in such a way that each track sounds fresh and different from their studio counterparts. Although I would have liked to see comments from Davies, Hodgson or the other band members on the recording, the brief history of the band and insights in the booklet are interesting. It's curious that Hodgson isn't pictured on the photos taken from roughly the same time frame (only Davies and Helliwell are featured) as it was their unique songwriting partnership that allowed the band sound to gel at this time.
The fact that there was no overdubbing and the band limited song selections to two albums (they performed only songs from Crime of the Century and the unfinished Crisis? What Crisis? Ignoring their first two albums and recent single Land Ho!) makes IEL a niche album for hard-core fans. There's also a handful of instrumental/vocal mistakes which would probably been fixed if this album had originally been intended for commercial release. The mistakes only add to the album's charm and honesty. The visual image used for the last Davies/Hodgson album Famous Last Words showed each band member performing a high wire act without a net. IEL is the band living that moment in time; you get the distinct impression that Supertramp is taking considerable risks but the results are most rewarding.
All of the above criticisms add to the charm of the album. It's about as naked as Supertramp ever got in public. It's fun to see many of these songs reduced to their basic arrangements. Since Crime hadn't been finished at this stage, IEL is almost like sitting on the rehearsal for that album. Whatever these songs may lack in slick production touches, are more than made up for by the feeling that Supertramp is making up the material as they're going along. This is where the band plowed the ground and planted the seeds for their unique progressive pop sound. Although their rein at the top of the charts was short lived, IEL conveys the very qualities that made the band so appealing.
Classic recording of Supertramp from their Crime of the Cent
Blah | Blah, USA | 11/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 2001 and then again in 2006, English prog rockers Supertramp released Is Everybody Listening?
This live album is a great piece of history and in fact, much to the claim on the cover it was from Cleveland, Ohio from 1976, this performance is the legendary gig the band played at London's Hammersmith Odeon in March of 1975 during its Crime of the Century tour which was recorded by the BBC and aired on the radio countless times in the last 30 or so years.
Eight of the twelve tracks consist of the entire Crime of the Century album (starting with School, Bloody Well Right, Hide In Your Shell, Asylum, Dreamer(complete with sax man/keyboard player/show emcee John Helliwell's Alphabet Song intro), Rudy, If Everyone Was Listening and of course ending with Crime Of The Century's title cut).
In a bold move in between the two halves of the Crime album, the band even previewed songs from the then-to-be recorded Crime follow-up Crisis? What Crisis?. Here the band plays Sister Moonshine (with bass player Dougie Thomson's intro), Just a Normal Day, a seven minute plus Another Man's Woman and an extended Lady which of course was shortened when recorded for Crisis. Shame artists don't try out new songs before recording as the fans would record the show and release the show on bootleg.
The line-up for Supertramp on this album is its classic lineup of Roger Hodgson on guitar, keyboards and vocals. Plus Rick Davies on keyboards and vocals. John Helliwell on saxophones, woodwinds, keyboards and vocals. Dougie Thompson on bass guitar and occasional backing vocals and Bob Siebenberg (or C. Benburg as he was known as then) on drums.
This show is a must for all Supertramp fans who want a classic recording of the band's classic lineup although the 1980 double live album Paris (recorded on the Breakfast in America tour) gives this album a run for the money.