Crime of the Century: Rolling Stones #27 of 50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time

Crime of the Century
Studio album: Supertramp
Released: September 13, 1974
Recorded: February–June 1974
Genre: Art rock, progressive rock
Producer: Ken Scott, Supertramp 

Crime of the Century is the third studio album by the English rock band Supertramp. It's the group's commercial breakthrough in the UK, Canada and Germany where it peaked in the Top Five.  It made the Top 20 in Australia and France and was the first U.S. Top 40 album. 

In 1978, Crime of the Century was ranked 108th of the 200 greatest albums of all time in The World Critic Lists, as voted for by notable rock critics and DJs. A 1998 public poll of more than 200,000 music fans placed Crime of the Century among the all-time top 1000 albums, and it was among "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die" in the 2005 book on the subject. The LP ranks number 27 on Rolling Stone's "50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time."


Rick Davies formed Supertramp in London when he broke up his band, The Joint. and placed an ad looking for musicians. A Dutch millionaire, Sam Miesegaes, financed the group. They signed with  A&M Records, released their self-titled debut album, and played at the Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970. It didn't get them off the ground.

After a disappointing second album, Miesegaes pulled his financing in 1972. The group split up. Two former members, Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson recruited new musicians and took this line-up to an old farm to prepare their next album. Davies and Hodson recorded some 42 demo songs and culled them down to eight songs for "Crime of the Century." 

All the songs were credited to both writers, but some were written individually. The title track, "Crime of the Century," and "School" were Hodgson/Davies collaborations. "If Everyone Was Listening," "Hide in Your Shell," and "Dreamer" was written by Hodgson.  "Asylum," "Rudy" and "Bloody Well Right" were written by Davies. 

Hide in Your Shell
I was 23 when I wrote that song, confused about life and, 
like a lot of people are at that age, trying to hide my insecurities. 
Roger Hodgson on "Hide  in Your Shell"

"Hide in Your Shell" is about someone relentlessly concealing his pain. It does nothing to ease his suffering, keep others from getting close to him, and isolate him further. In the sleeve notes, Hodgson wrote:

"I was 23 when I wrote that song, confused about life and, like a lot of people are at that age, trying to hide my insecurities. I’ve always been able to express my innermost feelings more openly in song, and "Hide in Your Shell" came to me at a time when I was feeling very lonely.


"Dreamer" is about a guy with big dreams who doesn't act on them. Roger Hodgson came up with this song at his mother's house, where he recorded the demo using boxes and various household items for percussion. He said: "We had just bought our first Wurlitzer piano, and it was the first time I'd been alone with a Wurlitzer piano back down in my mother's house. I set it up, and I was so excited that that song just flew out of me."


It wasn't until about five years later that he recorded the song with Supertramp, using that demo as a guide. To duplicate the sound, they banged cardboard boxes and anything that clanged. Though there are some drums in the final mix, there are also some boxes somewhere in there.

Bloody Well Right
So you think your schooling is phony?
I guess it's hard not to agree.
You say, "It all depends on money
And who is in your family tree." 
Davies sings lead on this one. It was Supertramp's first hit in the US but failed to chart in the UK. One theory about the song's poor showing there holds that Brits were offended by the adjective "bloody" in 1975. Today, it's considered a mild expletive -  at best - all around the world.

This song deals with youthful confusion, class warfare, and forced conformity in the British school system. It's the same theme as Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." In fact, 
"Bloody Well Right" is an answer song to the previous track on the album, "School." 

Crime of the Century is a concept album. The story is about Rudy. In "School," he lamented that the education system in England is teaching conformity above education. In "Bloody Well Right," he joins a gang believing them to be organized resistance. But they're actually apathetic punks who mock him for his higher aspirations. 


Popular posts from this blog

The Goldcoast Singers: Plastic Jesus (1962)

Rebel Rebel: David Bowie (1974)

Elton John: Two of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll