Famous Last Words


A&M A&M 393 732-2, 1982
Crazy (4:32) ***
Put on Your Old Brown Shoes (4:20) ***
It's Raining Again (4:25) **
Bonnie (5:37) **
Know Who You Are (4:58) ***
My Kind of Lady (5:12) **
C'est le Bon (5:32) ****
Waiting So Long (6:32) **
Don't Leave Me Now (6:25) ****

Rick Davies - vocals, keyboards
Roger Hodgson - vocals, keyboards, guitars
John Helliwell - saxophones, keyboards
Dougie Thomson - bass
Bob Siebenberg - drums
Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson - backing vocals ("Put on Your Old Brown Shoes", "C'est le Bon")
Claire Diament - backing vocals ("Don't Leave Me Now")

All written by Davies and Hodgson
String arrangement on "Know Who You Are" by Richard Hewson

Produced by Supertramp and Peter Henderson

This review was written from a prog rock perspective...

Supertramp are a band with vague prog connections: King Crimson's second lyricist, Palmer-James, was on the first Supertramp album, while Hodgson went on to work with Trevor Rabin (the only release so far of their collaborations being "Walls" on Yes's Talk). Musically, the earliest Supertramp albums do have some prog stylings, but by Famous Last Words, we have a straightforward pop album.

I enjoy early Supertramp, but have little positive to say about Famous Last Words. The album isn't unpleasant (except maybe the crass and cliched "My Kind of Lady"), but there's little above the average. I'd only be confident in describing "Don't Leave Me Now" as good. "Don't Leave Me Now" is one of the simpler songs on the album—with another cliched lyric—yet somehow it seems to fill its 6:25 very satisfactorily through sheer bombasticism.

While the album is standard, vaguely bluesy, pop, there are some nice instrumental choices. Davies and Hodgson craft the songs well enough—if the saxophone is overused to my liking—but the basic compositions lack the flair of, say, Breakfast in America. Supertramp's usual melancholic but still somewhat uplifting sound is there (typical is "Crazy", with the opening line 'Here's a crazy little song to make you feel good' which then paints a black picture of the world), but there's nothing rivalling "The Logical Song"."C'est le Bon"—almost a sequel to "The Logical Song" in lyric and music—for example, only fleetingly catches the attention.

The album credits everything to Davies and Hodgson, but it sounds (as with some previous Supertramp) that the songs are largely by one or the other. Hodgson was soon to leave the band to go solo: perhaps Famous Last Words failed to raise his interest too.

Henry Potts, revised 16 Jan 98; re-revised 31 Aug 05

Since the review was written, Rabin has also appeared on one track of Hodgson's 2000 solo album Open the Door.

Originally posted to rec.music.progressive.

Return to Main Page.