Supertramp’s album Breakfast in America (1979) seemed to be about the need to feed the spiritual appetite when there is a decline of spiritual values. Perhaps the album hit a nerve during a darker period of cinema; Breakfast in America was the progressive rock/pop band’s most popular album (selling 20 million copies). It is the one album that stands out for me in the band’s repertoire.
Supertramp started putting out records in the 1970’s, but in 1979, they reached their commercial and artistic peak with Breakfast in America, which seems, to me, to be a satirical album about the spiritual state of America which somehow was lacking.
The album begins with the haunting and strong Gone Hollywood which looks at the emptiness of the Hollywood dream when Tinseltown isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.
The beautiful The Logical Song continues that sort of theme and adds to it the search for a genuine and authentic identity, with Roger Hodgson’s vocals sounding utterly sincere in a sort of disillusioned, searching way.
The powerful Goodbye Stranger, with vocals by Rick Davies at his most piercing, laments what’s lacking in temporal relationships, and the eventual, ultimate pain of those sort of flings, the pain of which one can even feel through the lyrics.
The title track slyly points to the promise of an empty American Dream. “Hope it’s going to come true, but there’s not a lot I can do.”
Oh, Darling, a less powerful yet sublime track, counterpoints the more satirical content before it. It’s a more straightforwardly meaningful number, that may nicely summarize what they’re really thinking.
The stronger Long Way Home gets one in the soul: life turns to custard but smell the coffee and the roses.
A straight-forward, from the heart spiritual number is Lord is it Mine pointing to the need for a spiritual life in a chaotic world, perhaps coming from a Buddhist ‘worldview’. Nevertheless, the song makes a stronger point about the need for solitude and emptying the soul of the ‘clutter’ where no one religion is particularly emphasised.
Just Another Nervous Wreck, while not as strong as some of the other tracks, is nevertheless powerful. A title to die for that says it all.
The album slows down towards the end, with Casual Conversations, which again emphasize the overarching theme, but Child of Vision ends the album up tempo and one that certainly takes you by the ears and the mind.
The theme coheres throughout the album like no other album I have heard, which shows how much importance was placed on the ideas in it, as if a life or death matter. Important, sublime, superbly executed.
4 1/2 out of 5 stars + Worthwhile PICK