Supertramp – Breakfast In America (1979) – Lp
Supertramp (known as Daddy in 1969–70) are an English rock band formed in London in 1969. Though their music was initially categorised as progressive rock, they later incorporated a combination of traditional rock, pop and art rock into their music. The band’s work is marked by the songwriting of founders Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson and the prominent use of Wurlitzer electric piano and saxophone.
Title: Breakfast In America
Label: A&M Records
Catalog# AMLK 64747
As with Even in the Quietest Moments…, Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson wrote most of their songs separately but conceived the theme for the album jointly. Their original concept was for an album of songs about the relationship and conflicting ideals between Davies and Hodgson themselves, to be titled Hello Stranger. Hodgson explained: “We realized that a few of the songs really lent themselves to two people talking to each other and at each other. I could be putting down his way of thinking and he could be challenging my way of seeing life […] Our ways of life are so different, but I love him. That contrast is what makes the world go ’round and what makes Supertramp go ’round. His beliefs are a challenge to mine and my beliefs are a challenge to his.”
This idea was eventually scrapped in favour of an album of “fun” songs, and though Davies initially wanted to keep the title Hello Stranger, he was convinced by Hodgson to change it to Breakfast in America. Hodgson commented later: “We chose the title because it was a fun title. It suited the fun feeling of the album.” Due to the title and the explicit satirising of American culture in the cover and three of the songs (“Gone Hollywood”, “Breakfast in America“, and “Child of Vision”), many listeners interpreted the album as a satire of the United States. Supertramp’s members have all insisted that the repeated references to US culture are purely coincidental and that no such thematic satire was intended. Hodgson has described the misconception as a parallel to how Crime of the Century (1974) is often misinterpreted as being a concept album.
“Gone Hollywood” is the opening track of Breakfast in America. Written by Rick Davies, the song tells about a person who moves to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming a movie star, but finds it far more difficult than he imagined—struggling and frustrated, until he ultimately gets his break and becomes “the talk of the Boulevard.” The lyrics were originally more bleak, but under pressure from the other band members, Davies rewrote them to be more optimistic and commercial.
“Child of Vision” is the closing track. Much like “The Logical Song“, it uses a Wurlitzer electric piano as the main instrument. After the lyrical part, the song goes into a long grand piano solo alongside the original Wurlitzer electric piano melody. The track fades out with a short saxophone solo by John Helliwell. Roger Hodgson has said that the song was written to be an equivalent to “Gone Hollywood”, looking at how Americans live, though he confessed that he had only a limited familiarity with US culture at the time of writing. He also said there is a slight possibility that he subconsciously had Rick Davies in mind while writing the lyrics.
Since all of Supertramp’s songs are contractually credited to both Davies and Hodgson, it is difficult to determine who actually wrote each song. Roger Hodgson’s management has described “The Logical Song“, “Breakfast in America“, “Take the Long Way Home“, “Lord Is It Mine” and “Child of Vision” as ‘Roger’s songs’; however, this apparently does not mean he necessarily wrote them by himself, as Hodgson has credited Davies with writing the vocal harmony on “The Logical Song“. Davies has referred to “The five songs that I did on Breakfast”, but does not specify which ones.
1. Gone Hollywood (5:14)
2. The Logical Song (4:08)
3. Goodbye Stranger (5:47)
4. Breakfast In America (2:37)
5. Oh Darling (4:01)
1. Take The Long Way Home (5:02)
2. Lord Is It Mine (4:04)
3. Just Another Nervous Wreck (4:22)
4. Casual Conversations (2:58)
5. Child Of Vision (7:23)