Supertramp’s third album, as well as their mainstream breakthrough, Crime of the Century is a loose song-cycle centered around the inner struggles of a depressed man.
The album was borne out of the frustrations of dual frontmen Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies. From 1969-1972, they had helmed an earlier incarnation of Supertramp which released two critically beloved but commercially unsuccessful albums. When the rest of the band quit, Hodgson and Davies found themselves back at square one, with little funds or direction, and on a deeper level, they felt existentially lost, being in their mid-20s without much of a career. With the support of their record label A&M, they spent a year recruiting new members, after which they made an all-in attempt at success.
Crime of the Century follows the young adulthood of a man named Rudy as he wanders through life aimless and disillusioned as a result of a deep depression. The start of the album describes how England’s draconian school system chewed him up and spit him out as a child, which caused him to retreat into his own mind. He struggles with a dual yearning and fear for human connection, eventually causing him to question his own sanity. We see his hopes and dreams, and how each is squandered one by one by both his own internal fears and the cold, uncaring world around him. He wanders through an economically and socially depressed London (a setting also explored around the same time by fellow prog-rockers Genesis on their album Selling England By The Pound). Eventually, he reaches a breaking point, as the album ends with a cryptic, violent cry for help.
Crime of the Century proved to be a critical and commercial success, and began a creative streak which would make Supertramp one of the most successful progressive rock acts of the late 1970s, as well as one of the few to cross over into the mainstream pop audience.
Track Listing: A1 School A2 Bloody Well Right A3 Hide In Your Shell A4 Asylum B1 Dreamer B2 Rudy B3 If Everyone Was Listening B4 Crime Of The Century