Breakfast in America – Supertramp

Released March 29, 1979 spawned four singles two of which landed in the top ten. Despite middling reviews, this album won two Grammy awards, was #1 on the Pop Billboard Chart for six weeks, and sold 4 million copies in the U.S. (4x Platinum) and over 9 million world wide.

Jason: I knew more songs from this album than I had anticipated. 

Brad: Yeah, I didn’t realize that pretty much all of the Supertramp songs I know are all on this album. Do you enjoy them?

Jason: They are fine. I enjoyed it somewhat. What category of music would you put them in? They are sort of like ELO, sort of Pink Floyd-adjacent. I guess they are prog-rock.

Brad: I would put them in the category of “Bands That Brad Tries to Avoid“. The sound of Supertramp is not pleasing to my ears at all. 

Jason: I know you hate “The Logical Song”. What don’t you like about them?

Brad: It is not one thing. It is a combination of things. They have two lead singers. The one singer, Rodger Hodgson, has one of the worst voices I’ve ever heard. So whiny and irritating. The other singer, Rick Davies, has a really bland voice. That combined with electric piano, harmonica and saxophone just creates a perfect storm of unpleasant for me. 

Jason: Interesting. Hodgson sounds like a Bee Gee to me and you like them. I do agree that Davies’ voice is fine. Nothing remarkable. I like “Goodbye Stranger”, “Logical Song”, “Child of Vision” and “Take The Long Way Home”. I will say that their lyrics can be kind of silly. They aren’t a band with a lot of depth. It’s like a group of musicians that heard Queen, ELO, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and a few other popular Progressive Rock bands and thought “I can do that.” Then did a serviceable job at it.

Brad: I mostly have a problem with the execution of the songs. The songwriting itself is decent. I probably wouldn’t mind it so much if someone else covered this album. The sound of this seems so dated to me and not in a good way at all. 

Jason: Here is one thing I noticed on this album, each song sounds like it comes from another artist. One sounds like Billy Joel, another like Elton, a third like America, then a Paul McCartney etc. Like if Supertramp got all of those bands rejected songs and recorded them. I sound like I am hating on them but I’m not. I don’t mind this album I just don’t think it’s very remarkable. I found it very easy to listen to but also just tune out.

Brad: Interesting. I found it difficult to make it through our usual 5 times listening. I think I only made it to 4 or 4.5 times. By the way, do you remember about 10 years or so ago when Gym Class Heroes featuring Patrick Stump (from Fall Out Boy) had a pretty big hit with the song “Cupid’s Chokehold”? Patrick Stump sings the chorus from “Breakfast in America” on that song. Other than that, I rarely if ever hear Supertramp. They have somewhat disappeared. 

Jason: Occasionally a song of theirs will pop up in a movie trailer. The Gym Class Hero sample lyric was “Take a look at my girlfriend, she’s the only one I got. Not much of a girlfriend, never seem to get a lot.” It’s such a weird, dumb, kind of mean lyric. Also Gym Class Heroes thankfully went away as well.

Brad: Yeah, that lyric is bad. I usually don’t like to be this negative but ever since I was a kid, I’ve hated the “Breakfast in America” album cover. I don’t know why but I hate it so much. Well, I just discovered that this album cover won a Grammy Award for package design. I’m so annoyed by that!

Jason: It’s all food items as NYC.

The background featured the city of Manhattan made from a cornflake box, ashtray, cutlery (for the wharfs), egg boxes, vinegar, ketchup and mustard bottles, all spray painted white. The twin World Trade Center towers appear as two stacks of boxes and the plate of breakfast represents Battery Park. – Source Wikipedia

Brad: It is almost how I felt when Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out” won a Grammy over Moby’s album “Play”

Jason: They did? That’s just stupid. Speaking of the cover of this album. It never occurred to me that the waitress is supposed to be the Statue of Liberty. I don’t know why that escaped me.

Brad: Yeah, I used to think she was on the wing of the plane. 

Jason: So if you had to pick ONE song from here that you set as your alarm every morning, what would it be?

Brad: This is tough but I guess I would pick “Goodbye Stranger” and then make sure to wake up before my alarm went off.

Jason: Ha! I would pick Child of Vision then just relax in bed for an extra seven and a half minutes.

Brad: I can totally picture you doing that.

Jason: I’m going to do it tomorrow. Get ready. Suffice it to say you aren’t going to be listening to their entire collection or even a Greatest Hits. What letter grade would you give this album?

Brad: I would give it a D+. I understand why people like it but it is just not for me. In fact, I just deleted it from my Apple Music library. 

Jason: Harsh but not unexpected. I am going with a B- because there are enough songs on here that I would listen to again. In fact I will make a playlist for our 6 hour drive to Michigan next week.

Brad: Nope! I’ll make you get out and walk.

Jason: Yikes, that really is the long way home.

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Below is the scratch-off artwork from the 100 Bucket List poster.