Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

...Famous Last Words...

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Released  October 1982
Label  A&M
Length  47:35
Recorded  November 1981 to summer 1982
Studio  Unicorn, Nevada City, California The Backyard, Encino, Los Angeles Rumbo Recorders, Canoga Park, Los Angeles Bill Schnee's Studios, North Hollywood, Los Angeles
Genre  Progressive rock, art rock, pop rock

…Famous Last Words… is the seventh album by the English rock band Supertramp and was released in October 1982. It was the studio follow-up to 1979's Breakfast in America and the last album with vocalist/keyboardist/guitarist Roger Hodgson, who left the group to pursue a solo career. Thus, it was the final album to be released by the classic lineup of the band (Hodgson/Davies/Helliwell/Thomson/Siebenberg).

Contents

The album reached number 5 on the Billboard Pop Albums Charts in 1982 and was certified Gold for sales in excess of 500,000 copies there. It also peaked at number 6 in the UK where it was certified Gold for 100,000 copies sold.

A remastered CD version of …Famous Last Words… was released on 30 July 2002 on A&M Records. The remastered CD comes with all of the original artwork and the CD art features a green pair of scissors and a black background.

Background and recording

Though Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson had long been writing their songs separately, they had always conceived the theme and overlying direction for each album together. …Famous Last Words… became the exception to this rule: having been living in different parts of California in the months leading up to the recording, they each conceived their own vision for the album. Hodgson wanted to do another pop album in the vein of Breakfast in America, while Davies had envisioned a heavy progressive rock album with a 10-minute song called "Brother Where You Bound" as its centerpiece. According to Bob Siebenberg, "In the end, they both kind of changed their formats and their picture of what they thought this album should be. It became a diluted version of what it started out to be. It was really neither here nor there." In particular, the band decided to leave out "Brother Where You Bound", since it was too "heavy" to fit alongside Hodgson's pop compositions. Supertramp used "Brother Where You Bound" for their next album, Brother Where You Bound (1985), though it had by that point evolved from 10 minutes to 16 and a half through the addition of some new sections.

As usual, the songs are all officially credited as being written by Davies/Hodgson. However, the sleeve notes color-code the songs' lyrics by individual author. The lead vocalist on each song is the same as its writer: "Crazy", "It's Raining Again", "Know Who You Are", "C'est le bon", and "Don't Leave Me Now" were written by Hodgson, and "Put on Your Old Brown Shoes", "Bonnie", "My Kind of Lady", and "Waiting So Long" were written by Davies.

The album was mainly recorded and mixed at Hodgson's home, Unicorn Studios in Nevada City, California, as he did not want to leave his wife, his then two-year-old daughter Heidi, and newborn son Andrew behind. Davies wound up recording his vocal and keyboard parts at his home studio, The Backyard Studios, in Encino, California. Other overdubs were at Bill Schnee Recording Studios in Los Angeles.

Hodgson later said that he regrets recording the album, calling it "a last-ditch attempt to try and make things happen" after the life had gone out of the band.

At the time of the album's release, many interpreted the title and cover art as thinly-veiled hints that Supertramp were breaking up. In fact, there was no threat of a break-up at this point in the band's history. To help dispel the rumour, John Helliwell explained the actual meaning of the title: "We wanted a phrase that bore some relationship with what we were doing but was enigmatic at the same time. We always like to have enigmatic titles like Crime of the Century... This last LP we thought was going to be real quick. We thought we were going to rehearse it and record it real quick and it ended up taking longer than any other so we had to eat our words again. For the past three or four LPs we've been saying, 'Let's be well prepared.' So the title sprung out of that as well. I can't remember who first thought of it. The graphic design came directly from the title."

Reception

AllMusic found the album overly tailored towards commercial success, claiming that the group in general and Roger Hodgson in particular were too fixated on producing more hits, and that as a result "romantically inclined poetry and love song fluff replaces the lyrical keenness that Supertramp had produced in the past, and the instrumental proficiency that they once mastered has vanished."

Track listing

All songs credited to Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson. Listed below are the respective writers.

Side one
Side two

Personnel

  • Rick Davies – keyboards, lead and backing vocals, melodica solo on "It's Raining Again", harmonica
  • Roger Hodgson – guitars, keyboards, lead and backing vocals
  • John Helliwell – saxophones, keyboards
  • Dougie Thomson – bass
  • Bob Siebenberg – drums
  • Additional personnel

  • Claire Diament – backing vocals on "Don't Leave Me Now"
  • Ann Wilson – backing vocals on "Put On Your Old Brown Shoes" and "C'est le bon"
  • Nancy Wilson – backing vocals on "Put On Your Old Brown Shoes" and "C'est le bon"
  • Production

  • Producers: Peter Henderson, Russel Pope, Supertramp
  • Engineer: Peter Henderson
  • Assistant engineer: Norman Hall
  • Mastering on original issue: Doug Sax, Mike Reese
  • Mastering on 2002 remaster: Greg Calbi, Jay Messina
  • Concert sound: Russel Pope
  • Technician: Bud Wyatt
  • String arrangements: Richard Hewson
  • Art direction: Mike Doud, Norman Moore
  • Design: Mike Doud, Norman Moore
  • Cover design: Mike Dowd, Norman Moore
  • Cover art concept: Mike Dowd
  • Artwork: Mike Dowd
  • Photography: Jules Bates, Tom Gibson
  • Cover photo: Jules Bates, Tom Gibson
  • Sleeve photo: Tom Gibson
  • 2002 A&M reissue:
    The 2002 A&M Records reissue was mastered from the original master tapes by Greg Calbi and Jay Messina at Sterling Sound, New York, 2002. The reissue was supervised by Bill Levenson with art direction by Vartan and design by Mike Diehl, with production coordination by Beth Stempel.

    The intro to "Bonnie" contains a glitch in the piano part on the 2002 remaster, and has never been fully explained (whether it was a mastering error, or an intentional alteration to the track).

    Singles

    Singles – Billboard (North America)

    References

    ...Famous Last Words... Wikipedia


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