MY FATHER is moved and soothed by classic rock. A generally innocuous butt-rock punt like Styx's "Lady" can elicit an anecdote of near biblical proportions from his reservoirs of sentimentality. The radio dial in his truck appears firmly stuck on 92.3 FM.
The other day, Supertramp's "School," from their 1974 album Crime of the Century, sent him reminiscing in such a way: He told me about the time he and his friends, Gil and David, were on a balcony listening to Supertramp's live record Paris with the sun beating down on them on a late spring afternoon. He said it felt as if the music itself was heralding summer (a doobie or two must have been present). "What a great summer," he recalled, and he proceeded to tell me all about it.
I more or less checked out.
"School"—which was co-written by Roger Hodgson—actually is an exceptional song, though. As a matter of fact, despite being a frequent target of anti-album-oriented-rock derision and relegated to record-store 50-cent bins, Supertramp have at least three classic LPs that rank among some of the best pop recordings this side of Paul McCartney's early '70s output. I'd even go as far to say that "The Logical Song" is timeless. The problem is that even Supertramp's best cuts are marred by the tawdry glossiness and gratuitous instrumentation that characterize rock production of that period. So it's easy to see why people associate the 'Tramp with abominable groups like Kansas—but it's a rookie mistake. These pop gems are ripe for rediscovery; the lyrics—especially those penned by Hodgson rather than his songwriting partner, Rick Davies—are often pensive and evocative. (You could even say that "School" and the "The Logical Song" are a little bit punk rock!)
Recent live footage of Hodgson reveal he's among the fortunate handful of aging artists whose voice has hardly withered a glint—and the guy looks pretty damn good, too. His (bizarrely mystical) press release for this tour ensures performances of all his "hits with Supertramp," in addition to material off of his three solo records.
I'm prepared to be the youngest person there who knows all the words to "Dreamer," and I'm totally okay with that.