One Track Mind: Roger Hodgson, "My Magazine" (1987)

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Like Paul or Ringo, Roger Hodgson will forever be associated with his former band no matter much good music he’s made since he left the group. Granted, Hodgson never quite generated any more note-perfect pop standards such as “Give A Little Bit” or “The Logical Song” from his Supertramp days, but that’s not to say he’s lost his touch. Rather, it’s the world lost touch with Hodgson.

OK, not the whole world. When Hodgson left Supertramp in 1983, much of Supertramp’s audience followed him, and if it’s dwindled some in the last 25 years, his continued touring success goes to show that it’s still sizable.

But what of his solo work? While it’s comprised of only three studio albums, the general consensus is that his solo debut In the Eye of the Storm (1984) is his strongest post-Tramp effort and the follow-up Hai Hai (1987) is a little uneven. Having gotten Hai Hai on vinyl when it first came out, I agreed with that sentiment then and still do, now. But like all uneven albums, there’s some standout tracks, and for me, one of those is “My Magazine.”

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Roger Hodgson talks about his long-awaited return to U.S. concert venues, writing with the Wurlitzer and how he willed himself back from a catastrophic injury.]

My affinity for “Magazine” doesn’t come from the lyrics. Hodgson, who usually writes good lyrics and occasionally great, witty ones, mailed it in on this song. It’s pretty pedestrian fare about having a National Enquirer-type rag or magazine:

Tell me what you like,
I’ll print it all
You need laughs,
‘Cause you don’t need misery

Just tell me what you need,
I’ll tell it all
Screw the facts,
I can give you fantasy

My magazine
I’m talking about my magazine…

That’s no “Even In The Quietest Moments.” What it does have going for it is an in-your-face hard-rockin’ approach. Coming from someone who’s built a reputation for cheery, richly melodic pop, it’s kind of a surprise, but a surprise of the good kind. You see, Geddy Lee pulls it off as a perfect vocalist for the prog-metal band Rush because he can soar above the loud crunch of the instrumentation underneath with those high-pitched pipes. Hodgson’s voice has those same attributes.

Built upon aggresive, minor chord guitar riffs, Hodgson’s booming vocal easily glides right over it, and you can even sense the sneering in it. When he gets to the chorus, he’s yelling, screaming and moaning along to his guitar. He never gets out of control, but he brings piles of attitude. It’s a little like Pink Floyd’s “Young Lust,” but with Robert Plant singing it. Unlike much of the rest of the album, the synthesizers stay way back in the mix, so it still sounds fresh and powerful today.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Every one remembers Supertramp’s hit-making era in the late 1970s. There were other times, however, when we wanted to tell them: “goodbye, stranger.”]

This song was never released as a single but it got some airplay on album rock radio stations at the time. Any chance to effectively promote this and the other songs on Hai Hai were unfortunately cut short when Hodgson broke both of his wrists in an accident within days of the album’s release. It would be thirteen years before we saw another studio release by him again; Hai Hai made a quick trip to the cutout bins.

As much as I enjoy “My Magazine,” even I know that Hodgson’s real strengths lie in crafting and performing catchy and widely enjoyable pop tunes. But like Macca with “Helter Skelter” or “Nothing Too Much Just Out Of Sight,” those dark-side diversions are often more interesting.

Sample: Roger Hodgson “My Magazine”

“One Track Mind” is a more-or-less weekly drool over a single song selected on a whim and a short thesis on why you should be drooling over it, too.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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