Supertramp, “School” from Crime of the Century (1974): One Track Mind

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Supertramp often attempted jazzy prog rock with mixed results, but never nailed it as well as they did on “School,” released in September 1974 as part of Crime of the Century.

“School” is also a rebellion against authority song, put in a clever context of rules foisted on schoolchildren. But the big draw is Supertramp’s performance: Rick Davies’ lonesome harmonica signals that this ain’t gonna be no uptempo song, and Roger Hodgson’s familiar pleading vocal emerges with just his lightly strummed electric guitar.

There’s an ominous air that hangs over the song, with the sound of kids playing after Hodgson sings the refrain — “you’re coming along” — one last time and the rest of Supertramp’s players strategically slam into your headphones the instant after a child scream. The super-tight mid tempo shuffle interlude makes way for another suspended moment until the extended solo is launched.

A piano solo, that is, and the whole band behind it sounds so on the mark that this part wouldn’t been out of place on a quality jazz fusion record of that time. That in turns builds up to the climax where Rick Davies and a chakka-chakka guitar offer a menacing counterpoint to Roger Hodgson.

In the end, it’s Hodgson alone sneering “you’re coming along!,” leaving the listener exhausted in the way you’re exhausted just after being on a damned good amusement park thrill ride.

Fans, and indeed Supertramp themselves, have long considered Crime of the Century an artistic high point, and this song is what I’ve long considered the artistic high point of Crime of the Century. It hits on all cylinders.

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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  • Lorenzo

    One of my favorites from Supertramp.

  • headdoc25

    And the Davies harmonica at the very end of the fadeout of the title track that concludes the album… and the cycle begins again.

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