Supertramp, “Sister Moonshine” from Crisis? What Crisis? (1975): One Track Mind

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Roger Hodgson’s bread and butter has always been the cheery, melodic folk-ish tunes, and anyone with just a passing knowledge about Supertramp knows that the band’s success was built nearly entirely on that one particular talent of his. Sure, “The Logical Song,” “Dreamer” and “Take The Long Way Home” became some irresistible pop anthems, but whenever Roger pulls out his 12-string guitar, there’s no chance he’s going to play a bad tune.

He’s just got an innate ability to coax the sweetest melodies from that instrument and sings with some genuine, heartfelt singing that with that high pitch just soars above the song. That’s a winning formula he performed to perfection with 1977’s “Give A Little Bit,” still my favorite among Supertramp’s hit songs.

Go back two years earlier, however, and you’ll find a pretty fine dry run for that classic in “Sister Moonshine,” released as part of Crisis? What Crisis? on September 14, 1975.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson joined us to discuss his passion for writing with the Wurlitzer and how he willed himself back from a catastrophic injury.]

An elfin, silvery tune as there ever was one in rock, Roger Hodgson starts off with that twelve-string, and augments it with an electric sitar as he sings with a forlorn tone about the childhood innocence he misses:

Ooo-when I was a small boy,
Well, I could see the magic in a day,
But, now I’m just a poor boy,
Well, maybe it’s the price you have to pay,
If you lock your dreams away
If no one wants to listen.

Even as this song is Hodgson’s all the way, one of overlooked things about Supertramp is how everyone on the band could take a good song and make it better. Co-leader Rick Davies adds his usual counterpoint vocals in the refrain and a harmonica in the second chorus practically mimics his harmonica lines on “School” from Supertramp’s prior Crime Of The Century. Dougie Thomson’s lilting bass lines are, as usual, bang on. And Bob Siebenberg’s cascading drums fill out the sound without getting in the way. John Helliwell’s whimsical flageolet jousting with Rick Davies’ harmonica at the fadeout even adds to the fairy tale imagery.

Unfortunately, this song never enjoyed the success that close cousin “Give A Little Bit” later did. Still, on “Sister Moonshine,” Hodgson sounds more like a hoped-for minstrel than just merely a musician – and Supertramp simply shines.

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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