Supertramp – Crisis? What Crisis? – An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

More Supertramp

More Crisis? What Crisis?


CRISIS? WHAT CRISIS? is an album we admit to being obsessed with — just look at the number of commentaries we’ve written about it. 

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands — maybe a bit too much time on your hands — please feel free to check out our commentaries.

This link will take you to our other SUPERTRAMP albums. 

This album ticks off a number of boxes that are important to understanding records and their reproduction.

  • The original is not the way to go on this album, at least not on the domestic pressings. There are currently 70+ listings discussing this idea and there could easily be double that if we took the time to create them.
  • This recording is Difficult to Reproduce. We described some of the challenges in a recent shootout-winning listing:

The overall sound is as big and bold as it gets, with huge amounts of difficult-to-control, or perhaps we should say difficult-to-reproduce, UPPER MIDRANGE musical information.

Layer upon layer of multi-tracked guitars, voices, keyboards, percussion instruments and more build up in the loudest and most dynamic passages. The good copies keep it all clean, separate and undistorted, and the bad copies make a hash of it.

  • The recording is yet another that we found can really come alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

And boy does this record get LOUD when it wants to. One pop record out of a hundred has dynamics like those found on the best pressings of CWC. Dark Side of the Moon has them. Blood Sweat and Tears has them. Thick as a Brick too. We love that sound but we sure don’t hear it that often. When we do we sit up and pay attention!

And when it gets this loud, it had better be mastered and pressed right or it will tear your head off. Only the best copies get better as they get louder.

  • Years ago we actually used to prefer the Half-Speed Mastered pressing, made by Jack Hunt for A&M, to the domestic and British copies we had been doing our shootouts with. Eventually, with improvements to every aspect of our playback system, as well as the record cleaning technologies we developed, we came to see the error of our ways.
  • There are a large number of commentaries associated with being wrong. Unlike practically any audiophile reviewer we have ever encountered, we don’t have a problem with making mistakes. If you already know it all, how can you learn anything?
  • We go out of our way to mention the records that helped us to Live and Learn something. Besides the fact that we are the only record sellers in the world who do comprehensive records shootouts, admitting to our mistakes would be enough to make us unique in the world of audiophiles
  • Here’s more on the benefits to be gained by Making Mistakes. We discussed the issue recently on a copy of Led Zeppelin’s Presence that wasn’t exhibiting the problems we had ascribed to it in recent listing.

Of course the reason I hadn’t heard those problems is that over the last year or so we fixed them. How I don’t really know.

Maybe the main improvements happened just last week with the cartridge being dialed in better. Or maybe it was that in combination with the few new room tweaks. Or maybe those changes built upon other changes that had happened earlier; there’s really no way to know. You have to get around to doing the annual shootout for any given record in order to find out how far you’ve come, or if you’ve come any way at all. Fortunately for us the improvements, regardless of what they might be or when they might have occurred, were incontrovertible. The album was now playing at a higher level.

It’s natural to blame sonic shortcomings on the recording; everyone does it. But in this case We Was Wrong. The grain and distortion we mentioned are no longer a problem on the best copies. We’ve worked diligently on every aspect of record cleaning and reproduction, and now there’s no doubt that we can get Presence to play much better than we could before. This is why we keep experimenting, and why we encourage you to do the same.

  • Without a doubt Crisis? What Crisis? is a Big Speaker album, in exactly the same way that Crime of the Century, the only other Supertramp album engineered and produced by Ken Scott, is. Our commentary:

Playing a Hot Stamper copy at loud levels with big woofers will have your house quaking. Add to that the kind of ENERGY that the better pressings have in their grooves and the result is an album guaranteed to bring most audiophile systems to their knees, begging for mercy.

This is The Audio Challenge that awaits you. If you don’t have a system designed to play records with this kind of SONIC POWER, don’t expect to hear Crime of the Century the way Ken and the boys wanted you to. The album wants to rock your world, and that’s exactly what our Hot Stamper pressings are capable of doing.

  • Supertramp is certainly one of the most influential and important bands in my growth as a music lover and audiophile, joining the ranks of Roxy Music, Ambrosia, 10cc, Steely Dan, Yes, Bowie and countless others, musicians and bands who seemed to me dedicated to exploring and exploding the conventions of popular music.My equipment was forced to evolve in order to be able to play the scores of challenging recordings issued by these groups in the ’70s. You could say that the albums of Supertramp and others (The Beatles of course) informed not only my taste in music but the actual stereo I play that music on. It’s what Progress in Audio is all about. I’ve had large scale dynamic speakers for the last four decades, precisely in order to play records like this, the kind of music I fell in love with back in the ’70s.
  • And Large Scale Orchestral Recordings surely represent one of the tougher challenges to a system, which is precisely what makes them a good choice for selecting records with which to evaluate equipment or tweak your stereo.
  • In case you haven’t seen it on the site, here is a quick rundown on what we use to evaluate the very special pressings we call Hot Stampers, Our Playback System, a work in progress to be sure.
  • Rather than continue to go on for days like this, let’s wrap it up with a shout out to one of the Engineering Giants of the ’60s and ’70s, KEN SCOTT, the man at the board for albums such as Ziggy Stardust, Magical Mystery Tour, Honky Chateau, Crime of the Century, Birds of Fire and many, many more.