Scrambled eggs, a kook and 911: the weird ‘Breakfast in America’ ...

Ideas

Scrambled eggs, a kook and 911: the weird ‘Breakfast in America’ story

Behind Supertramp’s iconic album sleeve is a tale of wit, prog-rock panache and a wildly silly conspiracy theory

Neil McCormick

Supertramp’s Breakfast in America (1979) progressive rock is a critically much-maligned musical genre, flourishing in the 1970s in the wake of psychedelia and drawing in elements of classical, jazz, world and experimental music, liberally doused with fantastical lyrical concepts.

This is sometimes ungenerously dismissed as a period when rock started to take itself too seriously and almost disappeared up its own 30-minute solos, before its grandiose excesses were curtailed by the arrival of punk and new wave.

Yet the best of prog (including masterpieces by Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson and Yes) was boldly idiosyncratic music. It was certainly a great field for album cover design. Prog rock bands wanted sleeves that reflected their seriousness of intent and enhanced thematic concepts. There was a lot of visual wit on display, never more so than on the album that made minor British prog rockers Supertramp a transatlantic phenomenon...

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