MENU
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Happy The Man - The Muse Awakens CD (album) cover

THE MUSE AWAKENS

Happy The Man

 

Eclectic Prog

3.58 | 102 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The Virginia band Happy the Man released only two studio albums before changing tastes pushed them rudely off the map at the end of the 1970s. But they didn't vanish entirely: a sporadic selection of archival music would appear over the next few decades, keeping the memory of a unique band alive and paving the way toward this unexpected reunion project in 2004.

The core of the group, minus only Kit Watkins, was still intact. And the survivors resumed more or less exactly where they left off a quarter-century earlier, when Arista Records pulled the financial plug after the failure of the band's career peak "Crafty Hands" album. The new music was the same quirky, instrumental Prog, freshly energized by all the time off and no less eclectic than before: not Symphonic Rock; not Jazz Fusion; and certainly not the retro-copycat sound favored by too many latter-day proggers.

What's missing of course is the zeitgeist itself. Progressive Rock was mainstream in the middle '70s, but in our tame new millennium the style (actually more an attitude than a formal style) has been reduced to a healthy fringe movement for musical outsiders. Which makes new albums like this one, tied to a shared creative heritage but still completely original, all the more welcome, offering discriminating listeners a double rush of both discovery and recognition. Compare the results here with the half-baked efforts of other Golden Age Progressive refugees to hear the correct method for recharging a long-dormant musical battery.

A few of the song titles speak directly to the change of circumstances: "The Muse Awakens"; "Stepping Through Time"; and of course the tongue-in-cheek "Contemporary Insanity". The latter opens the album on a blast of pure Prog adrenalin comparable to the best of Gentle Giant, but in truth making the Shulman brothers sound like constipated sleepwalkers. Frontloading the strongest track may have cost the album some momentum, because little of what follows can match it (although the perfectly-titled, off-kilter spasm of 'Barking Spiders" comes close). And sometimes the music drifts uncomfortably close to something not unlike smooth jazz, in "Slipstream", "Adrift', and elsewhere.

But never without being redeemed by a typically playful touch of Prog Rock vigor and intricacy. Only truly creative, totally disciplined musicians can think in such odd meters and still write melodies sounding so unforced and natural: an HTM specialty, then and now.

The reunion was brief, however, and the band has since moved on to other projects. But if this was the last we'll ever hear of Happy the Man, at least they quit on their own terms, fulfilling the potential denied them by a narrow-minded music industry once upon an earlier time.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this HAPPY THE MAN review

Social review comments () BETA







Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives