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Happy The Man - Happy the Man CD (album) cover


Happy The Man


Eclectic Prog

3.87 | 266 ratings

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Squire Jaco
4 stars All too often, an obscure band remains so because of some fairly relevant reasons: not original enough, not creative enough, not likeable, not good enough musicians, etc... NONE of that applies to this relatively obscure group. Let's blame their obscurity on bad timing (prog struggling in a world of disco and punk) and perhaps lack of good marketing and support from their label.

This is beautiful, creative and interesting prog (by Americans!) in the vein of instrumental Camel, but unique nonetheless. (I recall keyboardist Kit Watkins' contributions to Camel's "I Can See Your House From Here" album around 1980.) The music has great melodies coupled with surprising tempo changes, and is consistently listenable - never hard (or "metal"), nor too soft (or "ambient"). It mixes moods that are alternately positive, mysterious and humorous, with an inexpressible excitement to it. Some similarity to the Dixie Dregs sound (subtract the violin, add sax and flute).

First-time listeners, don't be misled by the slower, spacey opener, "Starborne". About two minutes into the second track, "Stumpy Meets the Firecracker...", and you'll know the true flavor of this band. Another favorite of mine is the instrumental "Knee Bitten Nymphs in Limbo." By the way, two tracks have vocals, sung well enough by guitarist Stanley Whitaker.

To be sure, there are literally thousands of bands over the past 50 years or so that have had a virtuoso keyboardist here, or killer guitarist there, or a showpiece drummer, etc. But rarely do so many technically proficient musicians appear together in ONE band as they do with Happy the Man, and they combine it with superb songwriting and production (all of which makes their relatively humble following even more perplexing!).

If you've read this far, you can trust me when I say that this is great progressive music, as is their followup album "Crafty Hands". ("Death's Crown" also contains some great music, but beware the sound-board production quality.) I only regret that I waited almost 30 years to hear this!

4-1/2 stars

Squire Jaco | 4/5 |


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