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Slapp Happy - Desperate Straights (with Henry Cow) CD (album) cover

DESPERATE STRAIGHTS (WITH HENRY COW)

Slapp Happy

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.81 | 39 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Rune2000
Special Collaborator
Prog Metal Team
4 stars The first of the two Slapp Happy/Henry Cow collaborations, or the other way around if you feel like it! Even though Desperate Straights is often labeled as more of a Slapp Happy release, I honestly don't consider it to be dominated by either of the two acts. It's true that In Praise Of Learning might be leaning heavily on the instrumental arrangements with clear links to Jazz but it would be wrong to see it as the next logical step following Legend and Unrest.

The biggest audible change comes with Dagmar Krause's new vocal approach that isn't as melodic as it was on Casablanca Moon but there are still many instances where she diverges from that new Avant-garde direction and breaks her stylish personality. The instrumental arrangements aren't as vibrant and colorful as what Slapp Happy has been know for and it's clear that these music passages weren't written by solely by Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad. It's not that the members of Henry Cow are bad composers, quite the contrary, but I often feel like these compositions would have worked better as instrumentals and that Slapp Happy members aren't always used to their full potential.

The final product is still quite an extraordinary experience that can easily be called a prequel to the style that was later used on the Art Bears project. It's true the side two is a bit weaker, mainly because the crazy experiments get a bit stale, but the final product manages to touch just the tip of my excellent album criteria. It's a pity that the record gets almost butchered by the bland 8 minute Caucasian Lullaby that come right towards the end. This composition just doesn't fit into the overall mood of the album and therefore has no place here.

Overall, this is a great album for all fans of RIO/Avant-Prog sound. It might not be a highly prioritized album purchase, but a must-have nonetheless. I hope it makes sense!

***** star songs: Some Questions About Hats (1:50) A Worm Is At Work (1:53) Bad Alchemy (3:07) Europa (2:49) Except From The Messiah (1:49)

**** star songs: The Owl (2:14) Desperate Straights (4:14) Riding Tigers (1:43) Apes In Capes (2:14) Strayed (1:54) Giants (1:57) In The Sickbay (2:08)

*** star songs: Caucasian Lullaby (8:20)

Rune2000 | 4/5 |

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