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Happy The Man - Crafty Hands CD (album) cover


Happy The Man


Eclectic Prog

3.87 | 207 ratings

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3 stars Quite a grower this one, but still distinctly over-rated. Some Happy The Man fans will go through great lengths to portray this group as the great American hope ... the US's answer to Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and the like. But frankly, on the basis of this album, Happy The Man is good, but is not even close to being in that league.

Nonetheless, this is an eminently "dig-able" collection of progressive rock instrumentals. I notice it takes me a little longer to get into instrumental prog albums than ones that have vocals on which I can hang my memory, but now some of the melodies that ingrained themselves in my mind. Morning Sun in particular, has an intoxicating, unforgetable melody and smacks of the kind of work that Genesis and Camel were doing at the same time accross the pond. Like those bands, and even though Kit Watkins and company clearly have a lot of instrumental skills at their disposal, Happy The Man is rarely flashy.

Almost every piece has its moments. The explorative Ibby It Is, twisty Steaming Pipes (with sizzling synth from Watkins over a jarring rhythmic excursion), the organic flute-led segments of Open Book, the welcome energy of I Forgot To Push It and the moody, synthy The Moon I Sing all play their part. I'm not overly enamoured of Stanley Whittaker's guitar sound which sort of predates neo-prog (I have a sneaking suspicion that the neo-prog brigade will enjoy this album, actually) but I can live with it.

Tellingly, the feeling of boredom that occasionally overcame me during my first couple of listens to Crafty Hands seems to be a thing of the past (although this is aided by the fact that at around 34 minutes, the original album is a rather short one). The bonus track really seems unnecessary because it is a live version of the last cut The Moon I Sing and the playing is so clean and clear, that it feels like a spot on duplication of the studio original that preceeds it!

As this is still the only Happy The Man album I've heard, I can't compare it to the other efforts Happy The Man and Better Late, but I have to say that while I'm pleased enough with Crafty Hands, I'm not going to embark on a crusade to get those other albums. ... 63% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 3/5 |


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