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Slapp Happy - Casablanca Moon CD (album) cover


Slapp Happy



3.62 | 52 ratings

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3 stars Slapp Happy's 1974 album is a long way from the quirky Rock in Opposition of the band's later collaborations with HENRY COW. What it presents instead is an equally quirky set of oddball cabaret pop tunes, simple yet sophisticated (in true Old World European fashion) but with a more contemporary sense of whimsy.

The nearly one dozen melodies are often very catchy, but too lightweight for long-term appeal. Maybe that was a consequence of having to record the album twice, with a little record label arm-twisting. (The original version, featuring more input from the Krautrock provocateurs of FAUST, was later released with the title spelled backward.)

Whatever else it may or may not be, this is definitely a fun album, as you might have guessed after studying the instrumentation (jugs? sausage bassoons?) And Dagmar Krause's voice was a musical instrument all by itself, perfectly matched to such pleasantly eccentric songwriting. The sound throughout is very intimate, very natural, as if a bunch of good friends were recorded performing an ad-hoc concert in your modestly furnished basement game room.

The title track merits special attention, if only because it's been stuck in my head for weeks: a foreign intrigue tango from the alleyways of Morocco to the mean streets of New Jersey. Lyrically the song suggests a collaboration between crime novelist Eric Ambler and songwriter Colin Meloy, because where else besides in a DECEMBERISTS tune would you expect to hear references to cabalistic innuendo, cocaine stains on the upper lip, and a headless body stuffed into a ventilator?

I don't subscribe to the bias that complexity equals quality, an equation sometimes taken for granted in Prog Rock circles. The early work of Slapp Happy supports my point: the music here may not be very ambitious, but a surplus of charm and character has kept the album from becoming stale for more than 35 years now.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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