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Rascal Reporters


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Rascal Reporters Happy Accidents album cover
3.51 | 12 ratings | 4 reviews | 17% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1988

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side 1: Weigh In on the Way Out (21:05)
1. Pilgrim´s Pride (10:18)
2. The Chalky Substance Variations (5:08)
3. Karen´s Chalky Pilgrim (5:28)

Side 2: Trucks (18:20)
4. Thunderstruck (9:53)
5. Moonstruck (8:13)

Total time 39:25

Bonus tracks on 1996 ZNR Records CD:
6. Sent Flying (2:47)
7. Bones Chorale (1:55)
8. Another Excerpt from Psychlops (4:37)
9. Stabbing at Air (25:30)

1996 CD total time 75:02

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Kretzmer / keyboards, melodica, clarinet, electric guitar, bass guitar, drum set, percussion, voice
- Steve Gore / keyboards, electric guitar, bass guitar, melodica,clarinet, drum set, percussion, voice

Guest musicians
- Nick Didkovsky / electric guitar (1)
- James Grigsby / percussion (1)
- Dave Kerman / percussion (1)
- Lecy Fredo / violin (2)
- Guy Segers / bass guitar (3)
- Steve Feigenbaum / electric guitar (3)
- Paul Kretzmer / bass guitar (2, 5)
- Dave Newhouse / flute (1, 5), alto sax (3), baritone sax (3, 5), soprano sax (1, 5)

Releases information

LP Hebbardesque Records HR 005 (1988)

CD ZNR Records CD-1010 (1996, Re-edited, remixed and remastered, including 4 bonus tracks)

Thanks to victor77 for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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RASCAL REPORTERS Happy Accidents ratings distribution

(12 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (17%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

RASCAL REPORTERS Happy Accidents reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Back around 1990, give or take a year or so, I happened to be on an early Internet forum with a bunch of other musicians (at least one of whom is in a band list on this site). We found that many of us owned keyboard sequencers, and decided to untertake an unusual (we thought) project. We would sequence some tracks, and send them to the next musician in line, who would add to the song, and pass it along. The result was pretty weird, but very disjointed. I played a tape of the song for musician/music journalist Michael Bloom, who told me that another band had been doing something similar.

This is at least the second album where The Rascal Reporters, Steve Gore and Steve Kretzmer would lay down tracks, and send them to other musicians. Their final results were far better than ours. But then it certainly helps that the other musicians were from such notable bands as Dr. Nerve, The 5UU's. Motor Totemist Guild, The Muffins and Univers Zero.

Each side of the album is a suite of songs. And the one thing I notice the most is that at the points where the music is the most melodic, there is a strong resemblance to the Canterbury style of Hatfield and the North. But the music doesn't stay there. Each song veers into wonderfully bizarre RIO excursions. And all of it works quite well.

Side two, the suite called Trucks, to me is the better side. The songs are much more experimantal. But all are beautiful.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Rascal Reporters is the name of this US underground duo who developed a big (albeit marginal) career devoted to the constant reshaping of avant-garde progressive rock, mostly based on a mixture of Zappa, free jazz, RIO, krautrock and electronic experimentation. The RIO factor states a light-weight humor spin to the original European germination, not unlike other US bands from the late 70s and early 80s such as Cartoon and Pocket Orchestra. I personally had left the opportunity to do research on this band until I heard about one of its headmasters' death (Steve Gore), so "Happy Accidents", the band's fourth effort became my first RR experience. A great experience, indeed, which demanded attention and a sense of adventure from me. This album's original repertoire consisted of five tracks: the first three were grouped under the 'Weigh-In On the Weigh-Out' series, while the remaining two conformed the 'Trucks' series. 'Pilgrim's Pride' kicks off the album with a patently playful overtone, similar to some TV series jingle. Then, from out of nowhere, a lone flute state a whole different dynamic that paves the way for a frantic display of dissonant (yet not disturbing) polyphonic phrases. The frantic factor becomes enhanced later, when a new motif arrives and states an exciting mixture of free jazz and Art Bears-style RIO. This sort of bizarre successions is the stereotype that the band chooses to create its own musical voice: it seems that the duo's main interest is to utilize music as a tool of Dadaist humor, surrealistic logic and candid rebellion against the bourgeoisie conceptions of art. Moving on with the album's tracklist, 'The Chalky Substance Variations' follows this strategy, although the longer room for the motifs' development and the augmentation of the jazz- oriented element seem to create a more relaxed landscape for the duo and guests' deliveries. The presence of a recurrent joyful motif gives unity to this tracklist's first half. 'Karen's Chalky Pilgrim' closes down the 'Weigh-In On the Weigh-Out' trilogy, with a blatant use of all party music clichés: Charleston, circus, vaudeville, TV jingles. All the way until the main motif's reprise that works as the coda, the musicians display a sense of pleasant jolly folly. The album's original second half starts with the 10 ½ minute long 'Thunderstruck', full of twists and turns that compellingly show how efficient is a mixture of Zappa's craziest side, Samla Mammas Manna and Art Bears. Even though there era moments in which the musicians reinstate the sort of agility that was prominent in the album's first half, it is clear that this track's overall mood is focused on tension and deconstruction. 'Moonstruck' bears a ludic vivacity that somehow brings us back to track 2. The air of pleasant jolly folly is pertinently ornamented with more serene moods, which are provided in the interlude: this one features an introspective use of dissonant developments. The caustic elaboration of some instrumental sources may remind us of Art Bears (again), but also some stuff created by Faust during their golden years. A few second after the 8 ¾ mark, the band indulges in a brief exercise on musical chaos before getting to the circus- spirited coda. This is how the original tracklist ends. Now, the CD edition included 4 bonus tracks, with the first two being vignettes in which the band mixes free jazz flows and musique concrete. 'Another Excerpt from Psychlops' is a semi- ballad that finds the band bringing in some Canterburyish elements, without letting go of the RIO factor (a-la "Leg End"-era Henry Cow). The last bonus track, 'Stabbin' at Air', states an impressive 25+ minute duration. Experimental with a pronounced pleasant edge, complex yet not radically obtuse, not easy listening yet still bearing some accessibility, this piece can be described as an amalgam of Caravan, Zappa, Todd Rundgren, Supersister and Cartoon. That's all there is, as the Gentle Giant people would say. Well, a band that can afford to have members from Dr. Nerve, Univers Zero and 5UU's as special guests has to be interesting (at least, a priori) - in my book, Rascal Reporters is a very interesting band, a mandatory item in any avant-prog lover's collection of desert island albums. At least, "Happy Accidents" is.
Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars From 1985 and for the next two years Rascal Reporters would work occasionally on their fourth album ''Happy accidents'', recorded at Sonic Crayon Studios in Detroit and at the Living Room, which is propably a name for their home recordings.At this point the duo of Gore and Kretzmer had made some good friends within the global Prog/R.I.O. scene, most of which appear on the album: Dave Newhouse from The Muffins, often considered the third member of the band, percussionists David Kerman and James Grigsby, both from U Totem, Present's and Universe Zero's bassist Guy Segers, Steve Feigenbaum played the electric guitar (founder of Cuneiform Records and the Wayside Music disc distribution company), guitarist Nick Didkovsky plus Paul Kretzmer on bass.The album came out on the Hebbardesque label in 1988.

''Happy accidents'' consists of two sidelong pieces, ''Weigh in on the way-out'' and ''Trucks'', both are a little over or under the 20-min. mark and are divided in a few shorter segments.This work finds Rascal Reporters at their creative pinnacle, their music remains quite difficult to follow, often childish and certainly chaotic, but regarding the composing skills the American duo had set series of interesting instrumental work with influences from Jazz, R.I.O. and Classic Prog, while reducing the somewhat annoying experimental passages towards a more tight, still playful and pretty progressive nature.The music relies much on keyboards, bass, piano, effects and drums with sporadic electric guitars, flute, strings and sax, the most impressive characteristic on both pieces is the comfort of the duo to mix some light vibes from Classical Music and Jazz with full-blown keyboard and piano rhythms and the everchanging tempos in a complex and adventurous offering.For the non-mystified their music will be a huge surprise, it's almost like Cartoon Prog with period keyboard programming surfacing next to the physical sounds of instruments and sounding like FRANK ZAPPA, THE MUFFINS and YES sharing a common musical direction.I find ''Weigh in on the way-out'' to be a little more efficient, but both pieces contain excellent parts of keyboard masturbations, Fusion interplays, symphonic breaks and cheap orchestral moves.

ZNR Records reissued the album in CD format in 1995, throwing in a few bonus tracks, of which ''Stabbing at air'' clocks at 25-min. minutes!Where the hell was this one hidden?Anyway, it follows the same vein as the two original lengthy pieces with big time symphonic parts, jazzy interventions and neurotic keyboard flashes, but the production is much cleaner, while some vocal parts and percussion experimentations are present in its second half.

Very good effort on quirky instrumental Prog, some keyboard ideas sounding like cheaptunes are not that rewarding, but these men were flirting with the ''genius'' label, after composing such music with limited techniques.For fans of THE MUFFINS, GENTLE GIANT, FRENCH TV and similar bands of complex Prog.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars With a name like RASCAL REPORTERS you know these guys have a sense of humour. The band is actually two guys named Steve who were High School friends and both are multi- instrumentalists. I must admit that I often don't check out specifics of an album I'm listening to until I've spent some time with it, so yes I was very surprised to read the guests helping out here. In fact I really thought this was mostly a keyboard/ drum recording, which I guess it is(haha) but I missed the guitar and horns for some reason. Oh and who knew Steve F. from Cuneiform records was a musician? Not me, but he plays guitar on one track. Also Nick Didkovsky from DR. NERVE also plays guitar on one track, Guy Segers from UNIVERS ZERO plays bass on one track, James Grigsby and Dave Kerman both play percussion on one track, both from 5UU'S and Dave Newhouse from THE MUFFINS is the most prominent guest playing flute and sax and he plays on three tracks.

This is the album many state as RASCAL REPORTERS best and the fact it was released in 1988 a time that was pretty bleak for Prog fans certainly didn't hurt. This album has been a tough one for me to get into, it's divided into two suites and the opening one I quite like but I get annoyed with the second one which certainly affects my rating. It's just not clicking with me. It really sounds like they use a toy keyboard or something and there's some high pitched sounds that make me squint a bit. Yes I'm laughing right now. Hey this is avant music. The album seems to have a theme and that being transport trucks as the first suite is called "Weigh In On The Way- Out" and the second being "Trucks", yes I'm a genius. And the title of the album of course fit this.

"Pilgrim's Pride" has such a feel good intro that will be reprised a couple of times including near the end of the final track of this suite. I like when it suddenly turns melancholic with solo solemn flute. It kicks in a minute later with drums and high pitched keyboards. Another change a minute later as we get some great sounding angular guitar along with organ as percussion and drums support. Lots of more changes follow then that happy intro soundscape is reprised but it settles quickly as we get plenty of pulsating keys until the intro is reprised to end it. "The Chalky Substance Variations" is fast paced and avant before it calms right down with piano. Violin joins in and this is quite pleasant. Drums and distorted keys take over before the piano returns with drums this time. Again lots of changes on this track too.

"Karen's Chalky Pilgrim" opens with keys and shuffling drums before the keys start to pulsate and snapping fingers can be heard along with vocal melodies and bass too. A change 2 1/2 minutes in as drums and keys lead but with a different flavour. Pulsating keys are back along with bass and drums, catchy stuff. The intro from track one is reprised before it turns avant and it ends with some humour as we hear a sample of THE CARPENTERS popular song from back in the day. The "Trucks' suite is next with "Thunderstruck" as we here dual sounds that are off-set in this experimental intro before the drums kick in. Things change often though. It's dark before 2 minutes. Annoying high pitched sounds around 7 minutes pretty much to the end. "Moonstruck" has more high pitched keys with percussion and more. Not a fan. Fast paced high pitched keys after 3 minutes. It settles down before 5 minutes and flute eventually arrives before leading 7 1/2 minutes in as the tempo picks up and stays that way until the end.

Lots of fans of this one but it's just not my cup of tea overall.

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