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THE MUSE AWAKENS

Happy The Man

Eclectic Prog


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Happy The Man The Muse Awakens    album cover
3.53 | 80 ratings | 19 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Contemporary Insanity (3:24)
2. The Muse Awakes (5:36)
3. Stepping Through Time (6:31)
4. Maui Sunset (5:10)
5. Lunch At The Psychedelicatessen (4:59)
6. Slipstream (4:43)
7. Barking Spiders (4:11)
8. Adrift (4:04)
9. Shadowlites (3:52)
10. Kindred Spirits (5:26)
11. Il Quinto Mare (7:22)

Total Time: 55:18

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Wyatt / saxes, keyboards, woodwinds
- Stanley Whitaker / guitars, vocal
- David Rosenthal / keyboards
- Joe Bergamini / drums, percussion
- Rick Kennell / bass

Releases information

CD Inside Out Music #IOM 187

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HAPPY THE MAN The Muse Awakens ratings distribution


3.53
(80 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
18%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
50%
Good, but non-essential (25%)
25%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

HAPPY THE MAN The Muse Awakens reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Oops, they did it again - Happy The Man's long awaited comeback album "The Muse Awakens" has been finally delivered, and what a masterpiece it's turned out to be! This is one major prog highlight for 2004 (perhaps 2004's best). All-time veterans Whitaker, Wyatt and Kennell have returned to the musical scene with their performing skills intact in their brilliance, and newcomers Rosenthal and Bergamini have added new blood and renewed strength to the Happy The Man sound, which generally speaking has kept its vintage essence - amazing symph prog with a jazz twist. This is due to the fact that this refurbished HTM have set a clear goal of resurrecting their own prog flame in the purity of its primal excellence: Bergamini's drumming style is pretty much reminiscent of that of Ron Riddle's, and Rosenthal's technical proficiency in his solos and exquisite sensibility in his textures are quite close to 'Watkins home'. On the other hand, these new kids on the block are not clones, but skillful accomplices in this new HTM task - in fact, Rosenthal contributes three compositions to the new repertoire, showing how well can this new blood run flowing through the band's artistic veins together with the old one. Having mentioned Riddle, let me add that the overall spirit of "The Muse Awakens" reminds me of the fluid combination of musical inventiveness and precise tightness that had been displayed in 1978's "Crafty Hands" (my fave HTM album). As usual, HTM's main factor is the struggle for exploring the possibilities of the basic compositional ideas with enough room for free expression while not abusing that same freedom: both the sense of ensemble and the inherent restrictions of the melodies and harmonic sequences written are given preference. The up-tempo opening track 'Contemporary Insanity' is very stimulating and catchy, and complex enough to sound quite interesting. Things get a bit calmer in the following title track, but the musical richness is actually more impressive; the same goes for 'Stepping Through Time', whose eerie passages and Gershwinesque colours drive the band toward majestic heights. These first three tracks pretty much indicate the very essence of "Muse Awakens", but there's room for some surprise, such as the delicate dissonances cheerfully delivered in 'Lunch at the Psychedelicatessen' and the funky oriented rocking energy portrayed in 'Barking Spiders'. Some of the most captivating sense of introspective melancholy is comprised in 'Adrift' and 'Kindred Spirits'. Well, I won't mention every single track of the album: suffice it to say that each one is simply great, and that the closure 'Il Quinto Mare' finds the band retaking their epic facet in a grandiose manner: what a beautiful way to end an album!. and what an album! It sure deserves the perfect rating - one more for Happy the Man.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#33048) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 04, 2004

Review by Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Hapy the Man returns with a beautifully created product. The band put "Happy" to the forefront of the theme, just like their name, mostly up-tempo instrumental jazz-prog with one brilliant vocal track. The production is very crystaline, smooth and breathy. The overall proformance is very tight with a jazzers swing.

Keyboardist David Rosenthal fills in admirably for Kit Watkins, who no longer wants to tour. The keyboard instruments are at the core of Happy the Man, Rosenthal is up to the task, his presence strong on each track. Drummer Joe Bergamini (4Front) plays with restraint in this setting. His playing swells below the current, almost waiting to explode. His fusion chops are kept in control.

The standout tracks are Il Quinto Mare, Shadowlites, Barking Spiders (oops, excuse me!) and Lunch at the Psychedelicatessen. Il Quinto Mare is very cinematic in it's approach, multi-segmented melodic prog with wonderful interaction between the soloists. Whitaker's vocal on Shadowlites is lovely. It makes you long for more. His voice is soothing and captures your attention. Barking Spiders starts off with a quirky guitar riff, a honking sax and bizarro synth fills. Totally fun and complex. This would be a live standout in my imagination. Lunch's keyboard ditty will stick in your head all day. Kind of a skippin' down the sidewalk feel.

The reason I'm giving this three stars instead of four is because fans of harder edged prog will find the softer, jazzier parts boring and uninteresting. It's not for everyone. Tunes like Adrift and Maui Sunset are great end of the day, reflective tunes. They unwind you. Some people just can't find that space, so this music would not hit home. If you like melodic understated music, this is a gem.

Let's hope we don't have to wait another twenty years for the next one.

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Send comments to Dan Bobrowski (BETA) | Report this review (#33055) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, February 21, 2005

Review by erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After a concert from the GENESIS imitation-band The Musical Box I got a free sampler from the progrock label InsideOut, that's the way I re-discovered HAPPY THE MAN's music. In the late Seventies their sound was based upon Kit Watkins his amazing Minimoog play so I was curious to this aspect on the new album. Well, you won't be surprised because many pitchbend driven Minimoog soli will please your ears. The (mainly instrumental) music on this album is a melodic blend of jazz and symphonic (with elements from MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, Al DIMEOLA, ELP, UK, KING CRIMSON) featuring 11 alternating and elaborated songs that ranges from warm and mellow with acoustic guitar, strings, piano, flute - and vibraphone-sound and saxophone to propulsive and bombastic with sensational synthesizer runs, fiery electric guitar and a dynamic rhythm-section. Great return!

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#33056) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, February 21, 2005

Review by NJprogfan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A somewhat mellower album then their two Arista records. The songs with bit, "Contemporary Insanity", Lunch...", and "Barking Spiders" are the highlights and are wholely compariable with their best material; killer guitar, burpy keyboards, fantastic percussion and, above all, humor. The humor is what's missing in most prog, and these guys fill the void with aplomb. As for the rest of the tracks, if you enjoy laying on the beach, or in bed with eyes closed and headphones on and are willing to drift off into the atmosphere, then you're in for a treat. Beautiful flutes, somber acoustic guitar, delicate horns and washes of keyboards, it's a quiet, non-threating way to pass time. In a way, the album is non-threating and is as pleasant as a summerl breeze. A flat-out wonderful chill- out prog album.

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Send comments to NJprogfan (BETA) | Report this review (#51529) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, October 13, 2005

Review by Slartibartfast
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is really Happy the Man's first album of new studio material in 25 years. Beginnings and Death's Crown were actually recorded before the debut album, Happy the Man, which came out in '77. This new album is certainly on par with my two favorites, the debut and Crafty Hands. I think these guys must have quit after '79's "Better Late.." because they were trying to do quality progressive music at a time when the bigger names were trending commercial and just didn't the attention and recognition they deserve.

If you've never heard this band before, the music is intense mostly instrumental prog, sometimes beautifully mellow, always complex compositions. Stanley Whitaker does the vocal track on Muse, but his vocal style, which used to be kind of cheesy in the '70's, has much improved.

They haven't put out any new material since this one, although band members Whitaker and Wyatt have done a duo album in '06. I hope to hear more from the band and that they don't fizzle away like they did at the end of the '70's. Fans of the '70's material will enjoy this and it's not a bad starting point for newbies.

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Send comments to Slartibartfast (BETA) | Report this review (#131625) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 03, 2007

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It is rewarding when a bunch of oldtimers stick to their guns, pull up their socks and make some good new music. Scooping into the bottom of one's bag of tricks, reaching out to that creative muse that may or may not be there, is never easy and in the case of a bunch of aging progsters, fairly brave. The album is missing a little something-- maybe the fantastic Kit Watkins on keys, maybe the inventive musical atmosphere of a bygone era, or just not being as hungry for cutting-edge symphonic rock as they once were. All that aside, this was a very encouraging little release and should please HtM fans widely. A 'comeback' for them if you will, and full of the delightful melody/rhythm interactions, eccentricities, counterpoint, integrity and good fun this group has always shown.

'Contemporary Insanity' is a perfect example of that newfound inspiration with hopping keyboard lines from David Rosenthal, Stanley Whitaker's mean guitar and much polymetric candy. Drummer Joe Bergamini and bassist Rick Kennel do a bang up job on rhythm as well, and leader Frank Wyatt's strong hand is felt as are his tasteful saxes and woodwinds. The set's title cut says it all and though lasts a meager five and a half minutes (a drop in the bucket in prog terms), captures the variety and refined ideas these guys are capable of. 'Stepping Through Time' reflects a fondness for jazz, even hints of Canterbury, though a voyage through nu-symphonic space is more in-line with what we're hearing. U.K.'s high-synth video game tendencies are reawakened as well, and some good old-fashioned HtM counterpoint for 'Lunch at the Psychedelicatessen' with plenty of carnival humor, the silly bounce of children's music, squeezebox oddities and Wyatt's unhinged sax. 'Slipstream' represents the slower and perhaps weaker parts of the album, sounding a touch more like AM radio than prog rock but 'Barking Spiders' refreshes things with Whitaker's stumbling guitar, various gastrointestinal noises, and a thoroughly good time had by all. 'Adrift' is another lugubrious try at Adult Contemporary, 'Shadowlites' features a rare vocal and a surprisingly gooey center, and 'Kindred Spirits' is quiet and soothing if too long. Fortunately, the seven-minute 'Il Quinto Mare' is a fine slab of piano-based Symph brimming with high-end Prog and jaw-dropping playing to end on a high note. A must for fans of this fine outfit, and worth inspection from symphomaniacs everywhere.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#132351) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After a twenty-five years break, here are HTM again.

I don't know what motivated the choice of three founding members to regroup and I am often careful with these come backs. Most of the time, they are rather a deception at least for the casual listener (which I am in the case of HTM). The story is of course different for die-hard fans.

While listening to the opener, one immediately acknowledges that their hectic jazzy flavour hasn't been forgotten during all these years. But "Contemporary Insanity" is maybe an exception on this work which is quieter than usual.

The title track features average ambient music and it is only with "Stepping Through Time" that the band is capable of drawing my attention. Fine fluting in the intro, pleasant jazzy beat, complex drumming and very good synth part are a great combination which contributes all together to elevate the quality level. It is my second preferred track from this album. Emotive guitar also adds to the joyful atmosphere. A very good song.

A tranquil and cosy mood is also present in "Maui Sunset". But this repetitive instrumental is a bit too much of the same and doesn't really move me. Background music, that's all. This album would have fit better in the jazz-rock genre. It is a long succession of jazzy oriented songs which, at times, are elegant but not always. "Lunch At The Psychedelicatesse" is rather dull. Sounds as an improvised stuff and the sax solo is much too noisy.

Further on, "Slipstream" sounds more as a soundtrack piece for an animal report than anything else. And the boring feeling is growing on me.To wake up, a funky jazzy "Barking Spiders" is finally succeeding in keeping up the interest for this album. Fully Crimsonesque, it also belongs to the best parts from this album. As the quiet and smooth "Adrift".

"Shadowlites" also sounds a bit better than average, at least during the vocal section which is very nice and harmonious. I wish to have had more tracks with vocals. But this has never been a HTM characteristics. Too bad!

This album holds very little surprises. A bit too conventional, as if HTM was afraid of not pleasing their old fans. But I have to admit that the middle part of the ambient "Kindred Spirits" is magical. A guitar solo as Carlos would have been able to release. But it is too short to bring this track to the next level.

IMO, the best affair here is "Il Quinto Mare". Several theme changes, upbeat music sometimes, powerful organ play and strong riff are the ingredients. It really breaks with the global feeling of this uniform album although the finale renews with the overall tranquility of this work.

IMO, their early albums (up to Crafty) were more interesting. I can't really tell that this album is a bad one nor a good one. Average. Five out of ten.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#169549) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 02, 2008

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars It was a pleasure to hear that Happy The Man had regrouped to create a new album a few years ago. It is a disappointment that this comeback appears to have only lasted for one album.

This album is very much like the original HTM albums. It is somewhere between symphonic prog and fusion. Some of the fusion is quite light. And there are a few stunning tracks to keep things interesting. Happily, most of the light pieces, like The Muse Awakens and Stepping Through Time have sections that either step up the intensity, or add some complexity to keep things interesting. In fact, the only track that doesn't grab me at all is Slipstream, which might feel at home on a Kenny G album.

The standout tracks are Contemporary Insanity, Lunch At The Psychedelicatessen, Barking Spiders and Il Quinto Mare. Is it a coincidence that the best songs also have the best titles? Each of these tracks are in the upper echelons of HTM's repertoire.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#262855) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review by ExittheLemming
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The Muse Oversleeps and is 27 years late for work

27 years after their charming and quirky début, 'Happy the Man' were it appears sufficiently disgruntled to feel the need to address some unfinished business. I have to say they look a damn sight more aesthetically appealing than the 'spaniels in bathrobes' that looked out sheepishly at us from their early publicity shots. (Notwithstanding the recruitment of two new spaniels in the interim) Time has also been a lot kinder to their music than it has for the likes of contemporaries 'Starcastle' (another flouncy pyjama-clad shampoo orgy but whose coiffured artwork and bouffant music makes some 'Yes' tribute bands sound original) It's a shame that Happy the Man's career timing were not as exemplary as their musical one, seeing as how they formed just as 'Punk' aimed its first glob of phlegm in the direction of everything it deemed hopelessly hippy, soft and fluffy. Those who are truly original but unsuccessful always seem to have to wait for the world to acknowledge them during that final straight inside the stadium and suffer with good grace the unrealistic expectation that marathon runners should embark on a victory lap.

You would expect the lads to have mellowed in the intervening years certainly, but perhaps not to the detrimental extent that is vouchsafed by the music contained herein. It's often bland, tame and mostly just far too damn polite by half. The delightful and intricate interplay is still abundantly in evidence but the melodic ideas just don't stick to the cranium walls like they did on Crafty Hands back in 1978. Perhaps maturity robs some musicians of that compensating tension that comes with exploring and aspiring towards what is currently just out of reach?. There are lengthy portions of this critter that make me believe the aforementioned race really is the prize for we listeners.The muse has not so much awakened as simply leant over to hit the snooze button for another untroubled hour between the sheets. As damning as the foregoing may appear it is testimony to the regard I have for this band that I was expecting so much more but rest assured, no ensemble as talented as this lot can be completely bereft of good ideas for a whole 55 minutes:

Shadowlites - A stirring and beautiful song ushered along by some huge and majestic electric guitar arpeggios that chime their unheeded warning beneath a haunting and brilliantly emotive vocal melody from Whitaker. Exemplary use of pace and dynamics to build inexorably towards a climax that like all the best ones, leaves you dangling and begging for more. All of which suggests that this being the only track with vocals, perhaps more conventional 'song' based material may have cast the 2004 incarnation of 'Happy the Man' in a more flattering and contemporary light ?. They are one of the very few prog outfits who have never outstayed their welcome on any track.

Adrift - Eerie yet beguiling acoustic guitar arpeggios outline an elusively smudged harmony redolent of a creepier stalking 'Genesis' and the creamy as buttermilk sax of Wyatt is achingly poignant. Once again the judicious use of dynamic contrast for the soaring climactic theme is brilliantly negotiated but just makes me pine for a more regular fix of same as provided by the first two albums.

Lunch at the Psychedelicatessen - A title pun to die for luvvies and here we meet the quirkier and 'disclocated funk branch' of Happy the Man on an alternately agitated then serenely calm tune that conjures up King Crimson teaching Gentle Giant a Return to Forever number (shorn of all the hey ma look at me, those lessons are now paying for themselves bits i.e. any RTF intro)

Il Quinto Mare - (Fifth Sea?) Rippling piano implies the harmonies and crunchy single note guitar operates as unnerving pedal point before a very attractive wobbly synth lead is stated over the most overtly meaty groove on the record. Much of this type of development carries a nod to a somewhat meeker Crimson but jettisons the latter influence for a more conventional symphonic Camel/Focus conclusion. Unfortunately the whole thing rather paddles it's way down the sink like an amputee spider at the end though, on a very muted and unsatisfactory conclusion.

I think it goes without saying that if you like this band you should get hold of The Muse Awakes but I cannot envisage many non believers are gonna start knocking on doors with evangelical zeal to spread the good word after hearing this album. However, any proghead owes it to themselves to seek out and hunt down Happy the Man's first two albums and embrace some magnificent music that tragically fell under the radar the first time around.

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Send comments to ExittheLemming (BETA) | Report this review (#273260) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2010

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The Muse may have awakened I just wish the band had done the same.This is a pedestrian and laid back album that really lacks dynamics and that adventerous spirit that Prog was all about back in the day. So yes it's great that the boys are back but I was expecting something more quirky and alive. As much as I want to comment on the two pictures of the band in the liner notes i'll try to be mature like the music here.

"Contemporary Insanity" is one of the few uptempo tracks and there's lots of keyboards here. "The Muse Awkens" is laid back and mellow with sax. It picks up some before 2 1/2 minutes. Good song. "Stepping Through Time" is relaxed early on with flute and piano. It does start to build and we get some prominant guitar 4 minutes in. "Maui Sunset" opens with the sounds of waves as pastoral music comes in and takes over. It's fuller after 2 1/2 minutes.

"Lunch At The Psychedelicatessen" is led by keys and a beat early and it builds. Some sax here too. "Slipstream" opens with piano as background synths arrive. A beat and other sounds join in on this mellow tune. "Barking Spiders" has a fusiony vibe with sax. Some energy here too for a change. "Adrift" has acoustic guitar and soft sax. A drifting track really (haha). It does kick in at 2 1/2 minutes then settles back. "Shadowlites" is the only song with vocals. It sounds great to start as the vocals join in. Good song. "Kindred Spirits" is a light tune with a relaxed beat and woodwinds. It's a little more passionate 4 minutes in. "Il Quinto Mare" opens with seagulls and waves then the piano comes in. Drums and a full sound follow.A calm 4 minutes in with water sounds,piano and more. Seagulls and waves end it.

A low 3 stars for this tame affair.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#437310) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Happy the Man without Kit Watkins is a prospect some fans of the band may feel some trepidation about, and whilst I don't think David Rosenthal does a bad job replacing Kit when it comes to the actual performances, I think the band's compositions on The Muse Awakens suffer a bit from the lack of Kit's contributions. The album is a collection of pleasant enough symphonic prog pieces which don't quite hit the standards of the band's self-titled debut or the classic Crafty Hands, seeming a little airy and insubstantial compared to them. There's lots of technically adept playing, but I'm not seeing where the album's heart is.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#675029) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Happy the Man last testament is The muse awakens from 2004, after this release they will disbaned in 2005, sadly. Kit Watkins is not present on this relelase but the music is elegant and inventive as on the glory days, at least to my ears. David Rosenthal on keyboards is a very eminent keyboard player with good pedigree in rock music, with collaboarations with Rainbow among others. As I said the music is elegant, intelligent arrangements all over with some spectacular moments like opening track Contemporary Insanity, some blistering musicinaship here, awesome. The title track is a smooth spacey airy with superb interplays between instruments. Not much to say if you love this unique band, that this album must be into your collection. Inspired album, top notch musicinaship. A winner to me and because of that 4 stars easy.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#1078957) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Latest members reviews

4 stars Good music guided primarily by keyboards of David Rosenthal and Frank Wyatt, with good participation of sax and guitar. The pace is mostly slow and placid. The Muse Awakes and Slipstream contain beautiful melodies, well developed through its peaceful course. Kindred Spirits also flows through ... (read more)

Report this review (#936556) | Posted by sinslice | Thursday, March 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars A disappointment. IMHO, 2007's OBLIVION SUN disc featuring Wyatt and Whitaker with three new band mates is FAR superior to this 2004 effort. There are a handful of tracks which entertain and invoke the classic sound of HTM...Rosenthal's Contemporary Insanity is a promising opener, and the n ... (read more)

Report this review (#172019) | Posted by Rutgers Joe | Friday, May 23, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars For me this CD it is not a prog album!It seems an album about FUSION like bands as Acoustic Alchemy or Special EFX because the music is too much mellow with a few use of keyboards;there are not suites or analog so I don't like . ... (read more)

Report this review (#33059) | Posted by | Wednesday, March 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars A decent return but not as energy filled as earlier titles. The new players do a fine job technically but it sounds as if they were rehearsing some songs right up to the point of recording them. Sonically, it is somewhat one-dimentional. There's not much depth in the sounds and the bass tone is ... (read more)

Report this review (#33057) | Posted by | Saturday, February 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Really poor effort... Compositions are based on simple (mostly jazz) motives. Ambitions much higher than the actual talent... Somebody wrote the songs are catchy... Well, for me they are everything but catchy, sorry... The main thing though, is that this album makes me completelly indifferent. ... (read more)

Report this review (#33052) | Posted by | Tuesday, January 25, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This excellent album is a glorious comback for these guys. It picks up right where they left off, and is the natural follow-up to Crafty Hands. Some people really don't like this band, and I can understand that they aren't for everyone. I have always considered them more fusion than prog. ... (read more)

Report this review (#33051) | Posted by | Monday, January 03, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I am very impressed and surprised by this album. I've loved the other Happy The Man albums for years, and had low expectations for a "comeback" album after so many years away--especially with Kit Watkins absent. But much to my surprise this album is excellent, and joins right where the others ... (read more)

Report this review (#33050) | Posted by | Tuesday, December 14, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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