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Happy The Man

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Happy The Man The Muse Awakens album cover
3.61 | 136 ratings | 22 reviews | 16% 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

Line-up / Musicians

- Stanley Whitaker / guitars, vocals
- Frank Wyatt / keyboards, saxophones, woodwinds
- David Rosenthal / keyboards
- Rick Kennell / bass
- Joe Bergamini / drums & percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Dan Muro and Nikki Davis

CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 187 (2004, Germany)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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HAPPY THE MAN The Muse Awakens ratings distribution

(136 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(52%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (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.

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.

Review by erik neuteboom
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!
Review by NJprogfan
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.
Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
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.

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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
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.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury 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.

Review by Mellotron Storm
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.

Review by Warthur
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.
Review by b_olariu
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.
Review by Neu!mann
4 stars The Virginia band Happy the Man released only two studio albums before changing tastes pushed them rudely off the map at the end of the 1970s. But they didn't vanish entirely: a sporadic selection of archival music would appear over the next few decades, keeping the memory of a unique band alive and paving the way toward this unexpected reunion project in 2004.

The core of the group, minus only Kit Watkins, was still intact. And the survivors resumed more or less exactly where they left off a quarter-century earlier, when Arista Records pulled the financial plug after the failure of the band's career peak "Crafty Hands" album. The new music was the same quirky, instrumental Prog, freshly energized by all the time off and no less eclectic than before: not Symphonic Rock; not Jazz Fusion; and certainly not the retro-copycat sound favored by too many latter-day proggers.

What's missing of course is the zeitgeist itself. Progressive Rock was mainstream in the middle '70s, but in our tame new millennium the style (actually more an attitude than a formal style) has been reduced to a healthy fringe movement for musical outsiders. Which makes new albums like this one, tied to a shared creative heritage but still completely original, all the more welcome, offering discriminating listeners a double rush of both discovery and recognition. Compare the results here with the half-baked efforts of other Golden Age Progressive refugees to hear the correct method for recharging a long-dormant musical battery.

A few of the song titles speak directly to the change of circumstances: "The Muse Awakens"; "Stepping Through Time"; and of course the tongue-in-cheek "Contemporary Insanity". The latter opens the album on a blast of pure Prog adrenalin comparable to the best of Gentle Giant, but in truth making the Shulman brothers sound like constipated sleepwalkers. Frontloading the strongest track may have cost the album some momentum, because little of what follows can match it (although the perfectly-titled, off-kilter spasm of 'Barking Spiders" comes close). And sometimes the music drifts uncomfortably close to something not unlike smooth jazz, in "Slipstream", "Adrift', and elsewhere.

But never without being redeemed by a typically playful touch of Prog Rock vigor and intricacy. Only truly creative, totally disciplined musicians can think in such odd meters and still write melodies sounding so unforced and natural: an HTM specialty, then and now.

The reunion was brief, however, and the band has since moved on to other projects. But if this was the last we'll ever hear of Happy the Man, at least they quit on their own terms, fulfilling the potential denied them by a narrow-minded music industry once upon an earlier time.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars The late 70s and 80s may have been the greatest test for progressive bands to weather out the storm with some, mostly neo-prog bands holding out and carrying the torch against hurricane force winds but the 90s saw a calm in the storm with bands like Anglagard and Dream Theater unapologetically reviving the complexities of 70s prog traditions and updating their sounds. The second generation of prog was born! and that coupled with digital technology making it infinitely less expensive to produce music and the popularity of the internet to by-pass record company whims was the perfect recipe for old school bands of the 70s to re- emerge from their slumber. HAPPY THE MAN was one of those bands who emerged just a little late in the game in the 70s to really garner a huge following. Their only two studio albums of the 70s came out in 1977 and 78 just when 'Saturday Night Fever' and the Sex Pistols were crashing the party and changing the musical soundscape. The band was, frankly, lucky to achieved what they did at that period but it is a testament to the outstanding musicianship that the band engaged in and it's no wonder they have kept a cult following after all the years that have passed.

Fast forward to the year of 2004 and HAPPY THE MAN finally, at long last, graces the world with a third full-length studio album. Forget all those demo and archival albums ('3rd - Better Late,' 'Death's Crown,' 'Beginnings') which are fine and dandy for collectors but not what i'd call real albums that you can just get lost in. THE MUSE AWAKENS is the real thing that stylistically fits somewhere between the band's 70s studio releases with an updated sound and production that suits the band sound, oh quite well! THE MUSE AWAKENS features only three original members, those being Stanley Whitaker (guitars and vocals), Frank Wyatt (saxes, keyboards and woodwinds) and Rick Kennell (bass). The newbies are David Rosenthal on keyboards and Joe Bergamini on drums and percussion. HTM had the Spinal Tap complex with all three studio albums having different drummers. As far as i know, there were no bizarre gardening accidents or spontaneous combustible moments! One of the first things i noticed is the use of much more prominent guitar making itself heard above the symphonic touches.

The album pretty much continues where the last two left off. The beginning track 'Contemporary Insanity' humorously lets the listeners know that HTM is quite aware of its current timeline and yet opts to anachronistically take us to that point in time in that imaginary universe where 'Crafty Hands' was a huge success and this was the much anticipated followup release. And yes, the energy, the jazz-fusion meets symphonic prog leanings, the syncopated rhythms and time sigs gone wild are all on board dictating to the world that true 70s prog is back and this is no joke. Is this album really good? Well, yes it is! However, it doesn't take long to prove that this album doesn't have a really good flow pattern to it. Starting with the second track which is the title track we get the first of some really slow 'soft' jazz-fusion tracks that as always bring The Weather Report to mind, however at least this one picks up the energy level after a bit. The track is redeemed by its intensity build-up. The one thing that keeps me from giving this album a higher rating are the smooth jazz moments that are counterproductive to the overall feel of the album.

The band can rock like nobody's business but there is a deliberate holdback as found on the mellower tracks like the title track, 'Maui Sunset,' 'Slipstream,' 'Adrift.' I should emphatically state that mellow doesn't mean boring. Tracks like 'Stepping Through Time' are mellow yet awesomely effective in carrying out a successful progressive rock inspired fusion that blows the mind utilizing all the members on boards to create an addictive atmosphere. Tracks like 'Psychedelicatesson' are magical and i truly wish the album was stuffed with these kinds of tracks and my absolute favorite HTM track of all time 'Barking Spiders' which takes their jazz- fusion approach and REALLY marries the rock really make this album worth the price of admission alone including the most guitar oriented track of the band's existence.

Yes, this sounds like a collection of tracks composed through the track of a couple decades and yes, this doesn't flow as nicely as a 'true' organic album should and yes, this may have more mellow tracks than it should, but i am quite enthralled with not only the diversity of the album but by the compositional skills involved and the fact that a 70s band created a really beautiful album that still resonates into the 21st century. Given all the obstacles placed in their way and the fact that this is not the most perfect album that could ever exist, i'm still very pleased with its achievement. When all is said and done, this album has more than enough to deliver to the hardcore HTM fans who were craving the top notch musical deliveries with a pleasing retro feel and musical repertoire that could transport the listener to the classic days of prog albeit the latter tracings. Perhaps a worked for 4 star appreciative effort but after many listens, one that i have found it to be

Review by DangHeck
3 stars Their current bookend leaves me scratching my head at times: Unbalanced at worst

The year is 2004 and Kit Watkins is nowhere in sight (forgive my ignorance; I'm a huge fan of their self-titled, but know little else). He just always struck me as intrinsic to the Happy The Man sound. Funny enough, it's after 1978's Crafty Hands that he leaves! Even so, there was definitely a part of ignorant me that was skeptic. Odd, too, as this is the second of only 2 studio albums available for the band on Spotify (since ever). So, a glimpse at their bookends only? I should likely rectify that--another day.

Right off the bat, the keys, since you see that's so important to me: Frank Wyatt takes up the helm in an apparently more primary position and is joined by one of their then newest members David Rosenthal. No harm, no foul. Their ability is notable from the get-go on the excellent "Contemporary Insanity". What an opener! Showing they still truly have it after all these years.

This wild ride is then interestingly juxtaposed with the very quieted title track, "The Muse Awakens". Lovely and soft, with feeling reeds and very bright, modern drums. A shift occurs around 2:40 in rhythm and vibe. Certainly all for the better. And once again, the highlight is synth soloing. Big fan (the track was solid enough).

Soft padding introduces the next, "Stepping Through Time". Spacy and atmospheric synth lead enters to an almost Eastern effect. Things slowly rise around minute 2, light and airy, but with an optimistic sort of flair. The syncopation that follows is very interesting. The feeling continues to rise and it feels as though the beat picks up a hair as lead guitar floats melodically and jazzy. And then just like Happy The Man to pick things up in an unexpected way. Very satisfying. Always with the compositional knack. Certainly worth a listen for that build.

Ocean waves crash along the beach on "Maui Sunset" and a distant horn initiates the music. A very dreamy song.

A song with a title like "Lunch at the Psychedelicatessen" had better be great, right? In this case, yes! Well, it's a damn solid start, firstly. Got that lovely, free and jazzy quirk. Such a great feel! I guess you could say that it's 'psychedelic' similarly to how Hatfield and the North has, as I would put it, Canterbury quirk. It just keeps getting better and better, too.

And then, it's back on that soft, soft ride with "Slipstream". Another track where it felt like I was waiting for the great thing to happen: not an awesome feeling. It is nearing the 3 minute mark that things do in fact pick up. Fun melody and fun performance. I just wish the whole had this sort of feeling... Especially as it seemed to culminate to that moment only to return to the low and slow of the start.

Then, praise the Lord above for the funky and wild "Barking Spiders" (very Happy the Man sort of title, that)! Such a refresher! Sort of guitar fusion meets light RIO vamping. So, I'm all for it! The guitar, the keys and the quirky percussion throughout: oh yes. Fantastic front to back.

The thing is, once again, this album is giving me strangely anticlimactic whiplash (is that a ding?). "Adrift": once again, a pretty number, but... And like I'm grateful, I guess that they separated these tracks, but to what end?! It goes into "Shadowlites", the first title with vocals?! I almost forgot that Happy The Man usually features vocals haha. Similar, here, to Steve Walsh (Kansas)?... Cool rhythm, for sure. The song was... fine, though. It's also just making me feel, unfortunately, that this album is also perhaps a hair too long. Disappointing, I guess. God, this review is longer and more depressing than I was anticipating...

"Kindred Spirits" is another low and slow, pretty and introspective sort of song to start. Lovely ethereal sort of keys. But... once again, did anything happen throughout? Not really. Well performed, of course, but come on! In comparison, from the beginning, "Il quinto mare" does feel like a significantly better option for a closer than the sad weaknesses throughout, at least. The strings are a nice change, I'd say. Drums are strong and optimistic. Another softer track, end of the day, but at least it has something going on for itself.

Ultimately, unsure how I feel, but I found myself here enjoying ExittheLemming's review from 10+ years ago. I dunno, end of the day. Still love the band. This album was just lacking quite a bit of something.

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 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 i ... (read more)

Report this review (#273260) | Posted by ExittheLemming | Sunday, March 21, 2010 | 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 3, 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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