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HAPPY THE MAN

Eclectic Prog • United States


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Happy The Man biography
One of the finest American prog bands. Completely out of the american standards, HAPPY THE MAN combined lush melodies, great complex interplay and a slightly jazzy touch with occasional vocals. The band claims to be influenced by GENESIS, Yes, and GENTLE GIANT although they really do not sound anything like any of those bands.

Their first two albums, the self titled "Happy the Man" and "Crafty Hands" (almost entirely instrumental) are classic albums of the highest order, and are considered by the band to be the definitive releases in their catalogue. These are must haves. A reference point in the 70's US prog scene!

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HAPPY THE MAN shows & tickets


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HAPPY THE MAN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

HAPPY THE MAN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.82 | 116 ratings
Happy the Man
1977
3.82 | 135 ratings
Crafty Hands
1978
3.46 | 60 ratings
Better Late...
1979
2.95 | 41 ratings
Beginnings
1990
3.51 | 46 ratings
Death's Crown
1999
3.53 | 80 ratings
The Muse Awakens
2004

HAPPY THE MAN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.82 | 18 ratings
Live
1997

HAPPY THE MAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

HAPPY THE MAN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.86 | 11 ratings
Retrospective
1989

HAPPY THE MAN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Service With A Smile
1978

HAPPY THE MAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Happy the Man by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.82 | 116 ratings

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Happy the Man
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

4 stars By mid-70's Cliff Fortney had left Happy The Man because of his stagefright and technical inability and he was replaced by singer Dan Owen, while flute parts were handled by Kit Watkins.Owen spent about 8 months with the band and during his time the ''Death's Crown'' suite was recorded in the band's rehearsal room.After Owen quit in 1975, the rest of the crew decided to move on as a quintet.Happy The Man attracted the interest of Peter Gabriel, who was searching for a backing group after his departure from Genesis and, although this collaboration did not work, this was enough to increase Happy The Man's popularity.They were eventually signed by Arista in a 5-year recording deal and recorded their debut at A&M Studios towards the end of 1976, supported by the production value of Ken Scott, who had worked with The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Supertramp and David Bowie.In 1977 the official debut of Happy The Man sees the light.

''Happy the Man'' was there to unite two different worlds.The one was the complex and intricate Progressive Rock of early 70's with GENTLE GIANT and VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR references, a style totally out of fashion around the time.The other was a style by a Prog band heading to the next decade, smoother, more melodic and atmospheric, with pronounced use of synthesizers and elegant passages, which however contained lots of adventurous themes.The most surprising thing about the group was their ability to follow dense, virtuosic interplays with more delicate, harmonic passages in a very tight combination, revealing tons of composing talent.Their style included influences from Jazz and Fusion, dominated by Frank Wyatt's incredible sax work, the quirky keyboard parts of both Wyatt and Watkins and the consistent rhythm section of Beck and Kennell.They did have also a strong Classical character at moments with piano interludes and symphonic keyboards in the forefront, building structures for the upcoming rich instrumental lines.Happy The Man's introduction was music with unexpected twists, amazing interactions between the instrumentalists, powerful breaks and romantic soundscapes with mellow keyboards.The result is often astonishing with GENTLE GIANT being the main influence minus the Medieval vibes, a beautiful surprise in a scene that was fading around the time.

The early rehearsals of Happy The Man eventually developed into a fascinating, bombastic listening experience with a fresh attitude.Consistent Symphonic/Jazz Rock with both fiery and calm instrumental material, really a pure delight.Absolutely recommended.

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 The Muse Awakens    by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.53 | 80 ratings

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The Muse Awakens
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

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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 The Muse Awakens    by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.53 | 80 ratings

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The Muse Awakens
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

Review by sinslice

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 the same paths. While the music is entirely instrumental, sometimes there is excessive synthesizer solos. Barking Spiders displayed more energy in a jazzy style, with rock sections. Adrift on the other hand, is led by sax and gentler. Shadowlites is the only song sung by Stanley Whitaker, quiet, no big deal. The last mention is for the piece that closes the work, and the largest, Il Quinto Mare. It spans a very good landscape mode described above, with good job of piano, keyboards and guitar, with good arrangements. As always write; depends on the music you want to hear, is a good choice for anyone who enjoys this type of music sometimes. I do.

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 Crafty Hands by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.82 | 135 ratings

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Crafty Hands
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

Review by Jojowarren

4 stars A solid follow-up to Happy the Man's masterpiece debut. While this album only has one track with vocals, compared to the previous album's two, it doesn't feel tiresome to listen to as one would expect from an almost entirely instrumental album. Crafty Hands only falls short of its predecessor in that the tracks are more repetitive and less wild with the musicianship, speaking of course about tracks like Knee-Bitten Nymphs In Limbo, the likes of which are absent here.

Still, Happy the Man succeeds in bringing back the sound of the first album while exploring enough new ground on Service With a Smile, Wind Up Doll Day Wind, and Open Book. There aren't any truly weak tracks; it just lacks one that's completely off the charts. Shorter, softer, and less ambitious than before, but still an album that's worthwhile for any prog collection.

Service With a Smile: 9/10 Morning Sun: 7/10 Ibby It Is: 8/10 Steaming Pipes: 7/10 Wind Up Doll Day Wind: 8/10 Open Book: 9/10 I Forgot To Push It: 8/10 The Moon, I Sing (Nossuri): 7/10

Total: 8/10

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 Happy the Man by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.82 | 116 ratings

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Happy the Man
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

Review by Jojowarren

5 stars Colorful, Camel-esque space-prog with lots of character.

This is a totally underrated album, as a band's debut this is simply astounding and I wish more people were aware of it! I'm glad to have discovered this rare gem. This is probably the only space-rock (if we must call it that) I've been able to appreciate, as it fills its passages with plenty of time changes, colorful keyboards, and beautiful melodies. Vocals only appear on two tracks, and are actually quite good. I would most compare this album to Camel's Moonmadness.

Starborne: 7/10 Stumpy Meets The Firecracker In Stencil Forest: 9/10 Upon The Rainbow (Befrost): 9/10 Mr. Mirror's Reflections On Dreams: 8/10 Carousel: 6/10 Knee Bitten Nymphs In Limbo: 9/10 On Time As A Helox Of Precious Laughs: 6/10 Hidden Moods: 7/10 New York Dream's Suite: 8/10 Total: 8/10, a great debut.

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 Beginnings by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 1990
2.95 | 41 ratings

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Beginnings
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The history of this legendary US group started in 1972, when guitarist Stanley Whitaker and bassist Rick Kennell met in Germany and shared the same admiration for British Progressive Rock.Whitaker was back in USA by the next year and Kennell, who remained in German grounds for a while, introduced him two of his former bandmates, drummer Mike Beck and singer/flautist Cliff Fortney.The original keyboardists were David Bach and Frank Wyatt, the first was soon to be replaced by Kit Watkins.So Happy The Man were born and in 1974 Kennell was back to USA as well with the band starting full rehearsals.Material from this early 1974-1975 period was released in 1990 under the title ''Beginnings'' by Cuneiform.

The love of HAPPY THE MAN for early British Prog is apparent in every track and actually Whitaker and Kennell were both great fans of KING CRIMSON, GENESIS and VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR.Noy surprisingy at all these are the main influences dominating the band's early sound with original singer Cliff Fortney sounding a lot like PETER HAMMILL and, to lesser extent, like PETER GABRIEL.The tracks are quite long with plenty of space for nice psychedelic instrumentals, elaborate symphonic arrangements along with a light jazzy breeze.Happy The Man's early sound lacks any kind of full-blown musicianship and the band was focusing on creating dreamy and atmospheric soundscapes, both in vocal and instrumental parts, with nice use of organ, sax and electric piano in the vein of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR along with floating synth parts, delicate flute passages and melodic guitar solos in the vein of GENESIS.But a ton of a talent could not been that easily hidden, so there are also plenty of moments, where the sound becomes trully rich with some cool complex themes, highlighted by a VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR/KING CRIMSON-ian atmosphere with bombastic sax and organ interplays next to demanding keyboard flights and more adventurous guitar hooks.The result was a band with numerous interesting ideas but far from creating their unique personality.

It can get more Classic Prog-styled than this.Of course it is not HAPPY THE MAN's greatest release or, even more, very far from original, but is it a beautiful archival release with a full hour of previously unreleased material of the band's early days and fans of Classic Prog in the vein of the aforementioned legends should track this down.Warmly recommended.

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 The Muse Awakens    by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.53 | 80 ratings

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The Muse Awakens
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

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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 Better Late... by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.46 | 60 ratings

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Better Late...
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars It's my understanding that this is, strictly speaking, another Cuneiform archival release from Happy the Man rather than a finished product. The band had produced some demo tapes for their third album - of rather finer quality than those collected on the other archival releases, presumably thanks to their increased studio experience - when their record label unceremoniously dumped them, and then Kit Watkins quit to join Camel and the band dissolved. What is presented here, then, is a cleaned up version of those demo tapes, though they're of a sufficient standard to help work out how the followup to Crafty Hands might have sounded.

And it's also enough to tell that the band were in a severe creative rut at the time. Even accounting for the fact that these are demos, these are some of the most lifeless and apathetic tracks I've heard from the group - a major step down from the preceding classic album. Worst song of the lot has to be The Falcon, mainly because it's another example of the band refusing to admit that they just don't do vocals that well. Perhaps it would have been better had this stayed in the vaults. Perhaps it's best to be glad we had Crafty Hands from these guys and let their less distinguished works fade into obscurity.

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 Crafty Hands by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.82 | 135 ratings

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Crafty Hands
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Happy the Man's masterpiece takes their unique style to new levels of achievement, at points reminiscent of a blend between the complexity and occasional medieval embellishments of Gentle Giant and the soothing, melodic beauty of Camel circa The Snow Goose. On each of the album's instrumentals (and on the sole vocal track of the release, Wind Up Doll Day Wind) the band's capacity to evoke an atmosphere and remain accessible and catchy even when presenting their most challenging material constantly impresses me. A superb album from a band who came too late to the scene to get widespread attention at the time of release; it's one of those albums for which I'm heavily indebted to the Internet for bringing to my attention.

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 Happy the Man by HAPPY THE MAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.82 | 116 ratings

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Happy the Man
Happy The Man Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Orders of magnitude more original than the early material collected in Beginnings and Death's Crown, Happy the Man's self-titled debut album is a prog tour de force, showcasing a style that seamlessly balances accessibility with outbreaks of progressive complexity. It's hard to find many prior bands to compare their sound to, but at points the music suggests the more accessible direction that Camel were groping for at around the same time (which makes Kit Watkins' later tenure as Camel keyboardist make a lot of sense). Fans of relaxing, melodic progressive rock will find a lot to love in this masterful album.

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Thanks to Ivan Melgar M for the artist addition.

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