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SLAPP HAPPY

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Slapp Happy biography
SLAPP HAPPY was a multinational (specifically British/German) Avant-garde pop group consisting of Anthony MOORE (keyboards), Peter BLEGVAD (guitar) and Dagmar KRAUSE (vocals). SLAPP HAPPY was formed in 1972 in Hamburg, Germany by British composer Anthony MOORE. At the time he was recording for Polydor, but was continually frustrated by the more popular direction the label was trying to woe his music. His music was sited as not commercial enough. Venting this frustration he proposed the formation of a pop group with his girlfriend (Dagmar KRAUSE) from Hamburg and an American friend Peter BLEGVAD. So Slapp happy was born. After much disputes and bantering BLEGVAD and MOORE convinced Krause of their inabilities to sing and she step up as their sing. And to this day remains as one of the distinctive characteristics surrounding the band.

In 1972 SLAPP HAPPY recorded their first album 'Sort of' for Polydor (Germany), with the Krautrock group Faust as their backing band. They took a very simplistic and innocence mind set into studio, crafting a primitive pop album complimented beautiful by KRAUSE's pure German tainted voice. Refusing to play live the marketing behind the album provided to low sales of the LP.

Just a year later (1973) they returned to the studios to record their second album 'Casablanca Moon' (which was to be later released as 'Acnalbasac Noom'). After the disappointing commercial success of 'Sort of' Polydor continued to press the band for more pop orientated material and this is what they recorded. MOORE and BLEGVAD composed simple well crafted pop songs, entailing lush melodies and poetic lyrics. Still not impressed with their work Polydor refused to release the album.

The band then left Polydor (for the better) and moved to London where they were quickly snapped up by the Virgin Records label who was looking for more than just another pop band, which fitted SLAPP HAPPY like a glove. Friends FAUST and HENRY COW had already signed deals. They went on to re-record and release 'Casablanca Moon' in 1974 at the Virgin Manor Studios with the helping hand of session musicals. The approach was more designed at Moore and Blegvad true nature of compositional techniques, producing a more complex song design. Here we also see the lyrical themes tending towards the eccentric side of the spectrum, discounting their roots in the commercial pop realms. That year, SLAPP HAPPY went on to be one of Virgin's biggest money earners. The albu...
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Sort of...Sort of...
Import
Blueprint UK 2005
Audio CD$12.80
$6.77 (used)
Casablanca Moon/ Desperate StraightsCasablanca Moon/ Desperate Straights
Import
EMI Import 1993
Audio CD$6.88
$11.37 (used)
Acnalbasac NoomAcnalbasac Noom
Recommended Records 2006
Audio CD$12.34
$10.68 (used)
Live In Japan May 2000Live In Japan May 2000
Import
101 DISTRIBUTION 2009
Audio CD$7.80
$13.30 (used)
Ca VaCa Va
Import
Voiceprint UK 2010
Audio CD$7.79
$8.99 (used)
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SLAPP HAPPY discography


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

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

3.53 | 19 ratings
Sort Of... Slapp Happy
1972
3.60 | 30 ratings
Casablanca Moon
1974
3.82 | 41 ratings
Slapp Happy / Henry Cow: Desperate Straights
1975
2.53 | 13 ratings
Acnalbasac Noom
1980
2.57 | 8 ratings
a Va
1998
3.00 | 3 ratings
Camera
2000

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

4.00 | 2 ratings
Live in Japan
2001

SLAPP HAPPY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

4.00 | 6 ratings
Casablanca Moon / Desperate Straights
1993

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

SLAPP HAPPY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Slapp Happy / Henry Cow: Desperate Straights by SLAPP HAPPY album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.82 | 41 ratings

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Slapp Happy / Henry Cow: Desperate Straights
Slapp Happy RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Slapp Happy's magnificent Desperate Straights, enhanced by Henry Cow volunteering themselves as a backing band, is an excellent counterpoint to the Cow-backed-by-Slapp album In Praise of Learning. Aside from the excellent War, In Praise of Learning was focused mainly on unwelcoming avant-garde soundscapes; here, though, Slapp Happy's more song- based approach reigns supreme, as does a more diverse musical aesthetic. Dagmar Krause turns in a vocal performance that's more diverse than the witchy rants required of her on In Praise of Learning, Peter Blegvad gets a turn on vocals on the frantic summer sensation of Strayed, and the instrumentalists show a deft instinct for when to add an experimental twist to the songs and when to play them straight. Of the two major fruits of the Slapp-Cow collaboration, I'd say this is by far my favourite.

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 Casablanca Moon by SLAPP HAPPY album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.60 | 30 ratings

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Casablanca Moon
Slapp Happy RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Slappy Happy's self-titled album - called Casablanca Moon in some editions - was a rerecording of a harsher, rockier version of more or less the same material (with one song switched out) they'd prepared with the backing of Faust. Whilst I would be interested in hearing that version at some point along the line, at the same time I think the light, jazzy, soft approach taken on this version is interesting in itself, since it really teases out the beautiful, dreamy side side of these quirky, mutant progressive pop numbers.

Prog purists who come to the band via their collaborations with Henry Cow may find this a bit accessible for their tastes, but I don't think this rerecording is necessarily the case of "record company steamrollers artistic integrity" it's made out to be; after all, even this version of the album is hardly slick and commercial, and it fits neatly into the precedent set by the earlier Sort Of - indeed, it represents a polishing and honing of the approach of that album into a bona fide masterpiece.

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 Sort Of... Slapp Happy  by SLAPP HAPPY album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.53 | 19 ratings

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Sort Of... Slapp Happy
Slapp Happy RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Produced long before Slapp Happy crossed paths with Henry Cow to make thorny, avant-garde RIO material, their debut album Sort Of is still interesting as a brace of delightful art-pop tracks. Taking an eccentric approach to the sort of jangle pop singer-songwriter material in vogue at the time, and mixing up the lead vocals between Dagmar Krause, Peter Blegvad and Anthony Moore to avoid one contributor being inadvertently seen as the band leader, it's a delightful bit of subversive pop. RIO fans expecting something along the lines of In Praise of Learning may find themselves disappointed - gosh, they're even trying to sound accessible and enjoyable! - but most listeners approaching with an open mind may find there's hidden depths here.

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 Slapp Happy / Henry Cow: Desperate Straights by SLAPP HAPPY album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.82 | 41 ratings

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Slapp Happy / Henry Cow: Desperate Straights
Slapp Happy RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Absorbing the egghead Rock in Opposition of HENRY COW must have been as much of a challenge for the Slapp Happy trio as it likely was for their fans. But, like the hats they sing about in the opening track here, this was clearly a band aspiring to higher things.

Slapp Happy with Henry Cow was a more lighthearted ensemble than Henry Cow with Slapp Happy (see: 'In Praise of Learning'), almost as if the parent band set the agenda for the project at hand. This first collaboration (by a matter of weeks) still shows a lingering influence from Slapp Happy's earlier Krautrock associations. Listen to the simple yet insistent beat of 'A Worm at Work', or the sideshow circus melody of 'Apes in Capes', and tell me that a little bit of FAUST didn't rub off on the group, in particular the eccentric song collages of 'The Faust Tapes', released two years earlier.

Meanwhile the album wanders happily all over the avant-rock map. Songs like 'Riding Tigers' are almost (but not quite) Rock 'n' Roll, while the title track resembles a semi-Jazz Fusion orchestration of a minor Erik Satie objet d'art. But the thorny rhythms of 'Bad Alchemy' are pure Henry Cow; ditto the 8-minute epic 'Caucasian Lullaby' (well, it's an epic by Slapp Happy standards, anyway). The latter track closes the album on a repeated variation of near-ambient ascending scales, sounding like one of the Cow's more bovine improvisations, although I suspect it was all carefully notated throughout.

It also proves to be an exception to the very succinct organization of music. None of the remaining songs is allowed to outstay its welcome by more than a few stray seconds, and most of them clock in around the two-minute range: in 1975 the antithesis of Prog Rock scale and ambition. The very brevity of each selection, and of the album itself, may prompt newcomers to undervalue it, but don't be fooled: the music here is as demanding as it is playful, and all the more valuable for embracing both ends of that spectrum.

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 Casablanca Moon by SLAPP HAPPY album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.60 | 30 ratings

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Casablanca Moon
Slapp Happy RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

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

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

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

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

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

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 Sort Of... Slapp Happy  by SLAPP HAPPY album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.53 | 19 ratings

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Sort Of... Slapp Happy
Slapp Happy RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

4 stars Woodstock Berlin

Maybe due to the band's unwillingness to promote this album with live gigs and everything else one would assume goes hand in hand with a music career, - Slapp Happy remained somewhat obscure at the time of this release. It's kinda sad, especially when you start to listen to this riveting and unassuming debut album simply called Sort Of......Slapp Happy. The meaning behind the title escapes this listener, but what does shine through in the most charming way, is the feet thumping, psychedelic whiskey shooting straightforwardness of this thing. Sure, you probably saw the RIO avant sticker applied here on PA, and thought to yourself: "Ahhh it's one of those unlistenable albums with people playing drainpipes and castrated frogs.... Count me out!" - upon running screaming in the opposite direction. Such thinking is pure madness though, and if anybody out there is reading this review and maybe even feels on the fence about this sort of music - or just think they've pigeon-holed the entire genre by listening to a couple of albums from Zappa and Henry Cow, I urge you to take a chance with Sort Of. It could well be your introduction into a world of shiny things with teeth.

Having said that, you could be lead into thinking otherwise, as Sort Of sports a couple of big hitters inside the more experimental side of rock music. 3 members from Faust lend a helping hand in this recording - and you also meet a young Peter Blegvad who back then sounded far more occupied with dirty gritty hard rock, than what he later got associated with. Finally there's the tiny pixie named Dagmar Krause, who sings like a female version of David Surkamp. Allrighty then....

The thing is - this debut is far from being an avant garde release. It's only in the details you hear traces of what was to come. The Faust input feels strangely in line with the surrounding psychedelic blues rock n' folk style, and if I didn't know any better, I'd say it sounded like a quirkier Big Brother with Janis singing from the insides of a helium bubble.

The crunching spillonking guitar antics of Peter Blegvad are what's running things here. Often coming off as a distorted blues man, he propels this venture forward with a steadfast easy digestible Chuck Berry lick. Much of what you hear wouldn't feel out of place in a Woodstock setting, where the rhythm n' blues framework got stretched to fit whatever agenda put on the menu, whether that was the Latino spicings of Santana or the hippedi hop pop of Sha-na-na. On here, you are faced with the German lineage of the blues. What the Amon Duuls proposed to do with it - that underground gelatinous raw blues feel, even if you won't find much in the way of free-form composition or amazing LSD freak-outs on Sort Of. The sound is very much an echo of the psychedelic blues rock happening in the late 60s.

It's first when you dig a little deeper that you start to hear those quirky bits. The side of the record that screams for unorthodox measures and iron fisted koalas. Like I mentioned earlier, it is indeed a subtle shading to the proceedings, but it helps pull the album up from the everyday blubber of 1970s blues rock. It's in the spastic percussion touches that continue to embellish the music throughout the album. Something that Faust were masters at. Just hearing the drums on some of these tracks makes me think of the wilder side of Ginger Baker. Keeping a straight beat without implementing the high hat or snare drum like they were meant to is a very hard thing to do - especially when the track you're supposed to be backing is a rockabilly tune with a severe need of a 1 and 4. Yet on here it works, and does so beautifully and with refined subtlety. What? We're talking about Faust here - aren't we?!?!?!

This is what sets the album apart from other such psychedelic blues rock affairs of the time: unusual backing ornamentations like a twittering saxophone, bar-room piano, mumbling snuffling percussions, unorthodox drumming and the unique vocals of Madame Krause. For those of you who've heard horror stories about this woman's vocal chords, don't believe any of it! She's as charismatic and powerful as she is integral to this band's sound. The minuscule traces of German accent that lie at the tail-end of her phrasings are abnormally beautiful, and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way, and just so you know: I usually despise accented vocals. Furthermore, she doesn't even sing that much on this debut. Blegvad belts out his booming blues voice just as frequently, and the flip flopping effect of the Minnie Mouse tinged psychedelics of Krause and the big meaty elk booms from Blegvad match perfectly the music surrounding them.

Sort Of is far away from being representative of this band's future career, but it is a wonderful meeting between the States and Europe. This is where the blues fuelled psych rock dances with the quirkier side of the European avant garde eccentricities, yet without ever loosing it's natural heritage.

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 Slapp Happy / Henry Cow: Desperate Straights by SLAPP HAPPY album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.82 | 41 ratings

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Slapp Happy / Henry Cow: Desperate Straights
Slapp Happy RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Since their previous album (Casablanca Moon) Slapp Happy united with Henry Cow, the result of which is this album. Strangely, even though the songs are less accessible than in Casablanca Moon, they are generally short - ranging from just under 2 minutes to just over 3.

The change in style is immediately apparent from the first track. Dagmar's singing style has changed a lot - her singing actually makes me think of a witch, but in a good, interesting way. The style has changed from being as melodic to a lot more experimental, leading to the use of odd chord progressions and rhythms. To my ears, this is a welcome change, for while Casablanca Moon was enjoyable, it was rarely exciting. On this album, there is a lot more interesting things going on, and a total of 11 really interesting tracks.

Unfortunately, there are two tracks on this album that kind of mess with the flow, each being longer than the other tracks and each being an instrumental. The first is the title track, Desperate Straights, which eventually settles on a rather un-interesting segment of music, which it then repeats for a while before fading out. It feels like it was not properly fleshed out. The other is the last track, Caucasion Lullaby, which I think actually creates a really cool, eerie atmosphere - it just doesn't sit well with the rest of the album.

Despite these two tracks, this is definitely an enjoyable album, and a step up from their previous. Unfortunately, this would be the last album that the band would record until the late '90s (although they would all participate on Henry Cows next album).

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 Casablanca Moon by SLAPP HAPPY album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.60 | 30 ratings

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Casablanca Moon
Slapp Happy RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TheGazzardian
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The band had already actually recorded this album once, but their record label refused to release it because they didn't think it had wide enough appeal. So when Slapp Happy found a new record deal, they recorded this, perhaps the first time ever a band has written a cover album that includes only covers of songs they had already recorded but that no one else had heard.

The original recording had been an attempt at being pop-like, and you can tell listening to this recording. The music is in general good, although a few songs are a bit too repetitive (like Half Way There). The songs range from around 3 to around 4 minutes, so they're pretty consistent in length.

Strings accompany the band on a few songs (like the opening track), and there are occasional weird noise as well, but the stand out feature of this album are the unique vocals of Dagmar Krause. She has a lot of charm and just the perfect amount of edge to give the music a unique sound.

My favorite tracks are the first (Casablanca Moon) and a couple near the end (The Drum (great feel, makes me think of a bunch of friends hanging out around a drum), Haiku (one of the few songs utilising male vocals)), but in the middle there is little that really excites me. It's very rarely dull, so it kind of sits at "pleasant but forgettable" for a lot of the album.

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 Acnalbasac Noom by SLAPP HAPPY album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.53 | 13 ratings

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Acnalbasac Noom
Slapp Happy RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

2 stars I've tried to like this album, I really have. And although I sometimes find Dagmar Krause and her sometimes shrill vocals to be a detriment, she actually sounds good on the album, so she wasn't the problem. The problem is that this album just isn't very interesting. I understand the roots of the band, and expected something more avant garde than this. What we have here are slightly inventive pop songs. The addition of the members of Faust doesn't help either.

Of the original eleven songs on the album, the only one that draws me in is Casablanca Moon. With it's cool lyrics and jazzy rhythm, it's a good song. But it's not avant garde either.

The four bonus tracks are even less interesting. It sound on these that Slapp Happy was trying to imitate the style of Deborah Harry and Blondie. Blah.

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 a Va by SLAPP HAPPY album cover Studio Album, 1998
2.57 | 8 ratings

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a Va
Slapp Happy RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Rune2000
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

2 stars Comeback albums are usually not as bad as the general opinion might imply. In most of the cases it's all because of the high expectations that fans have on albums that are released after a lengthy hiatus. If there is anything that manage to prove its quality with each passing year then its the comeback/reunion albums.

A twenty year hiatus is a long time no matter how well it was spent. It was evident from the get-go that Slapp Happy just wouldn't sound like the band that they were back in the '70s. The glory days and acoustic rendezvous have now been replaced by a digital studio that lets their artists produce a layered sounds, but what about the experience? Well, it's sort of here. For once, the band members actually play all the instruments themselves, but this production puts all of that discussion aside since you won't find many untampered instrumental moments here.

a Va gives its listeners a slick production sound that can appropriately be compared to Pink Floyd, which isn't that surprising if you consider Anthony Moore's work a few years prior to this release Unfortunately, just like the two final Pink Floyd albums, this release hasn't aged as gracefully as it was intended to. Songs like Scarred For Life or Different Lie make little connection to Slapp Happy of the past since this album sounds more like a Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds record from around that same time, than a brilliant Art Rock collective.

The final track, titled Hello Dagi, definitely drives the last spike into this highly unsatisfying release that only makes me want to revisit the band's superior past. I guess that this music will appeal to a wider audience, but there's just too much of a 'been here done there'-factor that overshadows this whole project.

**** star songs: Scarred For Life (3:20) Child Then (4:18) Powerful Stuff (4:14) Different Lie (4:07) Working At The Ministry (4:54) Let's Travel Light (3:42)

*** star songs: Moon Lovers (3:01) Is It You? (5:07) King Of Straw (3:14) Coralie (3:53) Silent The Voice (4:05) Unborn Byron (3:18)

** star songs: Hello Dagi (4:51)

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Thanks to Black Velvet for the artist addition. and to Rune2000 for the last updates

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