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Happy The Man - Happy the Man CD (album) cover


Happy The Man


Eclectic Prog

3.86 | 228 ratings

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2 stars For two reasons, I place Happy the Man's debut closer to the Canterbury genre than anything else: the quirky track titles, and the jazz inflections all over the place. They hailed from the US mid Atlantic states yet sounded completely unAmerican in their style of prog even for the time. As if they knew that the prog movement had already come and gone by 1976, HTM eschewed commercial intent, instead simply playing their saxes and electric keyboards to odd time signatures and virtually dispensing with vocals. Yet the presence of acclaimed producer Ken Scott might imply a market interest, or maybe just deep pockets and perfectionism.

While Happy the Man doesn't sound blatantly like anyone else - there are Genesis and minimalist Mike Oldfield references, they don't sound all that fresh or unique either, and they don't stir me much. By this time, the quick tempo shifts and utter disregard for the mainstream audience was a well worn path and was in fact passe. Yet if they could be said to have influenced anyone, it would be the "I Can see your House from Here" era of Camel, not surprisingly since Kit Watkins has a very distinctive keyboard style and played on both albums. The strongest tracks are the dreamy opener "Starborne", the perkily catchy "Knee Bitten Nymphs in Limbo", and the smooth jazzy "Hidden Moods". While upbeat moments are not uncommon on the disk, it does tend to the mellow side of its various genres, if you will. The two vocal oriented tracks are both decent but not more.

I am torn between 2 and 3 stars but the lack of much really exciting music or emotion within doesn't make me a happy enough man to be overly generous.

kenethlevine | 2/5 |


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