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Happy The Man - Better Late... CD (album) cover


Happy The Man


Eclectic Prog

3.49 | 107 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars For a relative youngster in the prog world its always a mystery that Happy The Man remains relatively unknown compared to bands like Genesis, Camel, and Focus. Instrumentation is smooth, jazzy, un-showy but pleasing and interesting compositions. Every member is a gifted musician, and work together very well. They remind me more of early Focus on this album then anyone else in style, sort of a laid back yet mesmerizing sound which is especially pleasant when reading. Happy The Man did a very good job of the album, and I'm probably right in assuming all fans were very pleased with the release. It truly is better to be late then never.

On this album Happy The Man sounds similar to many early prog giants. "Eye of The Storm" is jazz fusiony, and sounds like it could be on "Focus 3" . "At The Edge Of This Thought" is very similar to post-mirage camel symphonic and very pretty. "Footwork" reminds me of Genesis, pomp and almost silly yet engaging. Happy The Man even reminds me of "Gentle Giant" with "Run into the ground" which is a very aggressive and complex prog rock song.

For an album that was originally a home recording, the production is excellent. The instruments are all very clear, and what little hiss there is does not drown out any of it. It also has the advantage of not being overproduced to the point where the song looses much of its character and originality, which was the fate of many other prog recordings of that time. The album has an amazing uplifting attitude and is pleasant to listen to at any time, if your in a good mood it will complement it perfectly, and if your stricken with depression you will probably come out of the album with a smile on your face. Every song is well written, and have a nice level of complexity and there is a good variety of sounds.

The biggest problem with the album is that the songs don't seem to fit with one another. I feel like I'm listening to a compellation of unreleased material more than an album. The sheer level of quality of the songs bring it up to standard however. I found the vocals took a little getting used to, the lyrics are good (with the exception of "The Falcon" which ends up coming off as childish, it seems to me these were written in a period of maybe 15 minutes and tacked on). Stanley Whitaker has a pretty voice and a good tone, but he's completely devoid of any range. His most impressive pitch changes (which fail to impress completely) are on "Shadow Shaping" where he almost sounds like he isn't some sort of synthesizer with only one note.

The high points of the album are "While Chrome Yellow Shine" which at the moment is among my most listened to songs. Which has a very good build up and excellent synth washes. Another height is "Labyrinth" which proves that even the gentlest of prog bands can play something hard hitting enough to raise the hairs on your arm. The worst song would have to be "The Falcon" which is a above average song, just the lyrics are silly to the point where it may ruin your perception of the song.

Overall the album is an excellent collection of songs, I would normally rate it 3.5 stars and round it down to three. This is a progressive rock site however, and this album encompasses all the most engaging aspects of early symphonic rock and touches on the more mellow aspects of jazz fusion. If your a serious prog collector, your bound to enjoy it. A must for fans of Focus' "Focus 3".

Hangedman | 4/5 |


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