Exposé Online banner

Happy the Man — Happy the Man
(One Way OW34546, 1977/1999, CD)

Happy the Man — Crafty Hands
(One Way OW34547, 1978/1999, CD)

by Mike McLatchey, Published 1999-11-01

Happy the Man Cover artCrafty Hands Cover art

Readers of Exposé will be more than familiar with this seminal American quintet, as we have given them lavish coverage in these pages. Having been available only intermittently on expensive Japanese editions, it’s about time that we see these domestically. Not only do we get inexpensive American editions, but we also get the Kit Watkins remastering job (as seen previously on Death’s Crown) to add better clarity to the mix. Both of these albums display some of the best, most elaborate and sophisticated symphonic rock ever produced, played by technical geniuses. One of the many reasons is that Kit Watkins was perhaps the most impressive Minimoog player to ever record. While the studio albums don’t quite show the incredibly high levels Kit would reach on the instrument live, they give much more than a hint — witness the fade-out and finale solo on “Carousel” from their debut. It’s true that Happy the Man were influenced by the usual English pioneers, but by this time, beyond music displayed on the posthumous “Beginnings,” the band had created a signature and original statement, one that sounded like no other. The complexity of the music is perhaps the most interesting aspect — Happy the Man incorporated odd timings, counterpoint, polyphony, and polyrhythms, but did so without sacrificing accessibility. The band’s talents are readily apparent in the nimble dexterity of “Stumpy Meets Firecracker in Stencil Forest” and “Knee-Bitten Nymphs in Limbo,” but each and every title is a burst of magic in its own right. In its entirety, one of the best debuts of all time and an essential item.

Crafty Hands seems more polished, yet overall slightly less impressive, due to the more sedate second half. Tracks like the wonderful opener “Service with a Smile” and the brilliant “Steaming Pipes” build on the style they portrayed on the debut, but side 2, starting with “Wind up Doll Day Wind,” has a more refined and lyrical sound that is perhaps less exciting than the first album overall, yet still holding to compositional excellence. Any self-respecting Exposé readers will have these on pre-order, at least in spirit.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 18, 1999 releases, 1977 recordings, 1978 recordings

Related artist(s): Stan Whitaker, Frank Wyatt, Happy the Man, Kit Watkins

Latest news

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Thule - Frostbrent – Frostbrent is the third album by the now three-man Norwegian outfit Thule. Again, here's an album esoteric enough that it could only find its market in the underground progressive scene, yet...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues