Happy The Man - Death's Crown

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Cuneiform Records
Catalog Number: 55015
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:45:00

Inspired by the title of a Genesis song* these Americans have only released a handful of albums since their start in 1972. For years, fans of this band had it pretty difficult trying to locate the band's output, until the arrival of CDs that is. In the American history of pop, Happy The Man is still regarded as being the country's absolute highlight where progressive rock is concerned. Record label Arista gave these guys the chance to record an album with Supertramp producer Ken Scott. Sadly neither Happy The Man nor Crafty Hands made an impact, so the talent of the collective was given the boot by Arista HQ.

By means of independent labels, the unreleased third album Better Late as well as the band's first "dwellings" Beginnings and a live recording were made available to the public. However, very few people know that the band recorded an entire concept way back in '74, Death's Crown. It was a gigantic tour de force with dancers, actors, slides and a special lightshow. This "multi-media" event was once performed live but never recorded. Not so long ago, under thick layers of dust, people found a recording of a rehearsal for this prestigious concept.

Still built around the nucleus of the inseparable foursome of Stanley Whitaker on guitar, Rick Kennell on bass, and both keyboard players Kit Watkins and Frank Wyatt, here they are augmented by vocalist Dan Owen and drummer Mike Beck. The music of Happy the Man is truly to be called unique all the way. Especially the interaction between keyboards, together with the occasional use of saxophone and flute results in an original, unequalled sound. The suite "Death's Crown" clocks in at a mere 38 minutes, being the result of eleven separate fragments. The album is augmented by "New York Dreams Suite" and "Merlin Of The High Places" both written by Frank Wyatt. Certainly the ultimate piece in the interesting Happy the Man jigsaw.

[* Though according to the Happy The Man site, the name was derived from Goethe's Faust and the bible and not the Genesis track, but no doubt both bands have a least one source the same - ed.]

Death's Crown (38:00) / New York Dream's Suite (8:45) / Merlin Of The High Places (7:10)

Dan Owen -vocals, classical guitar, percussion, bass
Kit Watkins -organ, moog, string ensemble, clavinet, flute, recorder, sound effects
Stanley Whitaker -guitars, recorder
Mike Beck -percussion
Rick Kennell -bass
Frank Wyatt -electric piano, vocals

Happy The Man (1977)
Crafty Hands (1978)
Better Late... (1983)
Beginnings (1990)
Live (1997)
Death's Crown (1999)
The Muse Awakens (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: July 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.happytheman.com
Hits: 1174
Language: english


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