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Audio CD, November 1, 2004
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One of the top American prog rock bands of the late 1970s, Happy The Man took cues from Yes, Gentle Giant and Genesis, all the while maintaining their individual stylistic approach to songwriting. Wrought with shifting meters and unusual chord progressions, they stealthily merged prog, symphonic rock and early new age music with incredible ease and impeccable craftsmanship.
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I caught on late to this band and am sorry that era of music is still not heard as much-( with the death of Keith Emerson) it signals possibly the end of such wonderful efforts.
With no words, or longer song structures to elicit any emotional response, or involvement, you end up with a bunch of four to five minute musical "snippets" that really do not go anywhere or take the listener anywhere. It is really quite boring.
Few bands can pull off the short instrumental, and compose an entire CD of them. The Dixie Dregs, come to mind as a band that can!
I am not criticizing their musicianship by any means. They are fine musicians. But for those of us who like our progressive music with a little more depth, we need to approach HTM with caution.
I am giving this CD two stars because of the musicianship and the one song, "Shadowlites" is actually quite good. I am not rating it any higher to serve as a warning to those who, like me, think they may be buying true progressive music. You are not, you are buying "progressive lite".
Rosenthal emulates Watkins beautifully. I am really surprised how much he can sound like Kit - yet at times he manages to bring in his own sound as well. You can definitely notice Kit's absence as a composer - however, Rosenthal, Wyatt and Whitaker lay down some amazing stuff here.
My one criticism of this disc? It is recorded too bright. Too "digital" sounding. Too harsh. No warmth. And you can tell it really lacks bass when you get to the track "Shadowlites," one of my favorites. The remasters of the first two releases, which obviously were recorded analog, have better sound quality.
Other favorites include The Muse Awakens, Stepping Through Time, Maui Sunset, Barking spiders, Kindred Spirits ... they're all good, actually. A real feast for the ears and the intellect. It still gets five stars from me even though the recording is icy cold.