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3rd: Better Late....

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Album Review

3rd: Better Late... came out 11 years after these demo recordings were made, hence the second part of the album's title. As for the first part, these home sessions were conducted to put Happy the Man's third LP into pre-production. In the meantime, punk and disco discouraged record labels to pursue their contracts with progressive rock bands and Arista Records dropped the group. If the tapes are crude at times (some hiss, some distortion), sound quality is maintained at a respectable level. This is not the band's best material, but then again, it might have evolved before reaching the final stage — a piece or two might even have been dropped. Still, it makes a worthy follow-up to Crafty Hands. The writing remains complex, polyphonic, counterpuntal. There is a bit more fusion than before. Tracks like "The Falcon," "Who's in Charge Here?," and "Shadow Shaping" (the latter very Gentle Giant-esque) are genuine Happy the Man. New drummer Coco Roussel (also featured on the Cuneiform release Live) brings more subtle percussion work, while Kit Watkins and Stanley Whitaker play better than ever. Don't get turned off by the discouraging artwork: this is strong Happy the Man material, even though newcomers should begin with the band's two original albums. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Brilliant Third Album From A Brilliant Band

It was a crime that Arista did not pick up Happy The Man for a third album. It is simply brilliant with some incredibly haunting and poignant tunes.

"The Falcon" is a foundational, archetypal song for our age of mankind. I know of no song that says it better or with more compassion, beauty or urgency. It is required listening for everyone alive. It is the prescription to cure mankind's greatest ills.

All of the tunes (but one: The yawner "Who's in Charge Here") have distinct and wonderful melodies and rhythms. After all these decades, I am amazed how many of these tunes still haunt my head as soundtracks to daily life. The biggest stand out is 'Labyrinth' by Kit Watkins. After the band broke up, Watkins re-recorded 'Labyrinth' as the title track of one of his remarkably solo albums. But THIS is the definitive version of the tune.

The one aspect of Happy The Man that people find difficult to enjoy are the occasional vocals by guitarist Stanley Whitaker. All I can say is: Get over it. Stanley wrote remarkable lyrics and sang to the best of his ability, which was certainly above the average singer.

BTW: One weird thing regarding this album and the quirky iTunes Store: You'll be charged for EACH song on this album. Thankfully, the sum total equals the cost of the full album. If you want to save 99¢, buy all the tracks except "Who's in Charge Here".

Quintessential Happy the Man

This is a good album but I have one question. Where are their first two albums that were released on Arista records? I'm sure fans of this band would love to see these released here.


Formed: 1972

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Often compared to Yes for their melodicism and Gentle Giant for the complexity of their compositions, Happy the Man added their own high-caliber musicianship, a sense of symphonic drama, odd time signatures, spacy sound, and occasional whimsy to their brand of progressive rock. Although their largely instrumental oeuvre was rather inconsistent, Happy the Man still carry a devoted following on the prog rock collectors' circuit. The group was formed in 1974, and during the '70s featured keyboardist...
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3rd: Better Late...., Happy the Man
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