Happy the Man

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Live Review

by Fran├žois Couture

One can only salute the effort Cuneiform Records has put over the years in finding and releasing lost material by Happy the Man, one of the most interesting American progressive rock bands active in the '70s. Live has been put together from two tapes, a show at The Cellar Door (Washington, D.C.) on July 1, 1978 and another at Louie's Rock City (Falls Church, VA) on October 8 of the same year. In the middle of 1978, Happy the Man were at their creative peak, having released their two albums for Arista Records. These two live performances capture them as they shone on-stage in front of a small but very enthusiastic audience. Live includes inspired versions of Happy the Man's best tunes such as the short but energy-packed "Service with a Smile," the complex "Ibby It Is" and classics like "Steaming Pipes" and "Mr. Mirror's Reflection on Dreams." The set list also includes a few surprises, like "Open Book," a reworking from a part of the then-unreleased suite "Death's Crown" (Cuneiform would release a rehearsal recording of this suite on Death's Crown in 1999). Sound quality is very average (the CD lacks power in the lower register), but this being the only live recording of Happy the Man legitimately available, one should not pass over it.

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