"The Muse Awakens" (InsideOut; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Those of you familiar with progressive rock history will certainly know more about Happy The Man than I, but it goes without saying that the band is pretty much in the vein of early Genesis, Yes, and the mellower side of King Crimson. Also, I have often read that Happy The Man is similar to progressive rock greats Gentle Giant, but since I've never heard Gentle Giant I am in no position to comment on that.

I am familiar enough with Happy The Man to know that the bulk of the band's output was produced in the late '70s and early '80s. Since I live in the mid-Atlantic (where the band is currently based) I did manage to see some press about Happy The Man reuniting in the late '90s and playing gigs around the area including conducting rehearsals in the renowned Orion Studios in Baltimore. In 1999, Happy The Man released the "Death's Crown" effort which contained material recorded in the '70s. Five years later the band has returned with a new album of all new music titled "The Muse Awakens" on the InsideOut label.

I can't pretend to be an expert on progressive rock so I'll keep this short and sweet. "The Muse Awakens" is largely an instrumental affair; only one of the album's eleven tracks has vocals. Happy The Man playfully works their virtuoso skills and abilities into extravagant arrangements that are symphonic in style, but not really symphonic in sound. While mellow in its overall approach quite a few numbers are upbeat and contain plenty of rock vibes (see "Barking Spiders" for an example). It is interesting to note that many of us metalheads have probably heard Happy The Man's new keyboardist David Rosenthal from his studio work with Rainbow.

Other albums that I have reviewed that could be loosely grouped together with Happy The Man include Karmakanic and Kaipa.

"The Muse Awakens" was produced and arranged by Happy The Man. The sound is stellar and exquisitely clear.

Happy The Man: Frank Wyatt on saxes, keyboards, and woodwinds, Stanley Whitaker on guitars and vocals, David Rosenthal on keyboards, Rick Kennell on bass, and Joe Bergamini on drums and percussion.

For more information visit http://www.happytheman.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 Oct 2022 15:17:12 -0400.