Saturday, March 5, 2016

Slapp Happy - 1974 - Slapp Happy

Slapp Happy
Slapp Happy

01. Casablanca Moon (2:49)
02. Me and Paravati (3:25)
03. Half-Way There (3:18)
04. Michaelangelo (2:36)
05. Dawn (3:21)
06. Mr. Rainbow (3:52)
07. Secret (3:31)
08. Little Something (4:35)
09. Drum (3:35)
10. Haiku (3:05)
11. Slow Moon's Rose (2:55)

Line-up / Musicians
- Anthony Moore / keyboards
- Peter Blegvad / second vocals
- Dagmar Krause / lead vocals

Guest musicians:
- Marc Singer / drums
- Dave Wintour / bass guitar
- Graham Preskett / violin, mandolin
- Roger Wootton / backing vocals
- Eddie Sparrow / drums, congas, whistles
- Jean Herré Peron / bass guitar
- Clare Deniz / cello
- Nick Worters / double bass
- Jeremy Baines / sausage bassoon
- Andy Leggett / jugs
- Clem Cattini / drums
- Henry Lowther / trumpet
- Geoff Leigh / saxophones
- Keshave Sathe / tablas, tamboura

(Casablanca Moon--originally titled Slapp Happy)

Slapp Happy was an ambitious Art-Rock trio from the glory days of the genre, back in the 70's, who were mostly remembered for their collaboration with Henry Cow. But before the Avant-Prog work with Henry Cow on the albums Desperate Straights and In Praise Of Learning, there were those sentimental and complex arrangements of Casablanca Moon.
There is a story surrounding the album involving Slapp Happy's collaboration with the band Faust. The two collectives worked together on this album, but the project didn't work out since Polydor rejected the final product. To tell you the truth, I wasn't all that impressed with the few bit of Acnalbasac Noom that I've listened to on YouTube. This meant that Slapp Happy had to re-record most of the material once they moved to Virgin Records.

I'm actually rather surprised that this release wasn't the huge hit that it deserved to be. The music arrangements are quite excellent, still it's Dagmar Krause's vocals that completely steal the show on practically every number. Everyone who has listened to Krause's career in reverse, just like I did, will probably be surprised by the straightforward melodic approach that her voice undertakes here. Some might even criticize this vocal approach, dismissing it for relying too much on the influences from the music scene of its time, but too me Krause has a dominating presence here that can be compared to that of Nico of the first Velvet Underground record.

Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad do a great job behind the scenes, plus the vast list of guest appearances that are literally crammed on this 35 minute long record make their presence known. There are just so many great tunes that will grab any Art Rock lovers attention. Everything from the opening number's flamenco styled rhythms, to quirky tracks like Michelangelo or the sugary A Little Something make it a highly versatile album experience.

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