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28.8.09

Slapp Happy




Slapp Happy - Sort Of - 1972 - Polydor

In a review of The 40th Anniversary Henry Cow Box Set (2009), critic John Kelman at All About Jazz wrote that "the kinds of intervallic leaps and harmonic sophistication required of a singer [in Henry Cow] make Krause an undervalued and underrated singer in this history of modern music."

Slapp Happy made this very underrated album in 1972. Slapp Happy's music was always very difficult to categorise. It has been called art rock, avant garde experimental rock, and even progressive rock. In fact, music critcs over labelled this debut album. The music was best described by Peter Blegvad when he described the songs as "simple, primitive pop", and "naive rock". "Sort Of" is a very good album, full of eclectic musical sounds and patterns. Really original catchy compositions by Peter Blegvad and Anthony Moore, and with four of six members of Faust as their backup band, and Dagmar Krause's unique vocals, "Sort Of " is an album that deserves more attention. The Slapp Happy / Henry Cow "Desperate Straights" album is @ SAPHAPHENC/DESPST and the great Slapp Happy & Faust's "Acnalbasac Noom" album can be found @ SAPHAPFAUST/ACNO

TRACKS

1 Just a Conversation
2 Paradise Express
3 I Got Evil
4 Little Girls World
5 Tutankhamun
6 Mono Plane
7 Blue Flower
8 I'm All Alone
9 Who's Gonna Help Me Now
10 Small Hands of Stone
11 Sort Of
12 Heading for Kyoto

All titles written by Peter Blegvad and Anthony Moore

MUSICIANS

Peter Blegvad Guitar, Saxophone, Vocals
Anthony Moore Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Jean-Hervé Péron Bass
Dagmar Krause Vocals, Tambourine, Piano, Woodblock [On 1972 lp, Dagmar Krause was credited as "Daggi". ]
Werner "Zappi" Diermaier aka Zappi Drums
Gunter Wüsthoff Saxophone on 'Paradise Express' and 'I'm All Alone'

REVIEWS

Slapp Happy is the most favorite band of mine. Finally, I start writing about them. I could not write about them until now because I was anxious if I can write well. (My love for them is so strong!) And there are already good sites about Slapp Happy and Dagmar Krause. I was not sure if I can write something new; I am still not sure about it. But it may be better writing something than not writing anything. Slapp Happy is made of three persons. No one can substitute members. They are Dagmar Krause, Anthony Moore, and Peter Blegvad. Pre-history of Slapp Happy started with the episode of Anthony Moore. British born Moore contracted with German Polydor, and released two albums and recorded one more album, which was refused to be released. They are very avant-garde, experimental, Dadaistic, non-sense, fake minimalism music, produced by Uwe Nettlebeck, who also produced Faust. Naturally, these two albums didn't sell at all. So, Polydor demanded more pop and commercial album to Moore. Then, Moore and his American friend Peter Blegvad started to play more pop music. German born Dagmar Krause, the girl friend of Moore, used to be the member of German soft rock band, the City Preachers. But she couldn't sing at that time because of the voice problem. According to Belgvad, which can be a joke, because Belgvad's singing was too bad, Krause started to sing suddenly and took a vocal part of the band. This is the story of how Slapp Happy was started. This debut album was also produced by Uwe Nettlebeck and backed with Faust members. Dagmar Krause's singing is very pure and innocent, it kills me. The songs are simple and primitive pop. Naive rock, according to Peter Blegvad. Particularly, I love the songs Krause sang, Blue Flower, I'm All Alone, Who's Gonna Help Me Now, Small Hands of Stone, Heading for Kyoto. On the other hand, songs Peter Blegvad sang, Paradise Express, I Got Evil, Tutankhamun, Mono Plane, are not very good. His singing was not so good at that time. (His singing improved much in his post-Slapp Happy solo albums.) Title tune, Sort of, is the strange guitar instrumental like the Ventures. © http://www2.odn.ne.jp/airstructures/index.htm

Slapp Happy's debut unveiled a band that was not so much an avant-rock group as one that seemed primarily interested in toying with rock conventions, as if such subversion was more inherently worthwhile than playing it straight. That meant that at its least impressive, it didn't qualify as either good avant-rock or good conventional rock, instead lumbering along with self-consciously jagged tunes. It sounds best when Dagmar Krause's vocals come to the forefront, as on "Heading for Kyoto" and the downright poppy "Blue Flower," a pretty folk-rockish number that lifts a hook from the Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale." "Who's Gonna Help Me Now?" is strange roots-rock, and "Sort Of" a surfish instrumental that sounds like a postmodern "Telstar," all contributing to the feeling that the band was more concerned with tongue-in-cheek eclecticism than moving toward a settled identity. © Richie Unterberger, allmusic.com

BIO

Avant-pop cult favorites Slapp Happy formed in Hamburg, Germany in 1972; there vocalist Dagmar Krause, a veteran of the folk group the City Preachers, first met British experimental composer Anthony Moore, who had previously issued a pair of solo LPs, Pieces of the Cloudland Ballroom and Secrets of the Blue Bag, on Polydor. When the label rejected a third Moore record, he instead proposed a pop project, recruiting Krause and New York-born guitarist Peter Blegvad to form Slapp Happy; recorded with input from members of the famed Krautrock band Faust, the trio issued their debut album Sort of... in 1972, its commercial prospects severely limited as a result of the band's refusal to perform live. Still, Polydor assented to a follow-up, with Slapp Happy soon convening to record Casablanca Moon; the label rejected the album, however, and upon landing at Virgin the trio re-recorded the disc in its entirety, releasing it as a self-titled effort in 1974. Slapp Happy next banded together with the like-minded art-rock outfit Henry Cow to record a pair of collaborative LPs, Desperate Straights and In Praise of Learning; creative tensions then forced Moore and Blegvad to exit the project, although Krause continued singing with Henry Cow though their 1980 dissolution. In the meantime both Moore and Blegvad pursued solo careers, although in 1982 they reunited with Krause to record a new Slapp Happy single, "Everybody's Slimmin'," followed by their first-ever live appearance at London's ICA. All three again collaborated in 1991 on Camera, a television opera commissioned by the BBC and broadcast two years later; a new Slapp Happy studio album, Ça Va, followed in 1998. Camera was issued two years later. © Jason Ankeny, allmusic.com

MORE ABOUT SLAPP HAPPY

Slapp Happy was a German/British avant-garde pop group consisting of Anthony Moore (keyboards), Peter Blegvad (guitar) and Dagmar Krause (vocals). They formed in Germany in 1972, moved to England in 1974 where they merged with Henry Cow, but the merger ended soon afterwards and Slapp Happy split up. From 1982 there have been brief reunions to work on an opera, record a CD and tour Japan. Slapp Happy's sound was characterised by Dagmar Krause's highly original and idiosyncratic vocal style making their music instantly likable by some and hated by others. Slapp Happy was formed in 1972 in Hamburg, Germany by British experimental composer Anthony Moore. Moore had recorded two avant-garde/experimental solo LPs for Polydor Germany, but when they rejected his third because it was not commercial enough, he proposed a pop project with his girlfriend, Dagmar Krause from Hamburg, and a visiting American friend, Peter Blegvad. At the time Dagmar couldn't sing because of voice problems, but when Moore and Blegvad claimed their singing was "terrible", Dagmar agreed to sing for the group. With krautrock group Faust as their backing band, Slapp Happy recorded their debut album Sort Of for Polydor Germany in 1972. The songs were simple, primitive pop, a "naive rock" as Peter Blegvad put it, and with Dagmar Krause's pure and innocent sounding voice, Slapp Happy's trademark sound was established. Commercially, the LP did not go very far, primarily because Slapp Happy refused to perform live "like a real pop group". In 1973 they returned to the studio (again with Faust as their backing band) to record their second album Casablanca Moon. After the commercial failure of Sort Of Polydor had demanded more pop-sounding material, and so Moore and Blegvad wrote "straight" pop songs with beautiful melodies and poetic lyrics, but Polydor was still not happy and refused to release it. Slappy Happy then left Polydor Germany and moved to London where they quickly signed a deal with the then emerging Virgin Records label, which was looking for experimental groups. Faust and Henry Cow had already signed up. At Virgin's Manor studios in Oxfordshire, Slapp Happy re-recorded Casablanca Moon with the help of session musicians and Virgin released it as Slapp Happy in 1974. The songs here were more sophisticated than those on Sort Of, lyrically and musically, and their eccentricity showed Slapp Happy's ambivalence towards pop music. Slapp Happy and Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells were big cash earners for Virgin in 1974, and they helped fund the non-commercial Virgin releases at the time. Slapp Happy was later re-released as Casablanca Moon. It wasn't until 1980 that Recommended Records released the original Casablanca Moon (with Faust) as Acnalbasac Noom (the words of the original title reversed). Comparison of the two releases revealed two very different musical arrangements. Acnalbasac Noom had a raw and unsophisticated feel about it (which appealed to many fans), whereas Casablanca Moon tended to be more sentimental and "dreamy" with more complex arrangements, including a string orchestra. The debate as to which is better still goes on. In November 1974, Slapp Happy invited Henry Cow, a politically-oriented avant-garde rock group, to be their band on their next LP for Virgin and the two groups recorded Desperate Straights as "Slapp Happy/Henry Cow". The success of this collaboration surprised everyone, considering how dissimilar the two bands were, and they decided to merge. Desperate Straights was the perfect mixture of avant-garde music and nostalgic pop. The music often had a Berlin Cabaret feel about it with a taste of avant-garde jazz. The merged group returned to the studio in early 1975 to record Henry Cow's In Praise of Learning (as "Henry Cow/Slapp Happy"). The only real contribution from Slapp Happy (besides Dagmar's singing) was the Moore/Blegvad song "War", which blended in well with the album's political aggression. But differences in approach between the two groups had came to a head and Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad quit, suggesting that Henry Cow's music was too serious (and political) for their liking. Dagmar Krause, however, elected to remain with Henry Cow, who needed a vocalist to bolster their sound. But this spelt the end of Slapp Happy as a band. Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad then both embarked on separate solo careers, and it wasn't until 1982 that the trio reunited briefly to record a new Slapp Happy single, "Everybody's Slimmin' " and perform at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1983. The three collaborated again in 1991 on a BBC commissioned television opera "Camera", based on an original idea by Dagmar Krause, with words by Peter Blegvad and music by Anthony Moore. Dagmar played the lead character "Melusina" and the opera was broadcast two years later on Channel 4 in the UK. The soundtrack Camera was released on CD in 2000, although under the names "Dagmar Krause, Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad". Aside from Dagmar's singing, the music on Camera was performed by other artists and for that reason, Camera is not strictly a Slapp Happy album. In 1997 Slapp Happy reunited again to record a new studio album Ça Va on Richard Branson's new V2 label. It was Slapp Happy's first album since 1975 and the music picked up from where they had left off with literate and quirky pop songs. A departure from the past, however, was that they made the music themselves. They played all the instruments and used a digital studio to produce a layered sound on many of the tracks. This departure from Slapp Happy's "acoustic sound" disappointed some fans, but overall the album was well received. Slapp Happy was very popular in Japan and in 2000 they toured there, playing on stage without any backing musicians. A CD Live in Japan was released in 2001 in Japan only. Slapp Happy's music was eccentric pop with an "avant-garde" twist to it. It drew on a variety of musical idioms, including waltzes, bossa novas, French chansons and tangos. The songs' lyrics were literate and playful while the mood varied from "dreamy" to sinister. But it was Dagmar Krause's unusual and eerie high-pitched voice that was the group's most arresting feature. Her German-inflected vocals ranged from a sweet melodious croon to the love-it-or-hate-it Armageddon style typified on In Praise of Learning. Slapp Happy's music is an acquired taste, but to aficionados, it is enchanting and intriguing. © http://en.allexperts.com/e/s/sl/slapp_happy.htm

11 comments:

A.O.O.F.C said...

LINK

p/w aoofc

Rev. Dr. Moller. MDMA, THC and BAR. said...

Many thanks.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thank you, "Your Reverence". Thanks for following A.O.O.F.C. I am now following Katie!

gkapageridis said...

Well they are something completely different. Arent they? But I for one rate them very highly. Thanks again and again.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, gkapageridis. They are completely different and so good. So many people are unaware of their music. I'm delighted you rate them so highly. Thanks very much for your comments, and please keep in touch

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this one. I like it!
greetz
nel

A.O.O.F.C said...

I'm glad. It is a very good album. Thank you, and come back soon

K L I M P E R E I said...

thanx a lot !

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, KLIMPEREI! Thanks x 1,000,000!

Anonymous said...

Couldn't open the archive, it seems to be corrupt :(

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Anonymous. Right click archive - extract here - use p/w aoofc - That's it! I always use WinRar to create and open archives. Thanks