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Happy Rhodes—Equipoise

Release info:

1993—Aural Gratification—AGCD0019 [CD] AGC 0019 [cassette]


See Auntie Social Music—Happy Rhodes' Official website for current availability

Ecto priority:

Very high. (

Group members:

Happy Rhodes—vocals, percussion, keys, guitar

Guest artists:

Kevin Bartlett—percussion, keys, guitar, bass, multi-dimensional bleedthrough, electric gulls
Chuck D'Aloia—guitar
Andy Wyman—bagpipes
Mark Foster—snare drum
Ray Jung—fretless bass
Kelly Bird—additional vocals
Martha Waterman—piano

Produced by:

Kevin Bartlett and Happy Rhodes.


Great album, to some degree a return to Happy's earlier style (compared to "Warpaint"). The high voice is back! Nice lyrics, and both beautiful and rousing melodies. (

Favourite songs: 'Out like a lamb', 'Closer', 'The flight', 'I say', 'Save our souls', 'Runners'. I have a love/hate relationship with this album. At first I hated it, then I loved it, and now I like some songs very much, while others I usually skip. The ones I like, are among my all-time favourite Happy songs, while the other ones among my least favourite. Happy goes on a musical, lyrical and vocal adventure on this one and tries to please everyone. It's a very mature effort and her most produced album to date. Though not Happy's best album, it includes songs that show her growth as a songwriter/singer and producer. There are some songs that I haven't listened to in months, but the quality of the others is redeeming for the whole. (

My favorite songs from this album are "Mother Sea," and to a lesser extent "Runners" and "Play The Game." The first of these is a rare and refreshing use of acoustic piano; the others are exercises in imaginative social commentary, something she's good at. I am reminded, for some reason, of John Lennon's story "Partly Dave," from his compilation In His Own Write. It starts out, "Once there was a man who was partly Dave. He had a mission in life. 'I'm partly Dave,' he always said." And so Equipoise, like all Happy's music, is essentially Happy—different at a glance from anyone else's, no matter how it may draw upon what has gone before. (

Equipoise stands in stark contrast to her very early work, but the progression from Ecto to Warpaint to Equipoise is clear. This is perhaps her most "user-friendly" offering: the songs tell different stories, not all of them personal, and although at least one inner demon still resides within ("Cohabitants"), as evidenced by "Closer" she clearly intends to leave her past behind and look toward a brighter future.
     The album starts off quite strongly with "Runners", a tongue-in-cheek look at our society's obsession with everything that can kill us and how to avoid the inevitable, and moves to the story of a vampire who seeks release from his immortality in the inseparable diptych "He Will Come" and "The Flight". Then comes "Out Like A Lamb", musically and vocally the most interesting on the album. From there things get a bit uneven until the final track, "I Say", which is by far the strongest of them all.
     Of her six albums, Equipoise is Happy Rhodes' tastiest: there are definite shades of Gabriel and Yes here, and she uses her higher ranges more than on her previous two releases (there are moments where even the most learned Kate Bush fan will be hard-pressed to tell the two apart). It is hoped that six will be her lucky number, and on the strength of this CD Happy Rhodes may well soon become a household name. Not her best album, but a remarkable display of musical and lyrical growth. (

Actually, I like Equipoise less each time I hear it. (Sorry, Happy! :( ) It's not that the material is bad. "Runners" is terrific, and the lyrics are in a Katelike spirit. "He Will Come" and "The Flight" are splendid vampire songs, and we all know how much I like vampires! "Play The Game" is optimistic and beautiful, and "Mother Sea" is simply gorgeous. The problem, alas, is that things are uneven again. I don't like "Closer" much at all (the refrain and outro aren't bad, but I don't like the verse), and I find "Temporary and Eternal" a bit too enervated. "Cohabitants" is terrific but too subdued, and "I Say" is too uniform. "Out Like A Lamb" and "Save Our Souls" are good, but not enough to save the album for me. I hate to slag this, but although I liked it at first, it just doesn't feel even and powerful enough to hold my interest. This one will be displaced in my cd player by Rhodes II and Rearmament eventually. (

Very watery (forgive me I know it's not very exact), this seems to have a smoother feel than Warpaint. The percussion just makes me melt. I love the subjects. Aliens, devils, vampires, mother sea, this woman knows what she's talking about! (

If nothing else, this album belongs in my top ten for the simple fact that inspired me to write a short story based on "Cohabitants." But that's neither here nor there (it's where it is) because there is much in the way of wonderful music to be found here. (

Although I liked it initially, this one took a long time to grow on me. I remember being disappointed with it at first, but now I love it. I still like Ecto and Warpaint better, though. (

Let me get the negative comments out of the way first: the production is a bit overstuffed, the songs are too long (anyone else notice that before Equipoise, she infrequently had songs more than five minutes long? Almost every song on Equipoise is over five minutes!) and a few songs just don't interest me very much ("Temporary and Eternal", "He Will Come", the chorus of "The Flight"). Other than that, there's many many cool things on this album. Bits of "Runners" and "Cohabitants" are really outstanding. I like the rest of the songs, too (excepting the above). I just wish Happy wouldn't feel the need to "make a statement" with every song; I hope her next album has more things like "Summer", just to balance the bombasticness of Equipoise (after all, wasn't "balance" the whole point anyway?) :) (dixon@physics.Berkeley.EDU)

Her best release yet in my opinion. (

In spite of my reservations that the arrangements of some tracks lacked the care and attention they deserved, this was for most of 1993 my favourite album of the year. Some of the songs number among Happy's best ever. (

Yes, I love Happy. So why isn't this higher on my list? Just because I don't listen to it ALL THE TIME. But when I do...I turn "Closer" up much too high for my neighbors' comfort. "You made breathing a nasty chore" is a terrific line. It rivals Kate's "You've made a wake of our honeymoon." I love vituperation in music, maybe because I abhor it in life. (

Equipoise, RhodeSongs. Two great albums in the same year! How lucky can Happy fans get? If I had to pick a favorite in this category? Equipoise—simply because there isn't one song on it I dislike.
     Though "I Say" and "Temporary and Eternal" are my favorite songs on Equipoise, I can't imagine not having songs like "He Will Come" and "The Flight" and "Out Like A Lamb" and "Closer" and mostmostmost especially "Mother Sea" which never fails to leave me in a big messy puddle on the floor. I love all the songs on Equipoise, even "Cohabitants" (though that one took the longest to get into) and consider it an equal favorite with Ecto and Rhodes I. (I hate to rank albums, when I love them all...).
     Every Happy fan *has* to have Equipoise in their collection. It's a must. Trust me. (

I still can't decide if this or Warpaint is my favorite Happy album. Needless to say, this is one of the best by the Hapster and easily one of the best of the year. I can't wait for the next one. (

She really is too. Except she shows signs of becoming even more creative. (

Critically acclaimed and commercially...well, "still building" as they say, Happy Rhodes continues to blend introspection, mythology and social commentary into her wonderful music. Equipoise shows her arrangements growing more sophisticated but never overbearing. (

I *love* the songs that I love on Equipoise, but this is one album with a couple of songs I skip over. It is truly a gem, but it is different. "The Flight" and "Out Like A Lamb" are such interesting songs. I love them, but they are unlike Happy's other material. "Mother Sea" is subtle, and it sort of unfolded for me over time. If you are a KaTe fan, you will probably be very drawn to this one. To me, it's one of the most beautiful songs Happy has written. "Closer" is very powerful, but musically and lyrically.
   Do give this one a try. It spent a lot of time in my changer after I bought it. (

Equipoise was the 2nd Happy CD I heard after Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. It's a lot different and it's one of the albums that one can sort of explore. Among the more beat-driven songs I almost overlistened "Mother Sea" or "Temporary and Eternal" but discovered those as among my favorite tracks soon after. Equipoise sounds darker, more brooding than Building The Colossus, which was more of a 'pop it in and it sounds nice' experience. Also, there's a wonderful topic mix on Equipoise, a vampire mini series, aliens, personal/social observations, etc. Not that Building The Colossus lacks multilayeredness (is that a word) or depth or topic, but it has a more sparkling, clear sound that seems more constant than Equipoise. All in all I'd say I rank Equipoise a bit higher, but this may have something to do with the sequence of getting to know the albums. I was still finding out what Happy is capable of when first listening to Equipoise, when my CD player swallowed Building The Colossus I was already expecting magic :). (

I have to agree here. There is only one song of Happy's that I *won't* listen to ever again, and that's "Cohabitants". That song is just TOO effective and scared the bejeebers out of me the one and only time I listened to it! (seriously!) Otherwise, I love Equipoise and all her other stuff. There are a lot of artists that take "getting used to" (some of the Cocteau Twins' early stuff comes to mind, in my own case); but Happy never seemed that way to me either. (fleur)

Excellent album. If I were to compare it with one of Kate Bush's album, I would compare it to The Dreaming. There is so much happening so much in this music. Every time I listen to it I discover something new. (

I have no major criticisms of Equipoise or Building The Colossus. Of Equipoise, probably the two most well-known songs ("Save our Souls" and "Temporary and Eternal") are my least favorite. "Mother Sea" is rapidly becoming a favorite (and would sound almost at home on Kate Bush's Ninth Wave [from Hounds of Love]). I can't say enough about "I Say." That song is a prime example of why I listen to music at all. "Out Like a Lamb" and "He Will Come" rank very highly as well. (Patrick)

I love it all, usually "save our souls" and "mother sea" more than the rest. Today, however, I felt captivated by the story in "he will come" and "the flight". Hmmm. I must be in a vampiric-sort of mood. ;) (

Happy Rhodes' recordings:

The main Happy Rhodes page

Thanks to Philip Sainty for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2008-07-13 17:50:59.
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