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Happy Rhodes


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Happy Rhodes is a goddess. Her music is evocative/eclectic, ethereal experimental, alternative pop.

Status:

Most recent album, Find Me (2007)

See also:

Comparisons:

Kate Bush, Annie Lennox, Joni Mitchell. (jbr@casetech.dk)

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Someone Komes To mind, buT I won'T disKlose This info. :-) Happy is unique as both a singer and a songwriter. She has a range that is really astounding, reaching from Annie Lennox lows (listen to 'If love is a game, I win') to KaTe Bush highs. [How very original, I know! :-)] (kyrlidis@templeton.cchem.berkeley.edu)

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A tough call. Like everybody else's music, Happy's is informed by that of others, yet is, in the last analysis, incontrovertibly itself. It has things in common with the music of Kate Bush, Jane Siberry and a host of others, yet stands wholly distinct from them. Then again, you're putting this question to somebody who heard the opening riffs of Warpaint the first time, and immediately thought of Martin Denny. Go figure :-). (mapravat@prairienet.org)

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I love Happy—my approach to her is through the land of Kate Bush, Cranes, Cocteau Twins, Big Hat, Area/The Moon Seven Times, Lush, Love Spirals Downwards. It is less from her "singer-songwriter" component and more from the side of her that's electronic or experimental (for lack of a better word). (maeldun@i-2000.com)

Covers/own material:

Mostly her own. Occasional co-written song or cover.

General comments:

Excellent voice, both in her high range (sounds almost exactly like Kate Bush) and her low range (like Annie Lennox or Joni Mitchell). Happy combines this with a considerable talent for writing music and lyrics. Her early music is based on acoustic guitar, the later is synthesizer based. Warning: Danger of severe addiction! ;-) (jbr@casetech.dk)

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Err, she's OK. ;-) Ever since I listened to the opening notes of 'Rainkeeper' from her first album, my life has changed. I need to listen to Happy's songs and could not possibly imagine not having them around. I think it's all subliminal. She has secret messages hidden in the songs that make you addicted to them :-) (kyrlidis@templeton.cchem.berkeley.edu)

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I enjoyed listening to the first five albums for the first time in awhile, to research this piece of writing, so to speak. Happy's music actually seemed more multifaceted than I remembered it. She eschews high concept without becoming too obscurantist, displays social consciousness without getting either too didactic or too polemical. She has a knack for treating lugubrious subjects in a manner that doesn't sound inordinately lugubrious. Musically, she's a jack of several stylistic trades, and pretty much the master of them all.
     Revisiting her albums the past few days, I found myself more attracted to some of her musical subtypes than others. The ethereal waif of the higher registers is less to my liking than the tougher, more assertive persona implicit in the lower ones. I'm more drawn to her paeans to the autonomy of the individual than to her treatments of depression, suicide, etc. Yet my favorite tracks don't fall neatly onto the "preferred" end of all these dichotomies; they tend to lie differently on different dimensions. The amount of material per album that is of interest to me can vary with the album; yet I've been able to find something I like in each of them. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

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I have 3 Happy CDs now. They are Warpaint, Ecto and RhodeSongs. My favourite is Ecto, with "Ecto" and "When the rain came down" being my favorite songs but the thing I prefer in Happy is her voice. She really has an incredible voice, with a great range and she puts emotion in it. I can't get enough of it! Her songwriting is not bad either. But I suppose you know that already, so I'll stop rambling. :-) (Yves.Denneulin@imag.fr)

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OH YES! Happy Rhodes is absolutely unique. She has a full strong low voice and a clear light high voice and can move back and forth with ease—no breathiness. Most people think at least 2 people must be singing, but it is all Happy. Her earliest music (e.g., Rhodes I, Rhodes II) is different from her latest (Building the Colossus). Her lyrics deal with personal issues and the strength to grow beyond pain, some social consciousness to boot. Be prepared for raw and courageous honesty. Music, lyrics, and vocals, are all unique. Oh yeah, she does the demon artwork herself, and produces her own music. (jwaite@ucsd.edu)

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I'm always changing my mind about what my favorites are, because it's usually whatever I'm listening to at the time. I think Ecto will always be my sentimental favorite, since it was the first album I heard, and I played it to death. Rhodes I and Equipoise are also particularly special to me, but I mean it when I say that I love all the albums, so it's hard to put any of them on a fixed numbered list.
     Songs are just as hard, since there are only 2-3 out of all the albums I'm not crazy about. The rest, I am crazy about. :-)
     A very incomplete list of favorites would include: "Words Weren't Made For Cowards" (Warpaint), "Off From Out From Under Me" (Ecto), "Oh The Drears" (Rhodes I), "Possessed" (Rhodes I), "Summer" (RhodeSongs), "I Say" (Equipoise), "Glory" (Building The Colossus), "Step Inside" (Rhodes I), "Til the Dawn Breaks" (Rearmament), "Given In" (Rhodes I), "Ode" (Ecto), "Under And Over The Brink" (Rhodes II), "Warpaint" (Warpaint), "Mother Sea" (Equipoise), "To The Funnyfarm" (Rhodes II), "Life On Mars" (The Keep), "Crystal Orbs" (Rearmament), and if I don't stop now, I could add 20 more just off the top of my head, without even looking at the albums and saying "oh yeah! how could I forget that one?!" Oh, and "The Wretches Gone Awry"! I always feel such a sense of peace when I hear "Ode", and I can't usually do anything else when it comes on. I just listen and melt.
     I hate to rank albums, when I love them all, so I always say that Equipoise is my musical favorite, Ecto is my sentimental favorite, RI/II & Rearmament are my emotional favorites, and Building The Colossus is my psychological favorite. (Warpaint), The Keep and RhodeSongs are just plain favorites :-).
     It's probable that once you hear more (or most, or all) of Happy's previous work you'll be able to understand the direction she's been working towards since day one. She's not there yet. Many Worlds Are Born Tonight isn't it, but it's a huge step there. Each album builds on her vision, teaches her more, and paves the way for the next step. Each "real" album (Warpaint on) is a powerful, wonderful entity unto itself, but they're only pieces of the puzzle. I think the earth will tremble and the planets will explode if Happy should ever actually get all the way **THERE**. I hope no one gets hurt. :-)
     Many of my favorite Happy songs took me quite a few listens, or quite a while, to appreciate. They needed to settle themselves into a comfortable niche in my psyche. Some songs went to sleep there for years, then they'd wake up at some point in the future and yell "HEY, remember me?" and I vaguely would, and I'd listen again with new ears and they'd become my new best friends, or at least, really good friends.
     Her lyrics can be quite dark, especially the earlier ones. (Oh, wait 'til you see her monsters). You'd never know it to meet her and/or see her live. She's a born comedian, funny as hell!
     If electronics put you off, I'd highly recommend The Keep, since it is acoustic. Now, purists would scream, since after all there are electric guitars and bass used on the songs, but no drums—well, except for acoustic percussion on "Collective Heart" but it's just such a "soft" album, very soothing. Happy's acoustic guitar and Kevin Bartlett's spacy electric guitar and Carl Adami's bass will have you singing their praises too, I'd bet.
     Regarding Rearmament, the Casio-ish electronics on some songs may be off-putting at first, but try giving the songs some more chances. There might be songs that you'll never be able to handle ("Box H.A.P." still grates me the wrong way, and it's only because of the electronics because I love the vocals and lyrics) but others may grow on you and after a while you may not even notice the electronics.
     I tend to grant Happy a whole bunch of leeway, since these songs were Happy's experiments with a synth. Who knew (Happy sure didn't at the time) that not only would these songs later get put on an actual album, that that album that would one day be re-released on CD, an album that could be ordered, bought, listened to and loved by people halfway around the world, but also that that album would be listened to and critiqued over a decade later? I think when you (not a specific "you" but a general you) listen to the 1st 3 especially knowing that Happy had *no idea* that these songs as recorded would be gathered on to actual albums, then it becomes (for me) less of a "Oh, let's see, this album sounds like this and that album sounds like that, and there are these problems here and those problems there" than a "My god this woman is brilliant and listening to these songs is like a special glimpse into Happy's soul and hearing her early experiments in finding her way, and peeking at a slice of her life that rarely, rarely gets to be seen by fans of other artists."
     Something like that, anyway. Works for me! I cherish them.
     But of course, I'm so biased it's ridiculous, because I love these albums *so* much and have listened to them each hundreds (maybe thousands, who keeps track?) of times over the years. It's very hard for me to hear it the way someone in 1998 might hear it, when electronics are so sophisticated. (vickie@enteract.com)

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Wonderful, wonderful stuff. (cinnamon@one.net)

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Well, what can I say...I'm still in some kind of 'dazed and confused' state in regard to this music. I'm still experiencing it, at home, while going to work, walking through a snow blizzard, or sitting in a friend's home, riding a shuttle train.... It has come to me in the most suitable time I could ever choose myself. The vocal range is immense. Lyrics is...well, it's an astonishing feeling of someone duplicating your mind, despite the vast difference of life circumstances. So in short, it is going to be a significant part of me. (mbravo@tctube.spb.su)

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I liked Happy on first listen, but some of her albums took some getting into for me. Equipoise, Ecto and Rhodes II, for example. But I ended up loving them all (well, except Rhodes II, but I do love SOME tracks on it...).
     Both sides of her voice have changed.Rhodes I and II era Happy had a very intense, condensed upper range á la Kate Bush with the English accent copy almost hardcopied into it. Her deep voice was slightly higher than it is now, and much more nasal.
     Building the Colossus-era Happy (and presumably The Keep-era Happy) can go much lower, generally sings very slightly lower, and has more control over her upper range (she doesn't always sing with the accent, and can go airy/breathy with the uppers), and her voice isn't nasal anymore, tending to linger in her throat instead of her nose, if that makes sense. (NyxNight@aol.com)

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Warpaint, Equipoise, Building The Colossus, Ecto, and the rest of them are wonderful. The earlier albums (which I referred to as the rest of them) are a little different as they were originally not made for release. Nevertheless they are splendid musical treasure troves with many an ectophile's favorite songs on them. The later albums, beginning with Warpaint, are a little more "produced". All Happy's music is wonderful. RhodeSongs is a compilation of Happy's softer songs from the whole catalog, so you have a rough idea from that how the albums sound. (rlovejoy@comcast.net)

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I discovered Happy this year thanks to all of you. She's quite a find. I have so far picked up Equipoise and RhodeSongs. "Runners", "He will come" and the acoustic version of "Save our souls" send shivers down my spine. (colford@chlotrudis.org)

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I discovered Happy with Warpaint in 1992 and have been a huge fan ever since I heard the strains of the first song of hers I ever heard, "Phobos" (we have the cd player set on random play). The beauty of her voice (is beauty a strong enough word?) and the power of her songwriting struck me immediately. Over the years as I discovered her back catalogue and then her newer material appeared, I have played it all, and kept playing it. So I've been listening to Happy's albums for six years now—and frequently—and they still intrigue and delight me. How many artists can you say that about? And I write this just after the release of Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, which to me is a clear reminder of how knock-out talented Happy Rhodes is. I know I'll be listening to her music for years and years to come. (Neile)

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All of Happy's albums have some wonderful songs on them. I couldn't choose between albums on that basis, but on the earlier albums the simple voice+guitar arrangements lack variety and some of the cheesy synth contributions are a little unfortunate (in my opinion). I don't feel that these limitations are sufficient to detract from the songs, and Happy's singing is full of conviction and life.
     On Warpaint there are none of those limitations: the arrangements are varied in their instrumentation and carefully chosen to suit each song. It may be my imagination, but I also think that Happy's voice was more beautifully captured on tape with this recording than heretofore. For me, this is the first of Happy's albums to sound fully professional in every aspect. And her songs and her voice are so good that they deserve this level of presentation.
     The two subsequent albums do not seem to have kept up the same high standard, though only marginally so in the case of Equipoise. The songs are as good as ever and Happy's voice is still captured well but, to my ears, the arrangements have not been so carefully thought through and, on Building the Colossus, sometimes sound surprisingly routine.
     With the last two albums, as with the first four, I can imagine how they could have been done better in some ways. Warpaint is as close to perfection in popular music as I expect to hear in my life. (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

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I've been rediscovering Happy's music once again, listening on yet another 'level' (don't know how to describe that). It's been almost exactly 4 years now since I heard the first notes of "Feed the fire" on RhodeSongs, and I still remember that day as if it were yesterday. I always have at least one cd of hers in my wallet at work, or a sampler tape in my walkman.... I think Happy is my favourite singer nowadays. (Marion)

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About a year ago I chanced upon a copy of Happy Rhodes' The Keep, and as I usually do, I picked it up and took a chance on this unknown (to me) artist.
     Magic! From the beginning notes of "Temporary &Eternal", I knew I was hooked. By the time "Oh, Holy Night" played, I was moved to tears at the exquisite tone of her voice, and being the Heathen that I am, I know that I was not moved by the religious implications of the song itself.
     A couple of months back I found Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, and shortly thereafter I found Building The Colossus.
     I am too new a fan to speak authoritatively on her skills, but she most definitely has all my attention. I have bought copies of Many Worlds Are Born Tonight for all my friends, and they are hooked as well.
     No one I know here in SF has ever heard of her; why is that? We are all reasonably 'hip'....
     There is ONE song that I could live happily without, and that is 'Collective Heart'. It wore thin on me a long time back.
     I spend my weekends like an obsessed zombie, going from one used cd store to another, scouring their stock in hopes of finding these legendary recordings that you all speak of: Warpaint, Equipoise, and so on. (Anachro1@pacbell.net)

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Happy Rhodes: the hidden goddess, whose beauty has yet to burst upon the world at large.
     I can understand a bit someone talking less than positively about Rhodes I. I still haven't gotten into Rhodes I and Rhodes II that much, although "Come Here" on "Rhodes II" always surprises me with this little twisty thing near the end that is definitely *creepy*. But it's in the words. If you are looking for emotion, try "Cohabitants" on Equipoise if you want the bejeebers scared outta you; hmm...for anger and I-think-I'll-just-crush-'em, try "If I Ever See The Girl Again" on Building The Colossus; "Warpaint" (on the album of that name) for new-found strength and determination; "I Have A Heart" on Rearmament is so achingly sweet and sad; oh jeez, all of Warpaint does it to *me*; I love "Temporary and Eternal" (originally on Equipoise, but I like the very space-y, bass-y The Keep version better)—it gives chills in a saddening, hopeful, otherness kind of way; I find almost *everything* on Building The Colossus to be emotional/moving—many on this list have said it's Happy's "most accessible" album—it was the first one I heard and probably still my favourite; and if you really want to hear strong emotion in Happy's latest (Many Worlds Are Born Tonight), try "Looking Over Cliffs"—at times there is a ragged-edge sound to her voice (*more* chills!).
     If you are talking about singers who sing in an emotional *way*, then to me that often means performers who sacrifice musicality and understandability for some kind of vocal flailing around that I don't really appreciate. In fact, it's downright embarrassing sometimes. I suppose you could say that Happy's music is more cerebral...but it's *not* devoid of feeling, by a long shot! She just isn't a screamer...I wouldn't put one of her albums on (for the first time) and try to do something else at the same time and expect to be hit over the head by something. I find the best way to listen, for the first time, is in quietness, with full attention, and attention to lyrics. To me, it's her use of lyrics, melody, layering, mood, and (a lot of the time) Kevin's basslines that all combine to give the feeling to Happy's songs.
     How I know if I am consistently moved by a Happy Rhodes song: I want to SING with it! After the recent discussion of Rearmament, I found myself playing and singing with "Til The Dawn Breaks" daily for about two weeks or so! I cannot *not* sing with "Building The Colossus" or "If I Ever See The Girl Again" or "Warpaint" or "Phobos" or or or...you get the picture. :-)
     I really prefer her songs in which she sings low—just GETS to me! Powerful, sometimes almost chilling (according to the lyrics). She doesn't sound like *anyone* else. ::thinking back to "'Til the Dawn Breaks", "Building the Colossus", "If I Ever See The Girl Again", "Temporary and Eternal" (The Keep version), and not so long ago to "The Chariot": I'm glad she did quite a bit in her lower register on Find Me. (fleur)

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Many Worlds Are Born Tonight blows my mind...and in turn it has blown the minds of friends and e-pals of mine whom I've introduced to Happy via this cd. Many of these people are more into electronica than folk/acoustic...and since I knew what they liked already, I knew which friends to focus on when I wanted to share my excitement about Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. On the flip side, with friends who like the more folky/acoustic side of things, I definitely recommend The Keep, which is actually my second fave Happy record (and then my third is Rhodesongs, which is a really well-conceived compilation of pre-Many Worlds Are Born Tonight/The Keep/Building The Colossus material.)
     So...if you don't like electronic music, I would encourage you to listen to The Keep. (Violaine@juno.com)

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Happy Rhodes *is* amazing and does inspire the listener to fall into a trance just as well as Kate Bush does! If you think Warpaint is trance-inducing, Many Worlds are Born Tonight will make you catatonic! (snooterbooter@yahoo.com)

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in the freak chance that one way or another happy and the charts align, i can't imagine that the harmony would last more than a song or two. i don't think the music that happy creates, much as i like it, has what it takes to be a commercial success in the mainstream market (i am talking about the mainstream, mind you). look at what fills the charts: sappy power ballads, vapid dance tunes, the oddball country thang. look at happy's music. i see a big disparity there and i don't expect the gulf to be bridged that easily.
     the mainstream has budged closer to the ecto side, but it hasn't gone very far, lilith fair notwithstanding. jewel, sarah mclachlan and natalie merchant (just to pick a few) aren't exactly challenging stuff. happy, on the other hand, is.
     on the other side of the coin, happy hasn't really moved to make her music any more accessible. many worlds are born tonight is lush, but not really pop enough in the, well, pop sense to be chart material. building the colossus is, by far, happy's pop record and that's behind her now.
     i don't think promotion is the big unknown in the equation. you can promote some things all you want but they still won't become popular. promotion will increase the fold by including those who are receptive to this sort of thing, but you still have to have material which is compatible with the mainstream for it a breakthrough.
     please, don't misunderstand me! i'm not saying that we shouldn't hope and wish for happy's success, begrudge her the success she has had (as some cult artist fans sometimes do) or work to help out where we can. far from it! i'm just saying that i, personally, don't expect it.
     for me, a new happyfan is worth *so* much more than a top ten hit. everyone who has happyvangelized knows the joy of seeing (or reading about) music that is dear to you touch someone else in a similar way. *that's* what this is all about. yeah, it doesn't pay the rent, but getting caught up in the charts doesn't feed the heart either.
     of all Happy's songs, the only one i think had the potential to be a radio hit (or whatever) is "collective heart"—it's up-beat, has a great hook and that gorgeous cello bridge *yum!* "feed the fire" was a hit of sorts (not to denigrate all that wxpn to did for happy) but the rest of them? dunno. i see them appealing to selective segments of music afficiandos, but none have the general appeal of "collective heart".
     much as it sucks and much as i'd like to be proven wrong, i don't think happy is ever going to be well-known or even recognized outside the slowly-widening circle of ectophiles (knowing and unknowing) and musicians she's worked with. mind you, that doesn't diminish what she does or how we react to it, but i don't think happy has enough mass appeal to be more than a "cult" (for lack of a better word) artist or a musician's musician.
     alas.
     *sigh*
     Ecto and Rearmament are probably my fave happy albums. (woj@smoe.org)

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I really think that Happy is a great guitarist. She plays both 6- and 12-string acoustic guitar, as well as classical nylon-string guitar. She does some really nice work on classical guitar. I love her classical guitar solo on "The Chariot". She also uses processing effects in an interesting way throughout the songs on The Keep and on many of her other recordings. Most female artists that play acoustic guitar don't use effects processing like chorus and DDL echo on their guitars. I think that Happy is unique in doing that.
     I tend to agree that Happy has shown a definite progression with each album. There are outstanding songs on all of Happy's CDs. There are also some that I don't care as much for as well. I can't say that about Many Worlds Are Born Tonight or The Keep though. I love both of those CDs completely. Many Worlds Are Born Tonight is the epitome of her well-produced, electronic-based music and The Keep is the best representation of her acoustic-based music, in my opinion. The earlier CDs were more like diamonds in the rough from both a songwriting and production point of view. Plus Happy seems to be quite unhappy in those early lyrics. She must have had some difficult experiences to prompt her to write the lyrics of some of those songs.
     This statement is probably not significant of anything, but I really don't like the covers of Rhodes I, Rhodes II and Ecto. I find them to be quite disturbing, especially the cover of Rhodes II. I'm sure Happy meant them to be that way (disturbing, that is). My partner mentioned to me that if she didn't already know how good Happy Rhodes sounded, she wouldn't take a chance on her music based on the CD cover. I don't know if anyone else feels this way. I'm quite sure that this subject has been covered on the list before. (wpm@value.net)

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If someone likes The Keep, they should check out Rhodesongs and the first two CDs.
     I prefer the simpler guitar-based arrangements to the more layered, electronic ones (by far), and those three CDs are the best sources of that side of Happy's music. (mcurry@io.com)

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Basically I see Happy's albums in terms of warmth/coolness, fluidity/rigidity, etc. I think you'll agree that there's something very "cold" about the synthesiser-based songs on the first two albums, and at times the guitar-songs as well. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. Just a thing :). Rearmament was quite a large step forward in terms of freeing up her sound, and many of the tracks sound more fluid and kinetic than earlier songs (obvious examples being "Perfect Irony", "'Till The Dawn", "Be Careful What You Say"). A lot of this can be traced to the Happy's maturing production skills, incorporating more subtle synthesiser noises (just don't mention "Box H.A.P"), drums and percussion, and even electric guitar.
     Ecto, to me at least, seems to be a partial step backwards, and while Rearmament was more overtly emotional, Ecto shares much of the first two albums' distant, mournful qualities. While superficially the maturing production is still there in some drum tracks, improved keyboards and overall sound, the arrangements are usually rigid and repetitive (again not necessarily a bad thing), i.e. closer to "Case Of Glass" than "Baby Don't Go". Also there are more guitar songs again, and "Would That I Could" in particular seems to be attempting to reclaim the stylised stiffness of those early guitar songs. Naming the first track "I'm Going Back" didn't really hinder my assessment either.
     Warpaint, then, is the major step forward arrangement-wise, taking its cues from the bonus tracks of Rearmament and Ecto ("Be Careful What You Say", "Look For The Child", "When The Rain Came Down") more than from anything from Ecto itself, by more overtly involving the drums until they are the grounding for the song, not just window-dressing, and by using varying keyboards and synthesisers to form a more lush, complex arrangement.
     Equipoise is certainly not a backwards step in terms of arrangements, but here Happy brings back her high voice which she had somewhat abandoned for Warpaint, and the songs have more of the haunting, cool sound of the early albums. The occasional use of slow keyboard washes and subtle percussion makes some of the songs sound like rerecorded versions of early songs (perhaps Rearmament era? I can imagine "Dreams Are..." and "Friend You'll Be" getting Equipoise makeovers), as they are less cluttered and more ethereal than those on Warpaint.
     Building The Colossus is again a more rhythmic album, and seems to pick up the thread from Warpaint's more kinetic songs, although the lessons of Equipoise have been thoroughly learnt. Actually, if anything this album seems to be an extrapolation of "Be Careful What You Say" more than anything else. Certainly not a bad thing, as that song is one of my favourites, but it's about the furthest Happy has ever gotten from her original style.
     Finally Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, while again showing the signs of Building The Colossus ("Roy", "Proof"), seems to bear more affinity with Equipoise ("100 Years", "The Chariot", "Ra Is A Busy God", "Tragic", "Winter", "Looking Over Cliffs", which means it's sort of a reflection of a reflection of the early work, with one honest-to-goodness Rhodesesque track in "If Wishes Were Horses". So while Many Worlds Are Born Tonight isn't really like Rhodes I/II, it strikes me as being much closer than Building The Colossus. The techno production does not really factor into my opinion of the album, perhaps because I have so many albums with a similar sound that it simply seems like a logical progression.
     So while Rearmament is more like Rhodes I/II than anything post-Ecto, I think I'm correct in saying that every second album still shows more affinity to those albums than the one immediately previous. When I bought Rhodesongs I really thought that Happy sounded as if she had a metaphorical blanket over her head. Everything sounded wonderful, but distant and not at all what I had really expected. I put a brave face on the situation and said to myself—but the music is really nice, and the lyrics, and the singing, it's just....
     However I persevered, and discovered that Rhodesongs is a good introduction to Happy, but only in retrospect. After buying Rearmament, and soon falling in love with it, I went back to Rhodesongs and fell in love with it in one listen. Rhodesongs is just too stylistically monochrome to stimulate the chemicals required for Happy-addiction in my opinion. What was needed was a bit of the fire, passion and energy which is present on almost everything else Happy has released (Ecto's a bit stiff though, another one I wouldn't recommend first off).
     "Oh The Drears", "'Til The Dawn", "Baby Don't Go", "Look For The Child", "Murder", "Warpaint", all these songs reveal a passionate, Amazonian side of Happy you might never guess existed from Rhodesongs. Talk about hiding her light under a bushel!
     Anyways, things might be looking up, as Many Worlds Are Born Tonight includes more passionate, emotional songs than ever! Especially "Tragic" and "Looking Over Cliffs", the last of which shows some amazingly ragged vocals.
     What is Happy's most distinctive feature? Her voice (especially multi-tracked), and her haunting arrangements. Her lyrics too, but I would give that less priority because I don't think they're the first thing you notice in a Happy song (although when you do...). Happy could conceivably be successfully marketed in a similar fashion to the Cocteau Twins—as tough, edgy ethereal music. Where they have Elizabeth's vocal acrobatics and Robin's sonic cathedrals to impress with, Happy can harmonise herself to within the edge of her existence, and is also amazingly adept at complicated, singular arrangements. If Happy released songs which captured both of these elements successfully (I'm thinking of cross-mutating "Baby Don't Go" with "Ra Is A Busy God" myself), she would have a whole little area all to herself in which to play—and if there's one thing that critics love, it's something new. However I think that Happy's studio abilities would have to increase even further. Many Worlds are Born Tonight showed that Happy can sound up-to-date, but I think she has the ability to sound truly innovative. Perhaps she should (gasp!) find a producer who can bring the best "sound" to the recordings. It restarted Madonna's career, didn't it? (afinney@ozonline.com.au)

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I bought my first Happy Rhodes CD (Many Worlds Are Born Tonight) after a friend sent me a couple of songs off of Warpaint in a tape-tree. I was overwhelmed and a bit amazed that I'd gone so long without hearing this amazing artist. I've been a Kate Bush fanatic since 1984, and I was at least *familiar* with Ecto through the Siblings mailing list. It only took those two songs, "Words Weren't Meant for Cowards" and "Warpaint" to make me a convert! ;-) (mickey@io.com)

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My real interests are first and foremost Kate Bush, and through sites relating to her, kept reading about a "Happy Rhodes". I have searched music stores for years (before on-line stores) and always came up empty. Finally I found Many Worlds are Born Tonight and sampled it on Amazon and was immediately taken aback by her angelic voice, and yes, it's quite similar to Kate's. I couldn't believe when it came in I finally had my hands on this person. Admittedly, at first I was kind of disappointed with all of the electronica and that her voice wasn't always Kate's. But the more I listen to it—to this day even—I continue to be amazed with what a creative, talented, musical and lyrical genius she is, and with such a beautiful voice that is all her own. Of course while wishing her success, I can only hope that she continues to produce music that so obviously is her own creation and not influenced by major label mass production. I'm inspired that there are artists such as her at work. (expiv@tin.it)

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Yesterday I got a package in the mail and it was Warpaint by Happy Rhodes. A person I met on a Kate Bush list told me I just had to hear her so I agreed. So I popped it in and immediately fell into the same trance like when I first heard Kate Bush and Tori Amos...it was amazing. Then I came to a song called "Words Weren't Made for Cowards" and I was like "WOW she's singing with Kate!!!", then of course I realized this was Happy singing...the resemblance is UNCANNY! (wutheringheights00@yahoo.com)

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Some of that earlier/middle stuff suffers from a "one person doing everything" type of stilted sound. On some songs the synth sounds are soooo cheesy as to be unlistenable. I repeat....*some*. That being more the product of the time as anything else. (Those cheesy sounds once were good, like leisure suits, and polyester disco clothes.) However, once she got to the point of being able to have other musicians of the caliber of David Torn play on her albums, like on Building The Colossus, the sound obviously benefited from the broader, fleshed-out orchestration. (jfrancis@villagenet.com)

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So it was with anticipation that I bought a tape by Happy Rhodes (Rhodes I), since the newsgroup was at least nominally about her. I figured that if people were into all these other singers I liked so much, I would probably like Happy a lot, too. But unfortunately, I was quite disappointed in the tape. Frankly, I was surprised at how sterile and passionless she sounded. Technically brilliant, without a doubt, and possessed of an astonishing range. But cold. It was like being in a room full of conceptual, geometric modern art when I longed for warm, colorful fabric sculptures, or like eating a beautifully presented, no-fat/no-salt/no-sugar Nouvelle Cuisine meal instead of a hearty stew. I felt still hungry after listening. It was all very pretty and "interesting," but it didn't make me *feel*.
     I didn't mean to trash Happy—I do respect her musicianship and creativity. I just don't feel swept away by her music, which isn't any more in my control than the fact that I hate the taste of beets and love the color teal. :)
     I think for me, music that's as cerebral as hers is doesn't move me. Maybe the deliberate artfulness gets in the way for me—it's like there's so much care taken technically that the emotion feels restrained, unable to really break loose and fly, or something.
     To clarify, it's not her music itself that I find sterile. I think a lot of the songs are very, very pretty, in fact. It's her voice I find cold. Her vocal technique is perfect—a little *too* perfect for me, I guess. Flaws are part of what makes a voice interesting to me.
     This doesn't mean I dislike her—in fact I've listened to the album many times. I just have never gotten emotionally caught up in it. So I listen to it when I'm in the mood for something cooler and more abstract. (jwermont@sonic.net)

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Been a big Happy fan since I first heard Warpaint when it was released. I soon found her previous four, and I have everything since then. My fave is still Warpaint, for many reasons, but that's closely followed by (in order of what I play most often) Rearmament, Rhodes I, Ecto and II. Equipoise is played less, and I wasn't a big fan of Building The Colossus, but it does get some time in my CD player. Of course Rhodesongs and The Keep are great as well. (Plasterofstevie@aol.com)

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i can say that i am a bit hot/cold in my feelings towards Happy, (she certainly is NOT on the ectobland side of the spectrum, but her music just isn't always my aesthetic, other times she strikes it right home. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

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I find it ironic that the CD that pulled me into Happy...Equipoise...is the same one that ended it for someone. But my recurring complaint is that again, someone puts a CD on once or twice and has an immediate opinion. That just might be Happy's downfall. I don't think her music is for people who don't have the patience to let it all sink in.
     Happy is on the top of my list of artists I love. I don't think any of her CDs did it to me until after about 10 listens and reading the lyric sheet. Many Worlds are Born Tonight took me an even longer time but it was well worth the wait.
     I am totally baffled by someone finding Happy's music unemotional. I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I can still be shocked by it. Maybe it's just that a lot of Happy's work is so dark. That's the reason that I am drawn to Happy's work but I can understand how it might turn some off. But it is emotional, that I'm sure of.
     I've been reading all the suggestions for albums of Happy's to try first. And I realize that most of the suggestions were for acoustical listening, Some were just for favorite album. For me, my favorite cd has always been Ecto. My favorite single song is off of Warpaint..."All Things". (FAMarcus@aol.com)

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Happy is supremely talented (as if we didn't know that already) and musically she is right up there in the big league! damn those radio stations and their narrow-focused playlists...she's a billion times more talented than 99% of the bands they play! how dare stations say that Many Worlds are Born Tonight is not as good an album as she's done! seeing the songs performed so well live is further proof that these stations are just light years behind in musical intelligence! ( (cjmacs@concentric.net)

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Like people have said regularly for multiple other artists—a weak Happy song is still better than almost anything on the radio. (neal)

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To me, Happy's music is much more than the sum of its parts. Yes, there are better lyricists out there, and like it says in her bio on her website, she's no virtuoso. But what she can do in the studio is nothing short of magical, and then there's That Voice. Put all of those together, and you've got something VERY special. Something worthy of placement in a musical pantheon.
     She is most certainly a songwriter. And a damned good one, at that. (meth@some.org)

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Happy. Blew me away. Scoured clean my pop-sludged intake valves. A new adventure I couldn't wait to embark on. But. Yes, to a certain degree—especially the earlier stuff—coldish and, maybe even, sterile. A worshipful offering to the gods of music as math: frequencies of tone meshing with frequencies of tone to synergize a tone—a tone, a tone, a tone—Bach was cold and sterile. Is. But in his cold and sterile language he painted pictures of god. Happy's technical proficiency—her eerie perfection, her nearly inhuman cleanliness of musical line and melody—has its place in the scope of my musico-emotional needs. Sometimes I can't listen to Bach: anal bees arguing over how many angels can square dance on the head of a pin. But sometimes nothing else will do. As with Happy. Sometimes her ground-zero of musical perfection is the clean slate from which I must start. Sometimes, Happy fits like a cold latex glove squeezing my innards like an overdue cardiac arrest. (lissener@wwa.com)

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I'm a Happy fan who absolutely worships about 60 percent of her work, thinks 25 percent of her stuff is, um, "interesting," and doesn't get anything out of the remaining 15 percent. I think these percentages are about right; I own all of Happy's CDs, including the two Aural Gratification compilations. I haven't really been able to get into Many Worlds are Born Tonight, but I cannot urge you enough to listen to The Keep. It is nothing like Many Worlds are Born Tonight, and it's...it's...heavenly? angelic? Something like that, I think. Trust me... Please!?!?! (knappk@army.net)

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The first time I ever heard Happy, I fell in love with her voice. I have never *not* immediately enjoyed her music—each and every cd. So yes, I am a fan, but in the other sense, I loved her music before I became a full-blown "fan." And I wouldn't ever understand how someone could listen to her and not enjoy her talent immensely. (mchapman@langley.edu.net)

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Happy's voice never fails to amaze. (ectophil@netlink.co.nz)

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I don't hear anything male in her lower register, I hear Annie Lennox. I played "Hold Me" for a friend as an intro to Happy Rhodes and he thought it was a duet by KaTe and Annie and he became an ectophile when I told him it was one person. So, there are at least 2 of us that hear Annie Lennox.
     I also love how her voice moves in "Words Weren't Made For Cowards" from that wonderful low effortlessly up to her high tones.
     I remember from The Tin Angel gigs I was at, how, when she went high there seemed to be an extra gleam in her eye. It looked like she was seeing an old friend in the back of the room each time and at the time I was also thinking that her high notes were tickling her brain. 8-) (zzkwhite@ktwu.wuacc.edu)

Comments about live performance:

Well, the one downside to seeing Happy live is that you don't get to hear her sing in both registers at the same time. On the other hand, we've (almost) always had the pleasure of hearing her harmonize with Kelly Bird, and frankly, that's the next best thing. As for seeing her live, well, let me just say that (a) it's definitely something from which one needs to recover and (b) you quickly realize that you have to recover, if only for the joy of seeing her yet again. (c. 1997)

Finally, moving on to Happy's set, well, it was wonderful. Too short, but it was still wonderful. I love watching her sing, watching that range of sounds appear so effortlessly from her lips. The arrangements were fairly straightforward, given the lack of guitar-based noises, loops, embellishments, and leads. The drum kit is a nice touch. I know at least one other person has mentioned that Happy seemed more laid back than usual, aware of the kind of crowd to which she was playing. One clear sign of this was her wardrobe—old overalls with both knees blown out! Her humor was in fine form, not only when she sang "The Ballad of Sir Robin" but also as the audience traded Monty Python quotes with her. I'm still trying to decide if "Ra" had a different arrangement from last October, and I'm fairly sure it does...seems like back then it started out as it does on the studio version; the new arrangement has it beginning with her singing, fairly low, the lines beginning "Even the leaves laugh...." Wonderful!
     Happy is very, VERY intense live. Her voice is just so beyond amazing, that I'd be perfectly content to see her solo in a living room. Add Kevin on guitar/e-bow, and it's just totally over the top. (8/98, burka@jeffrey.com)

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Despite a long history with her, this was my first time to see her. I really didn't know what to expect. I have to admit, while I was pleasantly surprised by a lot of aspects of her performances, there was a teensy part of me that was slightly disappointed. This has nothing to do with her performance, which was terrific in the first show and merely great in the second. It had more to do with my expectations of seeing a woman I had idolized and had been dying to see live forever. I know this is foolish, but I guess I expected for her to make up to *me* for all those shows that *I* missed. I wanted to hear "Rainkeeper," "The Wretches Gone Awry" "To Live In Your World," "Wrong Century" "Terra Incognita"—you know, all *my* favorite songs that I have listened to, loved, cried to, etc., for years and years.
     I go to enough concerts to know that most performers sing material primarily from the newest album. Maybe since Many Worlds are Born Tonight is more than a year old now, I thought the set list wouldn't rely so heavily on that album (even though I love Many Worlds are Born Tonight, it's my second favorite Happy CD, after (Warpaint). And actually, from what I remember of the set lists posted after last years' concerts, she actually did more non-Many Worlds are Born Tonight material this time. I nearly cried when she did "I Have a Heart" and "Look for the Child." And, oh my gosh, I love "Save Our Souls" and "Warpaint", and even though Building The Colossus is my least favorite Happy Rhodes album, "Just Like Tivoli" and "Pride" are my two favorite songs from that album.
     I was surprised to see how funny and chatty she was. Gotta admit, I've always had this image of her being quite serious and one of those performers who is so concerned about the music that they don't know how to have fun with the audience.
     I thought her voice was great, and despite a few tech problems and all her switching from sitting to standing, the overall sound was terrific. The band was fantastic and I especially loved Bon's playing. Since I have never seen her play with Kevin, I have nothing else to compare that to, though (besides, of course, the albums).
     So, gee, what am I saying here? I loved the concerts and am so glad I finally made the effort to see her. She was fabulous, even if the show didn't totally blow me away like I had expected it to. (This may have had a little to do with the space, also, which was a little too narrow and claustrophobic for my taste.. I definitely want to see her again though, and will keep praying that Samson gets off their asses and does more to promote her and send her around the country, or world even. (7/99, Plasterofstevie@aol.com)

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I remember when I first heard Happy live at the Bottom Line, having this strange disconnect: as if it wasn't possible that I was seeing the person who had written the music; the music had been there, somehow, forever. (12/98)

Happy's shows last night at the Tin Angel were wonderful.
     I didn't get the set lists down in order, but basically she did everything off Many Worlds are Born Tonight except "The Chariot" and "Looking over Cliffs." She did "Winter" only in the first show and "Tragic" only in the second show. Songs from other albums included: "Warpaint" (started both shows off), "Save Our Souls", "I Have a Heart" (1st show only), "Just Like Tivoli", "Ashes to Ashes", "Look for the Child".
     "I Have a Heart" and "Just Like Tivoli" were Happy solo on acoustic guitar; "Ashes to Ashes" featured Happy on acoustic and Bob Mueller on percussion.
     Happy wound up having to keep switching from standing up playing the acoustic guitar to sitting down to play the keyboard, and wished she had a "hovermike" like the hoverlamps in Dune. In general, the keyboards were limited to things like the backing chant for "Many Worlds are Born Tonight," or the choral backing vocals in "Tragic."
     Although Bon is a great guitarist, I felt a distinct lack of Kevin Bartlett. I guess I'll have to get used to it.
     The encore number for each show was "Serenading Genius." (7/99, psfblair@ix.netcom.com)

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As for the shows....wow! I've seen 8-10 shows now, and I'll say that last night was the best. As much as I love Kevin's playing, and I am amazed and mesmerized by Kevin's playing, Bon just blew me away! It's hard to describe why this was so different, but I'll give it a go. I think is was how much presence Bon added to the songs with such minimal, precise playing. Yeah, that's it—he knew precisely the right sound to make, and in just the right way (no simple picking for this guy), with no wasted effort. Amazing! Can't wait to see him again in October or November.
     I think the only element missing was Kelly, who backed Happy for several shows about, what, 2-3 years ago? Though it sure sounded like there was a whole chorus of backup singers behind the stage or something....
     The songs played were excellent. Thank you, thank you, thank you Happy for playing my second favorite song, "Look for the Child"! The recorded versions of the song never wow-ed me until I heard Happy play it live about 4-5 "tours" ago. It is a much more powerful song played live! Loved it! Other highlights for me were "Proof", "Serenading Genius", "Many Worlds are Born Tonight", "Warpaint", the "Roy" dance-mix—aw hell, everything was great! And the acoustic selections were a real treat (that *was* "The Suicide Song", wasn't it?)! My only complaint was that there was only one different song in the second show. Oh well, I'm still thrilled to have seen both shows. Carl seemed to be having a lot more fun in the second show, letting loose with a mini-bass solo. (7/99, joc@netaxs.com)

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I thoroughly enjoyed both shows. It was pretty amazing how much stuff they could cram onto the tiny Tin Angel stage. Happy had a ton of effects with her, but they didn't seem to be used too much. I think more of them showed up in the sound check than during the show. That really as an observation, rather than a complaint, 'cause the songs certainly weren't missing layering and effects. Between the great bass and drum work and whatever Happy was adding on guitar and keyboards, the songs had plenty going on.
     I enjoyed Bon's work throughout. It's good Happy could find another imaginative guitarist to play with her. However, I'm in the camp that really missed Kevin. Bon did some nice stuff, but I was always in awe of what Kevin could do.
     It was great to hear so much of the Many Worlds are Born Tonight material live, though I think my favorite song of the night was still "Warpaint". (7/99)

Some of the full band shows from a few years ago were really impressive, particularly since Happy had a back-up singer (Kelly Bird) who could do a pretty good job keeping up with her. The amazing part was Kelly looked like she was working really hard, and Happy was effortless.
     Even the stripped-down shows have usually had a guitar player with her. For a long time, that was Kevin Bartlett, adding all sorts of amazing guitar wizardry to the songs. Subtle but wildly affective. More recently it's been Bon Lozaga (of Project Lo).
     The part that is truly amazing is that nothing about singing seems to require any work from Happy. Singing any note in her range, and shifting quickly between them, is as effortless as talking. She really doesn't seem to be working even a little bit. She just stands there, looking nonchalant, and opens her mouth and that voice comes out. It's really unbelievable. (12/00)

Happy's set mirrored the recent Tin Angel shows pretty well, but sounded dramatically different with Bon's guitar replaced by the extra keyboard. I've never seen Happy play with a second keyboard, and was amazed at how different the arrangements sound. It made the songs sound quite fresh and new to me, though I missed the inventive guitar work of either Bon or Kevin. Also, Happy got a lot of her effects working, which were abandoned at the Tin Angel. She seemed really thrilled when they all synched up for her on "Roy". While I thought they were kind of fun, I didn't think they really added much to the songs. Maybe once they get integrated a bit more smoothly into the live show that will feel better for me. But for now, I thought they were more novelties than solid embellishments. (2001, neal)

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Just wanted to let you all know that I'm still on a Happy-high from her performance at the Wire in PA Saturday night. It was the first time I'd seen Happy perform live, and wow, was I ever impressed. Indulge me for a moment as I rehash the finer details....
     The Wire is intimate. Only the bassist and drummer were on a slightly elevated floor; Bon and Happy were on the same level as the audience. I think the people in the front row could've put their feet up on Happy's Korg if they'd wanted to. The band came on a little bit after 8 o'clock; Happy came in carrying the video camera again, shooting the audience. She said she hoped she wouldn't have to get us all to sign a release afterwards.
     I'd heard Happy had a very dry and quick wit, but I wasn't expecting to be laughing and smiling so much during her show. I think she spoke at least a little between each song, which only added to the intimacy of the entire performance. She introduced her first song ("Proof") as "Ode to Encephalitis." "Ra is a Busy God" was then introduced as "Ode to Encephalitis, Part Two," and she said she was afraid to go back to NY because of the mosquitoes. And she told us to put on our dancing shoes just before playing "Winter."
     Obviously the show centered largely on Many Worlds are Born Tonight songs, but I really found Happy's choices of earlier songs interesting; to me, songs like "All Things" and "Tivoli" aren't necessarily the most obvious choices to be the single performances from Warpaint and Building The Colossus, but that's all right. "All Things," which has always been sort of a "passive" favorite of mine, was especially invigorated by the live performance. I would've loved to hear "Down Down" live, though.
     One of the most amazing aspects of the show for me—the newbie of Happy's live performances—was just watching her sing. She so effortlessly moves from her low to high range and back again, all without a trace of strain. Just hearing that pure range of sound coming out of one person was unreal. This is a voice that needs to be heard—and appreciated—by the masses. I left the Wire quite the happy Happy fan, complete with the coveted Many Worlds are Born Tonight mousepad and an autographed CD. *Sigh* (10/99, Patrick)

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I'm writing you all to share with you my comments on the ecto-fest. This was for me, a very special occasion. I was listening to Happy a lot back in '91-'94. When Many Worlds are Born Tonight came out, I was blown away! There were many tracks on it that I felt showcased Happy's brilliance in ways I hadn't heard since (Warpaint). And when I heard about ectofest, I decided that it was finally the time see her live.
     Anyway, I wanted to tell you all that seeing Happy live for the first time, was for me, a very moving experience. I see lots of live shows which are interesting but not really *moving*. While they're an enjoyable way to pass the time, very rarely do I see a live show that blows me off my        .
     In the early '90s, I had friends who saw Happy live shared with me their comments: very few said it was an "excellent live experience". Some said the sound quality was mediocre, some said that she was stiff on stage, some said that there was just too much "missing" from the recorded version. So I thought that she, like most of the musicians I listened to, was just better on CD than she was live. Remember, these comments were from friends who saw her many years ago.
     Anyway, I was not expecting a spectacular performance; I knew it would be OK, but I had low expectations.
     Well, my expectations were far surpassed that day. When she played "Many Worlds are Born Tonight", and "Ra is an Busy God", I was tripping on her music. My body was swaying side to side to the rhythm, and sometimes my eyes even teared up a bit. While I already knew quite well how easily Happy could change vocal ranges, seeing her do it live was something else entirely! The energy on the stage was just right.
     The Monty Python song, "Brave Sir Robin" was delightful, and when she played "winter" it knocked my socks off! I didn't even recognize the song at first, and thought it was a new unreleased track or something. (9/99, ezust@brainwashed.com)

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Yow,
     It was swell!
     When Happy joined Bon on the stage for Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street" it was magical. I enjoyed it more than the Black Canvas version. The stripped-down Happy show really appeals to me, no videos, lights. They are very cool but totally not necessary. It was drums, bass, guitars and keyboard, and Happy, who was in fine voice. She did bring a effects rack for loops, harmony and effects, but used it sparingly enough that it was unobtrusive.It was an incredible show. (7/99, jjh969@juno.com)

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Ectofest was a huge success in fulfilling my expectations and in serving as my own personal Woodstock. In particular, though, I had never seen Happy herself, and was glad to finally put a figure and a personality to The Voice. I am continually and increasingly impressed with the music on Many Worlds are Born Tonight—it has really grown on me, and it was distinct in style and nature and sound from everything else we heard that day. Happy's sense of humor was a tiny bit off-putting (though certainly not offensive), but she certainly did not seem nervous at all despite someone having said she used to have stagefright (not sure if this was just an observation or actually really true). (9/99)

I was thrilled to see Happy with Project Lo in chicago last week. The entire outfit was entertaining. As I had always imagined, the most startling thing about watching her perform is seeing her traverse the 4-octave range that is her trademark with complete ease. It is hard to believe even when you see it that this is just one single person hitting all those notes!
     It was a lovely evening. (11/99, mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

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I'll finally chime in with my thoughts on Happy's show at the El Flamingo last Tuesday night.
     Vickie had saved us a spot right up front. Unfortunately, as the show went on I found myself wishing I was up in the balcony instead, so I could see everything all at once. The light show was *way* too big for the venue, and the stage was so small that Kevin and Carl ended up standing on risers on either side in front of it. (I was about two feet from Carl, though, which was cool.) The projection screens were right behind Kevin and Carl, so there was no way to see both of them at once. That was a pity, because they were finally working, and some of the effects really needed to be seen on both screens simultaneously.
     Musically, the show was excellent. Happy needs to get her vocals higher in the mix, and they need to fix the vocal effects mike—"Cohabitants" didn't really work. Other than that, though, the show was much more together than I think it was in any of the previous shows, based on my experience in Bearsville and what I saw here about Philly and Troy. It's too bad they did the entire set all at once—there was enough response from the audience at the end to bring the band back for an encore, if there had been one left to do. I was surprised to see the club as full as it was—it was tiny, but considering WFUV had been promoting the show without having played a note of the album I hadn't expected much of a turnout. Hopefully there will be some word-of-mouth going in NYC now. (10/98)

And seeing her live, you can't believe how those sounds are coming out of her—yes, in the studio there are lots of overdubs, but she somehow manages to make those sounds in live performance with no seeming effort whatsoever. She can go from the bottom of her range to the top in the span of two notes, and even after seeing it several times it still stuns me when it happens.
     In between songs, she is hilarious. Painfully funny. She has no qualms about making fun of audience members as much as she makes fun of herself. (12/00 meth@smoe.org)

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the drummer kept the rhythm going all through roy (on the quiet spots he played hand drums along with the kick) which made the song really cook! in fact on almost every song the rhythms were very prominent, adding an urgency to the songs that's lacking on the cd
     happy's "operatic" singing on "100 years" was awesome!!
     "in hiding" was performed with happy and the two keyboardists only
     the keyboardist paul (i think) hughson (maybe?) had a great voice! i never thought that i'd ever say i didn't miss kelly bird singing with happy, but damned if he didn't do such a great job that the loss was barely noticed! (7/98)

just got back from happy's show in bearsville...one word to describe it...FANTASTIC!
     the hapster was her usual hysterically funny and witty self and her performance was at times awe-inspiring and overall just totally incredible!
     even though the show was plagued by various technical difficulties (the video screens were not cooperating) musically things seemed to go glitch-free.
     the band consisted of two keyboardists/vocalists, kevin bartlett on guitar, carl adami on bass, an absolutely incredible drummer, and happy on vocals—she used two microphones, one for her regular vocal and one for the treated vocals. awesome musicians! i'm embarrassed that i didn't write their names down because they deserve accolades for their great performances.
     several memorable moments: the appearance of "vlad, he who thwaps" onstage; happy's between song cd-rom game giveaway; the intelligent lights that didn't live up to their name ;-}; the funny blinking red lights in happy's hair; the weird hand lights used by happy and the drummer; the story about the cross-dresser that stole happy's silver glitter shoes; happy's dancing all over the stage—really getting into the rhythms and doing some great hand movements; kevin playing the violin part on "roy" on guitar; happy's vocals and hand dancing (as if she were sign(language)ing the lyrics) on the chariot (she got a big round of applause after this song).
     god, the show was fantastic and once all the minor glitches are ironed out it will be incredible! (10/98, cjmacs@concentric.net)

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I saw my first (Finally!!!) Happy gig at the Tin Angel in July and was truly awestricken. How can she just open her mouth and that sound comes out, why can't the rest of us do that?!! Even after hearing her records for years, it was quite an experience hearing/seeing it live. (8/99, KBolin0418@aol.com)

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My first (and so far only) live Happy experience was when I traveled to EctoFest 2000. It's one thing to hear that voice coming out of a recording, but to hear it coming out of her right in front of you is truly amazing.
     She's also very amusing in person, cracking jokes and making funny observations between songs. (6/02, stevev@hexadecimal.uoregon.edu)

Recommended first album:

Warpaint (but any other would do). (jbr@casetech.dk)

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I'd say Warpaint. It's her most popular album to date, so 10,000 people can't be wrong. Then, of course, 40 million own Thriller. (kyrlidis@templeton.cchem.berkeley.edu)

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Warpaint. You can draw a clear analytic distinction, when it comes to the feel of the music, between the "historic" Happy of the first four albums and the "modern" Happy of the more recent albums. The latter more closely reflects Happy's music as it is today. Warpaint was where it all started for me, and so is my sentimental favorite for that reason as well. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

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A good sampler is RhodeSongs. Probably most people prefer Warpaint. I fell in love initially with Building the Colossus. Well, I really like Rhodes II and Rearmament . . . Equipoise and Ecto have some wonderful songs too.... (jwaite@ucsd.edu)

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As others have mentioned, RhodeSongs is a good intro to Happy's music, but it tends to concentrate on her mellower songs. I'd go for Building The Colossus and Warpaint as good first albums (mine was Warpaint; it's absolutely brilliant) (they all are...!) if you want a broader sample of her work. Warpaint sure did the trick for me, so I guess I'll make that my first choice for you. Then Building The Colossus. Then again, Ecto is stunning...and I and II are amazing...and Rearmament has my all-time fave singing achievement...and Equipoise is brilliant...The Keep is a treasure.... Hopeless. I am hopeless.... (rlovejoy@comcast.net)

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I don't think The Keep would be such a bad intro. I started with Building the Colossus which i liked, but which is not very representative. and many recommend RhodeSongs as a starting point. (dmw@mwmw.com)

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i first got RhodeSongs and that is what hooked me. next to that, Warpaint is my favorite. Building The Colossus is too...too...hmmm...not pop. i love pop music. too percussion syncopated? i dunno. i like it, but i don't listen to it too much. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

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I'd recommend you start with The Keep, for two reasons: first, as it contains versions of songs spanning her whole career it's an excellent overview and introduction. Second, and that's just my personal opinion, I like her best in the stripped down, semi-acoustic mode. For me this is where the songs and her voice really shine.... This is also the reason my personal second favourite is RhodeSongs.
     If you don't like the style of Many Worlds are Born Tonight and since I personally remain underwhelmed by Equipoise but love Rhodes I, I'd suggest that you start with the others and leave Equipoise till last. (afries@zip.com.au)

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For me there is no doubt that Happy's seminal work (to date!) is Warpaint. In that album in particular I think that Happy's vision of how her songs should sound like on record was most well realised.
     If you prefer the acoustic side of Happy, I would suggest that you try to check out The Keep or Rearmament. Warpaint, like its successor Equipoise, has some of Happy's more fully instrumented music. (nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

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The Keep would be the best 'first' Happy CD to purchase. I think this CD can be summed up with just two words: Hauntingly Beautiful. (smolla@siscom.net)

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I usually start people off with Warpaint, especially if I am unsure of their taste in music. It seems to be the most accessible. After that, I suggest either RhodeSongs as a good diverse sampler of her work throughout the years, or The Keep if they are into acoustic music. Any of the three would be ok to start with...then discover the rest... :). Her first four releases "Rhodes I", "Rhodes II", "Rearmament", and "Ecto" have many fine acoustic songs, some of which appear on "RhodeSongs". These are from early in her career, though, and in some cases songs are more "demo" sounding. Still good stuff, though. (JavaHo@aol.com)

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I'd rank the albums:
     1. Many Worlds Are Born Tonight
     2. The Keep
     3. Equipoise
     4. Warpaint
     5. Building The Colossus
     6. Ecto
     7. Rearmament
     8. Rhodes II
     9. Rhodes I
     I listen to all of Happy's CDs and give them a chance to sink in. I know that I will enjoy them all very well once I am really know them well. It will depend on my mood which one I listen to at any given point in time. (wpm@value.net)

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Best album? That would be a tie between Rearmament and Warpaint, with Many Worlds are Born Tonight not far behind. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

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Warpaint has many of my favorites, as does Equipoise. For bubbly joyous songs, one of my faves of Happy's is "Terra Incognita", which is preceded by a song of sadness I always associate with Persephone's descent into the underworld in my head, "Lay Me Down". Both are on Warpaint—I find myself hitting "replay" on both of these songs.... (rholmes@cs.stanford.edu)

———

As my first ever Happy album Ecto will always keep a special place in my heart. I also used it convert a few people to her music and it mostly worked (3 out of 4 tries) so I guess it is a good starting point. (Yves.Denneulin@imag.fr)

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I think RhodeSongs is a good place to start, as it gives perspective on her career. (jeffw@smoe.org)

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My favorite Happy album seems to cycle among Warpaint (which is a sentimental favorite, as it was my first Happy disc), Ecto, and Rearmament; however, I find myself considering Rearmament my favorite/the best more often and for longer periods as time goes by. (Greg.Jumper@Eng.Sun.COM)

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I have at some time obsessed over all Happy's albums except for maybe Rhodes I &II. My favorite is still Warpaint followed closely by (contrary to recent popular opinion) Equipoise. Many Worlds Are Born Tonight may change all that. I've hardly played anything else since I got it. (spike45@sos.net)

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While I completely agree that The Keep would be my first choice as a first album to hear of Happy's, I wouldn't think of Rearmament as a good place for the more acoustic Happy sound. Maybe I should add that for me 'acoustic' is like, 'unplugged'...as in songs with an acoustic guitar or piano. And while for me "For we believe" is one of the most beautiful acoustic Happy songs, the other songs on Rearmament are much more keyboard-oriented, even though the arrangements are quite sparse and it's not as fully instrumented as, for example, on Warpaint.
     When I'm in an "acoustic Happy mood" I tend to play The Keep, Rhodesongs, or Rhodes I, the very first Happy album. For some reason I don't listen to Rhodes II as often, though it's sort of Rhodes I-s twin album.
     But I think you can't go wrong with any Happy album, they're all great! (I bet you didn't expect that answer... ;-) ) (Marion)

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Although Rhodesongs has spent a lot of time in my changer, I think that maybe the missed emotion is due to something that may have been touched on but not fully explored here. There are certainly songs I relate to emotionally either musically or lyrically, but I think the mood is often set by an entire album. Some albums can take you through a range of emotion, but there is a common thread or mood that one associates with the grouping that really cements the feeling. Because Rhodesongs is a compilation of recordings from different periods, it serves as a wonderful sampler and a very nice mix release for those who like a little variety. It kind of jumps around, though, and that can make it difficult for one to sustain a mood long enough to bring about an emotional response. By contrast, The Keep, which is also a collection of songs from different periods in Happy's career, is primarily performed with vocal and acoustic guitar. When I first heard it, I didn't immediately identify with one particular song, but the album certainly had an impact on me. It took many listenings for me to begin discovering each song as a separate entity, but I was so moved by the feeling of the collection that I couldn't help but listen over and over. Warpaint (especially the song "Lay Me Down") and Equipoise (with the very intense and not often mentioned "Closer") also have strong "personalities", and I play them when I am in very specific moods. I have never warmed to Building The Colossus like others have, and it has taken me a while to warm to Many Worlds Are Born Tonight. It took many listenings for me to connect emotionally, but I now am moved by "Looking Over Cliffs" and "Winter" especially. Perhaps this is because of my preference for acoustic instruments over electronics and I just miss the acoustic guitar that I relate so closely with my favourite Happy songs. (JavaHo@aol.com)

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Well, I think Warpaint &Equipoise are Happy's most commercial albums, along with the Rhodesongs compilation, and use those to recommend her music to others. But, when I reach for a Happy CD to listen to over and over again, Rearmament gets grabbed most often. I especially love "Be Careful What You Say".
     Ecto (the album) seems to rank high with a lot of folks, but it's the one Happy disc that just hasn't hooked me yet. I'll get to love it, I'm sure, if I just stop playing Rearmament instead.... (dejablue@clt.mindspring.com)

———

I hate to see anyone judge Happy by Many Worlds are Born Tonight. I respect it but don't particularly like it (excuse me ectophiles if this is blasphemy, it hurts to say, but is true). I do however love every single one of Happy's other albums. The Keep was my intro to Happy Rhodes and I loved it the moment I heard it. It is sort of the Happy Rhodes unplugged album, and lacks the overpowering electronic gimickry which, I think, was the thing I most disliked about Many Worlds are Born Tonight. The songs on The Keep are also just all around better in my opinion. Please try The Keep before making any final judgments about Happy. My two cents worth. (Matthew_Woods@usa.net)

———

I *love* the version of "Temporary and Eternal" on The Keep, but since it was the first version I heard, the one on Equipoise never did that much for me. Just to add to the disagreement, I'm one of the people who doesn't listen to Ecto much, but really *loves* Equipoise and Building the Colossus. I put them in an entirely different class from Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, which is a lot harder to get into. Although I could sort of get Many Worlds are Born Tonight from a theoretical point of view, it wasn't until I heard Happy do it live that it really clicked: "Oh, this really IS Happy Rhodes music!"
     I don't think it's about the electronics at all. When I listen to music I often like it or dislike it according to the image it projects of the person who wrote or performed it. To me Happy's music has always carried with it a very strong sense of her unique personality, intelligence, and sense of life, of the person behind the music. But there's something about Many Worlds are Born Tonight that's so...polished...that it's hard to get behind the music to the person.
     The one thing that keeps me coming back to Rhodesongs is my recollection of the fact that every time I listen to it, I think, "You know, that's a damn good album; I really ought to listen to it more." (psfblair@ix.netcom.com)

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My favourite albums are: Rearmament (the songs from that album I've heard first, so they are very important to me), Equipoise (excellent album, if I would compare it with one of Kate Bush's albums, I would compare it with The Dreaming. There is so much in happening this music. Every time I listen to it I discover something new), Rhodes I, Many Worlds Are Born Tonight, The Keep. My least favourites albums are Ecto and Warpaint, but they still have great songs. (ariusz@tk.net.pl)

Recommended first songs:

I am really stuck on "Save our souls" (either of the acoustic versions) when I want to play something by Happy for someone. It's such a beautiful song. I'm also quite taken by her version of "O Holy Night", although that has something to do with the fact that I love that song so much, and she does it so breathtakingly. (colford@chlotrudis.org)

———

"Phobos". It's never failed. (cinnamon@one.net)

———

"Save our Souls" from The Keep. I like it a lot more than the one on RhodeSongs, and since the only Happy Rhodes CD that I don't have is Equipoise, I haven't heard the original. I also like "The Wretches Gone Awry", but I think that Happy sounds a little bit like a country singer on that track, so I avoid playing it in isolation. (jjhanson@att.net)

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"Words Weren't Made For Cowards"—what a powerful song. Though the first song I heard was "Phobos" and I was hooked from the start. (Neile)

———

"Oh the Drears" is my favorite Happy song. (stuart@sph.emory.edu)

———

Best song? Hmmm. It could be "'TIl The Dawn Breaks" or it could be "All Things", or "Looking over Cliffs", or "Cohabitants" (that one is just so cool)...but the one I'm going to have to pick is "To Be E. Mortal", I guess. Not because it's the most brilliant or emotive thing she ever wrote, but because it had such a stunning effect on me once. (jsorva@niksula.hut.fi)

Recordings:


Further info:

  • Happy toured as a vocalist with Project Lo, and has appeared on their albums, as well as adding vocals to "Rouler" on Hansford Rowe's No Other, the title track on Samite's Stars to Share, and the first track on William Ackerman's 2001 album.
  • She contributed instrumental tracks to: Aural Gratification Vol. 1 & Aural Gratification Vol. 2


Thanks to Philip Sainty for work on this entry.

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