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Slapp Happy was a German/British avant- progressive rock band, with members Anthony Moore (keyboards), Peter Blegvad (guitar) and Dagmar Krause (vocals). The group formed in Germany in 1972 and moved in 1974 to England where the Group was integrated in the band Henry Cow. Such cooperation, however, ended soon afterwards and Slapp Happy split up. From 1982 there were several short reunions to work on an opera, to record a cd and touring by Japan.
Slapp Happy's sound was characterised by the original and idiosyncratic singing style by Dagmar Krause, that came with some very appreciated, but hated by others.
Slapp Happy was formed in 1972 in the German city of Hamburg by British experimental composer Anthony Moore. Moore had two avant-garde/experimental solo albums recorded for the label Polydor in Germany.When his third record was rejected because it was not commercial enough, he proposed a popproject for, with his girlfriend , Dagmar Krause from Hamburg, and an American friend who was visiting, Peter Blegvad.In that period could not sing because of voice problems, but when Dagmar Moore and Belgvad claimed that their own singing voice "terrible" was, she agreed to sing for the group.
With krautrock group Faust as their backing band, Slapp Happy Sort Of debut album for Polydor Germany in 1972. The songs were simple, primitive pop songs; a "naive rock" as Peter Blegvad put it. Together with Dagmar Krause's still pure and innocent sounding voice, was the typical sound of Slapp Happy established. Commercially scored the LP not very strong, especially because the group refused to perform live "like a real pop group".
In 1973 the band back into the studio pulled in, again with Faust as support, for their second album Casablanca Moon to record. After the commercial failure of Sort Of, Polydor had demanded more pop-sounding material, and so Moore and Blegvad wrote with beautiful melodies and poetic lyrics. Polydor was still not satisfied and refused to release the album.
The group then left Polydor Germany and moved to London, where they soon a contract signed to emerging Virgin Records label, which was looking for experimental bands. Faust and Henry Cow had already signed. In the Virgin's Manor Studios in Oxfordshire, Slapp Happy Casablanca Moon with the help of studio musicians, and Virgin brought the album out under the name Slapp Happy in 1974. The numbers were more sophisticated than this lyrically as musical on Sort Of and their eccentricity showed Slapp Happy's ambivalence towards pop music. Slapp Happy and Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield were financial successes for Virgin in 1974 and helped finance non-commercial Virgin-expenditure from that time. Slapp Happy was later re-released as Casablanca Moon.
It was only in 1980 brought the label Recommended Records the original version of Casablanca Moon (with Faust) as Acnalbasac Noom (the words of the original title in reverse direction). A comparison of the two releases revealed two very different arrangements. Felt rough and unsophisticated feel of Acnalbasac Noom (which appealed to many fans), whereas Casablanca Moon rather sentimental and "dreamy" was, with complex arrangements, including a String Orchestra.
In november 1974 Slapp Happy invited Henry Cow, one oriented avant-rock group, from politics to as band in support to play on their next LP for Virgin. The two bands Desperate Straights on names under the name "Slapp Happy/Henry Cow". The success of this collaboration was surprising, given the differences between the two bands, and the groups decided to go together. Desperate Straights was the perfect mix between avant-garde music and nostalgic pop. Sometimes the music radiated the sense of a Berlin cabaret out with some avant-garde jazz.
The merged group returned to the studio in early 1975 to Henry Cow's In Praise of Learning record (as "Henry Cow/Slapp Happy"). Besides Dagmar's singing was the only substantial contribution from Slapp Happy to be found in the song "War" by Moore and Blegvad, that the album's political aggression in the paste well. Differences in approach between the two bands, however, eventually resulted in the departure of Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad, indicating that the music of Henry Cow too seriously (and politics) was to their taste. Dagmar Krause, however, elected to remain with Henry Cow, who needed a vocalist to support their music. However, this meant the end of Slapp Happy as a band.
Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad then both solo went further. It was only in 1982 the trio briefly came together again to record a new single Slapp Happy 's, namely "everybody's Slimmin'" and play it in the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1983.
The threesome worked together again in 1991 , this time a televisionopera "Camera", commissioned by the BBC. The work was based on an original idea by Dagmar Krause, with words by Peter Blegvad and music by Anthony Moore. Dagmar played the lead character "Melusina." The opera was two years later on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom broadcast. The soundtrack Camera was released on cd in 2000, although under the names "Dagmar Krause, Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad". With the exception of the vocals of Dagmar, was the music of Camera played by artists outside the band, and thus, strictly speaking, noCamera really Slapp Happy album.
In 1997, Slapp Happy again came together to create a new studio album Ça Vanames, namely, on Richard Branson's new V2label. It was Slapp Happy's first album since 1975 and the music picked up that they stopped and quirky pop songs. Unlike before however, this time the played music all by itself. They played all the instruments the members and used a digital studio to produce a layered sound to many of the tracks.This leaving Slappy happy's "acoustic sound" disappointed some fans, but the album was generally well received.
In 1994 yielded Slapp Happy (& friends) a distinctive contribution to the album Flotsam Jetsam by Robert Wyatt on the number A Little Something.
Slapp Happy's music was eccentric pop music with an "avant-garde" box. One took inspiration from a variety of musical concepts, such as waltzes, bossa nova's, French chansons and tango's. the texts were literate and playful, with a vote of dreamy to sinister ranged.
However, it was above all the unusual and mysterious high voice by Dagmar Krause that the band really did stand out. Her singing with German accent went from a soft melodic singing to an Armageddon style as typified on In Praise of Learning .
Slapp Happy's music one must learn to appreciate slightly, but is for those who love enchanting and intriguing.
These are albums by Slappy Happy (no bootlegs) with there the year in which they first appeared:
- 1972 Sort Of (lp Polydor, Germany)
- 1974 Slapp Happy (also known as Casablanca Moon) (lp Virgin Records, United Kingdom)
- 1975 Desperate Straights (withHenry Cow") (lp Virgin Records, United Kingdom)
- 1975 In Praise of Learning (as "Henry Cow/Slapp Happy") (lp Virgin Records, United Kingdom)
- 1980 Acnalbasac Noom (lp Recommended Records, United Kingdom)
- 1998 Ça Va (cd V2 Records, United Kingdom)
- 2000 Camera (as "Dagmar Krause/Anthony Moore/Peter Blegvad") (cd Blueprint records, United Kingdom)
- 2001 Live in Japan (cd FMN Records, Japan)