Casablanca Moon/Desperate Straights

Casablanca Moon/Desperate Straights

by Slapp Happy
     
 
Avant popsters Slapp Happy get the two-fer treatment from Virgin on this 1999 CD. The first 11 tracks were originally released in 1974 as the group's eponymously titled Virgin label debut (and are not the same versions of the tunes recorded earlier with Faust, first intended for release by Polydor, and

Overview

Avant popsters Slapp Happy get the two-fer treatment from Virgin on this 1999 CD. The first 11 tracks were originally released in 1974 as the group's eponymously titled Virgin label debut (and are not the same versions of the tunes recorded earlier with Faust, first intended for release by Polydor, and ultimately issued by Recommended Records -- and by Cuneiform with bonus tracks -- under the title Acnalbasac Noom). The group's songwriting had improved since 1972's Sort of...Slapp Happy, and Dagmar Krause's German chanteuse-influenced vocals were presented in catchier settings, although some prefer the comparatively unsophisticated and rockish Faust-backed versions from Acnalbasac Noom to the re-recorded Casablanca Moon tracks, which are backed by session musicians and even a string section. In either case, the lyrics are witty and oddball without being pretentious. Tracks like "Mr. Rainbow" recall Yoko Ono's early-'70s song-oriented material, with an important difference: Krause's vocals are much better than Ono's, while just as distinctive. "The Secret" could even be a potential commercial single. The remaining tracks here are from 1975's Desperate Straights, a surprisingly melodic album (especially considering that it is a collaborative effort with Henry Cow), light on the art school angst and heavy on the playfulness, which one would hardly expect from such determined socialists as these. But here it is: "Some Questions About Hats" sounds like a Kurt Weill outtake, and "A Worm Is at Work" gallops along with a sweet tune. Krause remains restrained and not given to flights of horrible fancy. "Strayed" is reminiscent of Kevin Ayers' brand of art rock, and most of the songs clock in under two minutes. But never fear: the album ends on the eight-minute "Caucasian Lullaby," a minimal woodwind piece that suddenly bursts into one last jab of Krause-ian despair. With a total of 24 tracks, this two-fer is a worthy purchase with a generous helping of Slapp Happy's idiosyncratic yet often accessible work from the 1970s. ~ Richie Unterberger & Ted Mills

Product Details

Release Date:
12/28/1999
Label:
Emi Import
UPC:
0724383917426
catalogNumber:
839174
Rank:
47600

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