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Death's Crown

by Happy The Man

supported by
Sven B. Schreiber (sbs)
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Sven B. Schreiber (sbs) Although this album was released in 1999, after "Happy The Man" already hat called it quits for the first time, the music on it actually predates all other releases of the band, since it has been recorded between 1974 and 1976. It's a rehearsal room recording, hence the somewhat flat sound. But who wants to moan about that... it's great that an audible documentation of this early work, mainly conceived by Frank Wyatt, exists in the first place. Since I'm a big fan of Frank Wyatt's music, this album is sort of a "rough diamond" to me. Some of the tracks sound familiar - in fact, they reappeared later on the regular "Happy The Man" albums. Favorite track: Death's Crown - part 7.
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Composed & performed in late 1974, Death's Crown was written as a collaborative work with dancers, actors, lighting & coordinated slide shows - a multi-media event staged at a local dinner theatre in their original hometown of Harrisonburg, VA. The piece was performed several times, but was not a regular part of their repertoire, although parts of the work were regularly performed by the band in concert. Rehearsal tapes of the band performing Death's Crown were recently found & this release marks the first time that any of this material has ever been heard on record.

"Sure, the sound is substandard but the initial recording is rather good and considering its previously unreleased - and still little known - status, it is a real find.
The main track 'Death's Crown' is presented in eleven parts; 38 minutes of some of the most stunningly good symphonic rock from an American band you will ever hear.
The piece is not perfect, they hadn't quite worked out all the kinks and connections before the project was shelved but considering both its musical accomplishments for the time and its unearthed importance, these things are easily overlooked.
The record tops off with two excellent tracks, 'New York Dreams Suite' and 'Merlin of the High Places' and I believe deserves a very high rating."-progarchives

"Throughout the 1990s, Cuneiform Records has released essential Happy the Man material that had been overlooked by the band's label Arista in the mid-'70s. Death's Crown presents three archival recordings made in 1974 and 1976 in Happy the Man's rehearsal room.
The sound quality is rather poor (the voice is particularly lost in the background), but it is still enjoyable and the beauty of the music makes up for the inconvenience. The record opens with the title track, "Death's Crown," an 11-part suite of 38 minutes. Composed in 1974, "Death's Crown" was originally a multimedia performance including dancers, actors, and a light and slide show. The piece has been performed on numerous occasions, and the band later integrated some parts into its live show (as an example, part five appears on the Live CD as the track "Open Book"). It is the tale of a man's journey into the other side of life, sung in the most emotional way by Frank Wyatt. The main musical theme, which pops up here and there in different forms, is of astonishing strength, even for Happy the Man. The parts segue into each other seamlessly and the listener comes back on the ground after an amazingly short 38-minute experience. The whole piece conveys the lyricism, finesse, and instrumental richness unique to Happy the Man.
The CD is completed by two other tracks, a pre-album version of "New York Dreams Suite" (nine minutes) and the unreleased "Merlin of the High Places" (seven minutes). Death's Crown is more than an archival document: It represents the crucial creative stage of one of America's best progressive rock bands." – François. Couture / AllMusic


released January 18, 1999

Dan Owen: vocals, classical guitar, percussion, additional bass on New York Dream's Suite
Frank Wyatt: electric piano, vocals
Kit Watkins: organ, Moog, string ensemble, clavinet, flute, recorder, sound effects
Stanley Whitaker: guitar, recorder
Rick Kennell: bass
Mike Beck: percussion

Death's Crown and New York Dream's Suite were recorded in the rehearsal room at the band house on New York Ave, Harrisonburg, VA during the last half of 1974.
Merlin Of The High Places was recorded in the rehearsal room of the band house on Kenmore St, Arlington, VA in early 1976.


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Cuneiform Records Washington, D.C.

Cuneiform Records is an independent record label releasing adventurous, boundary-bursting music by artists from around the world.

Founded in 1984.
Based in Washington D.C.

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