(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
In October of 2002, King Crimson presented the world with another of it's calling cards. Like VROOOM from nearly a decade ago (wow, has it been that long already??) happy with what you have to be happy with is a brief snapshot of the band at the time apparently released to stir interest in their upcoming album. Longer than the average CD single and it also seems premature to call this an EP, happy brought sounds of a new Crim to the world.
Here's a rundown of the tracks:
"Bude" - This was the first taste of what I'd venture to guess is a theme throughout this and The Power To Believe. Short snippets of Adrian's voice filtered through an auto-tuning device that makes it sound like he's using a vocoder. This creates a rather surreal effect that recurs several times on the disc.
"Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With" - A slightly longer version than what would eventually appear on TPTB. I believe the guitar solo was edited down a bit. Other than that it's basically the same heavy and fun tune. I really like the lyrics to this one, it reminds me of the play on words from Matching Mole's "Signed Curtain". One interesting thing to note is that on the liner notes this is called an "edit from the forthcoming album EleKtriK." I think they must have had several potential titles in mind, another one I remember was "Nuovo Metal" or was that just the name of the tour?
"Mie Gakure" - A nice little "soundscapes" piece from Fripp. Although only two minutes long, it reminds me of how beautiful and powerful these works can be.
"She Shudders" - Another short "vocoder" bit from Ade
"Eyes Wide Open" - This one is called an "acoustic version" on the song list. Although not necessarily "acoustic," this is a more stripped down version of the song that appeared on The Power To Believe. Most notably changed are many of the drum tracks throughout the song. There are some African sounding rhythms that give this ballad a more haunted feel.
"Shoganai" - I believe this is Pat's oriental percussion solo section from the song "The Power To Believe II." Even more exquisite sounding on its own.
"I Ran" - More "vocoder." I think there may be even more of these bits here than on the album.
"Potatoe Pie" - This song may quite possibly be one of the most radical departures ever for the band: a straight blues piece! There are no soundscapes sounds, no crazy electronic drumming, no blazing Warr guitar acrobatics and no strange vocal effects. The lyrics are fairly odd though: "It makes you feel like a horseshoe in a swimming pool, cause you know you don't belong." When I first heard this one I was fairly unimpressed but it's since become probably my favorite from this collection of songs. This is the only place you can hear this one too.
"Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part IV)" - Excellent live version of this piece from The ConstruKction Of Light album recorded in Nashville in 2001. This rendition omits the vocals at the end which makes it even more powerful sounding.
"Clouds" - The last of the short "vocoder" pieces on the CD. This song also contains the "hidden" track "Einstein's Relatives," a crazy sound collage of studio buffoonery and other various things. Here you get a rare glimpse of the lighter side of Fripp who can be heard making orgasmic sounds over the phone and offering profound quotes like "We move forward by coming from" and "It's dear old uncle Bobby!" These quotes are interjected between some really fun musical parts.
Although happy with what you have to be happy with is only around 34 minutes long, the band did manage to cram quite a good deal of great music in that short amount of time. This is definitely worth picking up, especially as a companion piece to The Power To Believe. I'm happy with it.