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Song of the day! 'Dawn', Slapp Happy

"Dawn, he's in a postcard of the dawn,
Where the knives of light
have left the dark night tattered and torn"

Love, love, LOVE those opening lines.  And since I got me a copy of 'Casablanca Moon' on CD, I can't get this song out of my brain. ^_^

I first heard Slapp Happy when someone listened to some of my songs and decided that they were vaguely reminiscent of that sort of thing... which is entirely flattering, and I only wish I could claim to be that good!!  Anyway, he made me a cassette tape (remember those??!) of both versions of 'Casablanca Moon'.  And I rather fell in love with the songs.  It's taken me until now to get a copy on CD.  This music is quirky, amusing, witty, literate, filled with delicious wordplay.  The people involved in the band were all rather avant garde-ish and this was their take on pop music.  Well, I only wish all pop music sounded like it!  It's got cabaret/Weill feelings to it, is whimsical and tells curious anecdotes about interesting characters.  Slapp Happy ended up collaborating with Henry Cow/Art Bears - somewhat more 'difficult' stuff.  (But as with all 'difficult' music... if you've mastered the art of listening to Captain Beefheart, then, well, almost anything is at least palatable/comprehensible to you, whether or not you actually like it!)

You will certainly love Slapp Happy if you like Sparks, or other music that is generally labelled as 'art pop'. :-)

Back to 'Dawn'...  I love the imagery in these lyrics.  What the song is about I'm really not entirely sure.  But it has a sort of espionage/adventure overtone to it.  'He' seems to be escaping from something/someone, or trying to.

The firmamental cars
On the highway of the stars
Are doing ninety for your love
He's in a corner on the right
The sole survivor of the night
And it's you he's thinking of

You, and you only think of him
Dropping him a line
'Cause he's got no time to swim
They're closing all the doors
To his existential shores
They'll leave him naked and alone
And you can't help him now
He's in the waters of the South -
Sinking like a stone...

Come all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant

Running from the snapping jaws,
You know he ain't got time to pause
There's one last door between him and you
Look out babe, he'll be coming through
As soon as you admit that you're the cause

Gone, with a squad of crooked creatures
You saw a film of his escape
But you hardly recognised his features.
His seer's sight had lied
About the other side
No-one was waiting when you arrived
You dared not hesitate
Even so, you got there late
Who takes who for one last ride?

Come all ye faithful
Joyful and triumphant

(copyright Moore/Blegvad)

The music: I love the brass in the arrangement (on the 'polished' version).  To me the key words to describe it would be urgency and tension.  And melodrama!  Dagmar Krause's voice has this odd combination of high-pitched blues singer and vulnerable girl.  The best way I can think to describe it is to say that she sounds like a 'real person' singing, rather than a bland, polished, tutored singer.  You could well imagine stumbling into a bohemian dive in 1920s Berlin and hearing such a voice.  Wreathed in smoke, competing with the up and down hum of other people's angst-filled conversation. :-)

And now I am going to go back to work, like a good girl...


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