I have mentioned the music of Happy Rhodes, early in my blogging, but I have not dedicated an entire post to this truly talented artist. So let's begin, shall we?
The year was...1993? I think. I'm not sure, but I think. I was working as a sales clerk at Tom Tom Music, in Sandy, Utah. It was the greatest indie music store in the valley, and pure recreation for me. I used to browse the pages of Billboard magazine, looking to see what was hot, etc. I would read the record reviews, trying to discover new and exciting music. I happened across a review for an album called "Equipoise", by an artist named Happy Rhodes. In the article, it mentioned how Happy Rhodes had such a range with her voice, that she went from a "near identical Kate Bush soprano, to a "near masculine alto". Now, having been a huge Kate Bush fan at the time, I was absolutely intrigued. I decided to order a copy in, to give it a listen. Little did I know what I was in store for...
A few days later, the disc had arrived, and I immediately purchased it, and threw it into the store CD player. From the opening bars of "Runners", I was completely mesmerized. Truly, she did sound like Kate Bush... when she was singing high, but when she was singing low... that is an entirely different story. Ladies and gentlemen, Ms. Happy Rhodes' 'near masculine alto' is a genuine baritone. Not just a baritone, but she can sing lower than ME!
Back in the early 90's, all we ever seemed to hear about was the vocal range of Mariah Carey. Mariah has two levels in her voice. She has "singing" Mariah, and she has "screeching" Mariah. That was it. Either a beautiful singing voice, or a horrific, shrill noise. Happy Rhodes, on the other hand, can go from her high soprano to low baritone in one series of descending phrases. Or vice versa.
So, if THAT isn't enough to impress you, then let me expound on my further Happy Rhodes purchases. I found it impossible to order the remainder of the Happy Rhodes catalog into our store, so I had to go elsewhere to get her music. Her first six (well, seven, if you count a compilation) discs were released on her own record label, started by her then boyfriend, Kevin Bartlett. Aural Gratification Records only featured a few artists, but Happy Rhodes was definitely the main artist on the label. And, as I began to get her earlier albums, I learned that on the first four albums, not only did Happy write all her own music (with the exception of one song, written by a friend, appearing on Rhodes 1), she played EVERY instrument, and sang EVERY vocal. AND to top things off, she did her own artwork. Now, as she began her fifth album "Warpaint", she utilized guest musicians, but still maintained most of the artistic control.
I will include a few pictures, including album art, which will hopefully shed some light on the creative genius of Happy Rhodes. But first, if you have the time, open another window on your net browser, and go to www.youtube.com, and search Happy Rhodes. You will get countless live performances, which will showcase exactly what I have been talking about. She does some Peter Gabriel covers, which are truly remarkable, including one of "Mercy Street", my personal favorite song by Peter Gabriel. You could spend hours listening (and watching) to what youtube.com has to offer.
Also, Happy collaborated with Windham Hill Records founder, William Ackerman, on one of his albums, recording one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Look for the song, "Before We Left This All Behind", from his album, HEARING VOICES.
Over the years, Happy's music has become harder and harder to find, with her early catalog drifting in and out of print. To this day, she still struggles to get enough money to finish her current projects, but her cult status among her die hard fans continues to grow.
To more fully understand all things Happy Rhodes, go to her website: http://www.auntiesocialmusic.com/
Included is a biography, news, discography, etc. And don't forget to look at all the album artwork. It would always amuse me, when I listened to her music at Tom Tom Music. Without fail, someone would come up and inquire who was responsible for the beautiful music that I was listening to. I would show them a disc, complete with painted artwork of a monster or alien, and they would politely give it back, and say: "Ummm... maybe I'll get it next time." Happy's eccentric artwork was too much for the conservative people of Sandy, Utah. But in her defense, she isn't a satanist. She simply liked drawing monsters and aliens because she didn't need to worry about them being "anatomically correct". Her words, not mine.
Honestly, people... I don't make these things up.
Oh, and we used to think that Happy looked like Blossom... you remember Blossom? From the TV? With Joey? You don't? Oh... you do... yeah, THAT Blossom! Don't ya think?