Erik the Butcher Happy Land (Animatronic)

Texas Platters

Record Reviews

Erik the Butcher

Happy Land (Animatronic)

Erik The Butcher, former Golden Arm Trio component and current Tosca member, is a bass player who selfishly decided to record Happy Land. Selfish in the benign sense that he grabbed some friends and booked some studio time to put to tape some originals and standards. Except in ETB's case, the friends are folks like Tosca bandleader Glover Gill and bass clarinetist deluxe Ben Saffer. And the studio in question is none other than Music Lane, a gem in Austin's recording crown. The first of Happy Land's nine tracks, the under-two-minute "Caffeinated Glory," opens with what sounds like Dick Dale strumming on bass (!), quickly joined by the spooky splashes and squeals of a Hammond B-4, courtesy of Gill. Austin's über-key man also provides the stately, gorgeous piano intro on Sammy Cahn's "I Should Care," an instrumental also showcasing ETB's four-string prowess. The cover of U2's "All I Want Is You" is respectably rendered à la Chicago's Local H (i.e. vocals joined by melodically heavy midbass and drums), while Flyin' Mice/Rubinchik's Orkestyr veteran Ben Saffer offers a choice cameo on "I Thought I Knew," its one-take energy captured like the rest of Happy Land -- by one of Austin's finest sonic sculptors, John Croslin. Sometimes it's good to be selfish.

**.5

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