Slapp Happy just played at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London; a friend /begged/ me to get him a ticket "they've been bringing happiness into my life since 1983, but I've never seen them" he said. So I went too, despite having never heard a note of their music. I liked it, a lot -- so much I bought this album (and Camera) in the foyer on the way out. It's difficult to describe. If you ever saw the "Leviathan" cartoons in the Independent on Sunday, you should know that Peter Blegvad is the songwriter/guitar player for Slapp Happy, and in some ways it's the musical equivalent of the giant baby. Contradictory: happy/sad, uplifting music about loss and abandonment, superficial and profound, simple and complex (musically and lyrically). There aren't really any easy comparisons. Dagmar's voice reminded me slightly of Bjork, albeit without the histrionic effects. Musically, you could pigeon-hole this as 'jazz-folk', although personally I probably wouldn't have listened to it if I'd heard that term. It provides a sense of contentment, enrichment, soothing, reconciliation and acceptance (there's a better word for what I'm trying to say, I can't recall it, argh!) ... wonderful.
I think the thing I like most about "Sort Of" is that it sounds like people thinking aloud about the kind of band that they could be. If the Velvet Underground and Nico had run an antiques shop, they might have made this album in between attending to their infrequent customers.
I bought Casanblanca Moon after hearing a Worm At Work by Slapp Happy/Henry Cow and I loved the album. Sort Of was unobtainable but years later it was rereleased by R&R and when I first heard it, I was knocked out by the opening track Just A Conversation. The rest of the album might not match Just A Conversation but is still very good. Blue Flower is another stand out track that eventually the Pale Saints did an excellent cover of. And Peter Blebvad's voice blends silkly with Dagmar's on the lovely Little Girls World. This album is as pretty as its cover.
I was always dissapointerd with what happened to Slapp Happy, their joining with Henry Cow ruined them. Henry Cow who were one dreadful band; if only Slapp Happy could have retained the fragile delicate beauty of this album and Casablanca Moon.