Happy Go Licky

  • Happy Go Licky
  • Happy Go Licky EP (Peterbilt) 1988 
  • Will Play (Peterbilt/Dischord) 1997 

Although Happy Go Licky has the same line-up as its predecessor, Rites of Spring, it’s not difficult to distinguish the two DC ensembles. The entire recorded output of the short-lived Happy Go Licky is from soundboard recordings from the group’s seven live performances. Unlike Rites of Spring, whose songs were more melodic and less buzzy than earlier DC contemporaries (Faith, Embrace, Government Issue et al.) and who singlehandedly put the “emo” in emocore, Happy Go Licky veered off toward new territory. For Guy Picciotto and Brendan Canty, who would later become half of Fugazi, it’s a comfortable and logical stepping stone between the diverse sounds of their former and future bands. Bassist Michael Fellows (later of Royal Trux and Air Miami) and Edward Janney (vocals/tapes/guitar) rounded out the foursome, whose sole release during its existence was a six-song live 12-inch. Substandard recording aside, the urgent Gang of Four-ish guitars, syncopated rhythms, Picciotto’s heart-wrenching lyrics and Janney’s washed-out guitar and tape manipulations (à la Mission of Burma) makes Happy Go Licky a more melodic counterpart for Soulside or Ignition. Almost 10 years after its original release, Dischord (with the band’s own Peterbilt label) compiled an additional 15 songs, added them to the cuts on the original EP and released the posthumous Will Play CD.

[Henry H. Owings]

See also: Rites of Spring