Stackridge


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1970-73)

- Billy Bent ( aka Billy Sparkle) - - drums, percussion

- Andy Davis (aka Andy Cresswell-Davis --

  guitar, keyboards, vocals

- Mike Evans - violin, vocals

- Mike "Mutter" Slater -- flute, vocals

- Jim "Crun" Walter -- bass

- James Warren -- guitar, vocals

 

  line up 1 (1970-73)

- Andy Davis (aka Andy Cresswell-Davis --

  guitar, keyboards, vocals

NEW - Keith Gemmell -- sax, clarinet (replaced Mike Slater)

NEW - Paul Karas -- bass (replaced Jim Walter)

NEW - Roy Morgan -- drums, percussion (replaced Billy Bent)

 

  line up x (1976-77)

- Andy Davis -- vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar

- Keith Gemmell -- sax clarinet

- Dave Lawson -- keyboards

NEW - Mike 'Mutter' Slater ,-- flute, keyboards

- Peter Van Hooke -- drums, percussion

NEW - Jim 'Crun' Walter -- bass, lead guitar

 

  line up x (1989-)

- Mike Evans -- violin, cello

- Jim 'Crun' Walter -- bass, lead guitar

- James Warren -- vocals, lead guitar, bass

 

 

  line up x (1999)

- Mike Evans -- violin, vocals

NEW - John Miller -- keyboards, vocals

- Tim Robinson -- drums, percussion

- Richard Stubbings -- flute, accordion, keyboards, guitar,

  vocals

- Jim "Crun" Walter -- bass

- James Warren -- guitar, vocals

 

  line up x (2000)

- Mike Evans -- violin, vocals

- John Miller -- keyboards, vocals

- Tim Robinson -- drums, percussion

- Richard Stubbings -- flute, accordion, keyboards, guitar,

  vocals

NEW - Ian Towers -- keyboards, vocals, guitar (replaced 

  John Miller)

- Jim "Crun" Walter -- bass

- James Warren -- guitar, vocals

 

 

 

 

Billy "Sparkle" Bent (drums, 1970-73), Mike "Mutter" Slater (flute, vocals, 1970-73, 1974-76), James Warren (guitar, vocals, 1970-73, 1998-present), Mike Evans (violin, vocals, 1970-73, 1998-present), Andy Davis (guitar, keyboards, vocals, 1970-76), Jim "Crun" Walter (bass, 1971-73, 1974-76, 1998-present), Rod Bowkett (keyboards, 1973-74), Keith Gemmell (saxophone, clarinet, flute, 1973-76), Gordon Haskell (bass, vocals, 1974), Roy Morgan (drums, 1974), Paul Karas (bass, vocals, 1974), Dave Lawson (keyboards, 1974-76), John White (drums, 1974-76), Peter Van Hooke (drums, 1974-76), John Miller (keyboards, vocals, 1998-2000), Richard Stubbings (flute, accordion, keyboards, guitar, penny whistle, vocals, 1998-present), Tim Robinson (drums, 1998-present), Ian Towers (keyboards, vocals, 2000-present)

 

 

 

 

- Audience (Keith Gemmell)

- Kim Beacon and the Serenaders (Andy Davis)

- Los 3 Caballeros (Andy Davis)

- Andy Davis (solo efforts

- Dumbwaiters (Andy Davis and James Warren)

- Greenslade (Dave Kawson)

- Gryptight Thynne (Andy Davis and James Warren)

- King Crimson

- The Pump Room Trio

- Rare Bird (Paul Karas)

- Sammy (Keith Gemmell)

- Slow Twitch Fibers (Andy Davis)

- James Warren (solo efforts)

- The Westlanders (Mike Evans)

 


 

Genre: progressive

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Friendliness

Company: MCA

Catalog: MCA-308

Year: 1972

Country/State: Bristol, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor ring wear on cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4879

Price: $20.00

 

 

I've always found it interesting that this talented English outfit couldn't even get arrested in the States.  This is probably way simplistic, but my take on their lack of American success (not that they sold zillions in the UK), was that they were simply too talented and too eclectic (in a very British fashion) for major labels to deal with.  Makes you wonder how the Fab Four would have done had they come to the forefront in the early 1970s.

 

Released by MCA, 1972's "Friendliness" served as the band's American debut.  Co-produced by the band and Vic Gamm, the resulting 11 tracks were reportedly recorded and mixed over the course of about 100 studio hours.  Musically it may not have been their creative zenith, but to my ears it's their most consistent and rewarding album.  With singer/multi-instrumentalist Andy Davis and singer/guitarist James Warren responsible for the majority of the material, the album showcased the band's unique mixture of commercial sensibilities, British humor and willingness to experiment with diverse musical genres.  On tracks like the lead off instrumental 'Lummy Days' multiple styles were often incorporated into a single composition.  Certainly an overused comparison, but in some ways this one really did stand up to comparisons with The Beatles' "White Album".  The dual version title track offered up a near-perfect angelic ballad that should have provided the band with an enormous hit.  'Anyone for Tennis' perfectly captured Paul McCartney's affection for 1920s English musical hall stylings. Clocking in at over eight minutes the melotron-propelled 'Syracuse the Elephant' was either an early animal rights track, or an English joke that didn't translate very well.  Regardless, it included a nice little sitar-propelled section.  Want an early touch of reggae?  Got it - even though 'Amazingly Agnes' is apparently a love song to a cow.   Admittedly it sounded completely disjointed, but somehow holds together.  Not that it mattered in the States.  With MCA proving itself clueless as to how to market the band to an American audience, the album was released with little promotion or support, quickly ending up in US cutout bins.

 

"Friendliness" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Lummy Days (instrumental)  (Andy Davis) - 

2.) Friendliness 1   (James Warren) - 

3.) Anyone for Tennis   (James Warren) - 

4.) Oh

5.) There Is No Refuge   (James Warren) - 

6.) Syracuse the Elephant   (James Warren - Andy Davis) - 

 

(side 2)
1.) Amazingly Agnes   (James Warren) - 

2.) Father Frankenstein Is Behind Your Pillow   (James Warren) - 

3.) Story of My Heart (instrumental)   (Mutter Slater) - 

4.) Keep On Clucking   (James Warren - Andy Davis) - 

5.) Friendliness 2   (James Warren) - 

6.) Teatime   (James Warren - Andy Davis) - 

 

 

 


Genre: prop

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Pinafore Days

Company: Sire

Catalog: SASD 7503

Year: 1975

Country/State: Bristol, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6084

Price: $15.00

 

Released as "The Man with the Bowler Hat" in the UK, it was easy to see why Sire decided on a title change in the States.  That said, when it was finally released domestically in 1975, "Pinafore Days" stood as an odd title choice for the US market.  Even more difficult to understand was Sire's decision to monkey around with the track listing.  Dropped from the original UK release were 'To the Sun and the Moon' and 'The Indifferent Hedgehog',  Those tracks were replaced by 'Spin Round the Room' from the group's fourth studio album "Extravaganza"   

 

Produced by George Martin, this is an album I've tried to like for years.  As a gigantic fan of 1960s  British psych, and mid-1970s bands like 10cc this should have been right up my alley and I can certainly appreciate large parts of the album.  As you'd expect, Martin gave the band a glossy, highly commercial sheen and as exemplified by tracks like 'Fundamentally Yours', 'The Last Plimsoll' and 'The Road To Venezuela' much of the album was quite melodic and commercial.  Still, I have to admit parts of the collection were just too cutesy, too clever, and perhaps just too English for my tastes (the operatic title track's always left me stone cold).  Most of the songs were apparently group written, but cryptically reflected co-writing credits to 'Smegmakovitch' ...   Anyone got the scoop ?   

 

Enjoyable, but seriously flawed ...  this is still a good place to start checking out the band's catalog.

 

"Pinafore Days" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Fundamentally Yours   (Andy Davis - Smegmakovitch) - 2:30   rating: **** stars

'Fundamentally Yours' opened the album with a glistening slice of power pop ...  With a fantastic Beatlesque melody and some wonderful vocals, this was the kind of track bands like Badfinger, or The Raspberries would have killed to get their hands on.  Hard to understand how radio ignored this one.    

2.) Pinafore Days   (Mike Slater - Smegmakovitch) - 2:35   rating: ** stars

'Pinafore Days' sounded like something they'd ripped off of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera.  I know lots of folks love this one, but I just don't get it ...   

The song was tapped as a single in the States:

- 1975's 'The Last Plimsoll' b/w 'The Last Plimsoll' (Sire catalog number SAA 717)

rating:

3.) The Last Plimsoll   (Andy Davis - Smegmakovitch) - 4:32   rating: **** stars

One of the album's standout performances, 'The Last Plimsoll' stood as another Beatlesque number.  Hard to accurate describe, but this one had that unique mix of great melody, interesting arrangement, and cryptic lyrics that characterized the best of Lennon and McCartney's work.    

4.) Spin Round the Room   (Vernon Bowkett) - 2:35   rating: ** stars

As mentioned, Spin Round the Room was pulled from the group's fourth English studio set "Extravaganza".  Sounding like a Paul McCartney throwaway tune, the song literally dripped of English music hall influences.  As such it was one of those songs you either found cute, or completely repulsive.  I'm in the latter category this time out.  It certainly made you wonder what Sire was thinking when they made the substitution.  

5.) The Road To Venezuela   (Andy Davis - Smegmakovitch) - 4:54   rating: *** stars

From a musical standpoint 'The Road To Venezuela' was an interesting pop track mixing a catchy melody with some South American influences.  The problem is the lyrics left me wondering if they were trying to play it straight, or if this was meant to be a Monty Python-styled kiss off ...

 

(side 2)
1.) The Galloping Gaucho   (Mike Slater - Smegmakovitch) - 2:48
   rating: * star

'The Galloping Gaucho' was another weird number that sounded like a cross between  music hall, circus music, and a Monty Python ditty.  Hard to believe this one was tapped as a single in the UK. 

- 1974's 'Galloping Gaucho' b/w 'Fundamentally Yours' (MCA catalog number ME 1224)  

2.) Humiliation   (James Warren) - 3:32   rating: ** stars

'Humiliation' sounded like a third-rate stab at 'Eleanor Rigby' sentimentality.  Pretty, but vapid. 

3.) Dangerous Bacon   (James Warren - Smegmakovitch) - 2:41   rating: **** stars

The album's second UK single, 'Dangerous Bacon' was a nifty rocker that sounded like a slice mid-1970s glam-meets the Beach Boys.  Roxy Music's Andy MacKay turned in the sax solo.  My choice for the album's best song.  

- 1974's 'Dangerous Bacon' b/w 'The Last Plimsoll' (MCA catalog number MC 124) 

4.) One Rainy July Morning   (Andy Davis - Vernon Bowkett - Mike Slater) - 4:02   rating: *** stars

'One Rainy July Morning' was a pop song that served to showcase their knack for mixing commercial and eclectic ...  very 10cc-ish.  

5.) God Speed the Plough (instrumental)   (Warbadaw Sleeve) - 5:30   rating: ** stars

Closing out the album, the instrumental 'God Speed the Plough' sounded like a piece of incidental music crafted for a film about wild horses ...  It was pretty, but again, sounded like something tacked on to the album to pad the running time.

 

 

Even though there was no American tour, decent reviews saw the album make  the US charts where it peaked at # 191.  That was followed by a massive personnel upheaval that left Andy Davis as the sole remaining original member.  

 

 


Genre: prop

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Mr. Mick

Company: Rocket

Catalog: OC 062-97512

Year: 1976

Country/State: Bristol, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: UK pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6074

Price: $20.00

 

Having recorded  four impressive studio albums in a five year period, 1976's "Mr. Mick" was the album that finally killed Stackridge.  Released in the wake of another round of personnel changes that saw the return of singer/flute player Mike Slatter and bassist Jim Walter, the revamped band originally conceived the album as a concept piece with a plotline seemingly having something to do with a senior citizen (Mr. Mick) cast off to a mystical garbage dump where he spent his time reminiscing about life while all the refuse in the dump had a story of their own to tell (like the old man).  I know you're thinking I had to have made that up ...  I didn't.  Unfortunately, in an age of disco madness and punk aggression, Rocket management wanted nothing to do with an extended concept piece.  The end result was that when the album actually hit UK stores (it never saw an American release), most of the narrative content had been cut out, as were several of the songs.  That essentially gutted the 'concept' and left it nearly impossible to figure out what the hell was going on.  The decision to open the album with a throwaway Beatles cover ('Hold Me Tight') may have been intended as a marketing effort to increase the set's commercial content, but did little to further the storyline.  Shame Rocket wrecked the original concept since what was left made little sense on its own.  

 

Due to the album's complexity plans to tour in support of the album were abandoned and the critical and commercial and indifference that greeted the album proved the end of the band ...  at least for twenty one years.  

 

 

 

For anyone truly interested, the album was reissued by the Angel Air label in 2001 as "The Original Mr. Mick (catalog number SJPCD 234)" A double CD package, the reissue included the original abbreviated Rocket release, as well as a second CD reflecting the original unedited album.

 

      

        

 

 

"Mr. Mick" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hold Me Tight  (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) -   rating: *** stars

It takes some gumption for a band to do a Beatles cover; let alone to reinterpret a track like 'Hold Me Tight' as a breezy reggae number.  Definitely a weird way to start an album and seemingly had nothing to do with the rest of the concept, but actually was kind of engaging once it got rolling.   The song was tapped as the UK single:

- 1976's 'Hold Me Tight' b/w Breakfast with Werner Von Braun (instrumental) (Rocket catalog ROKN 507)

2.) Breakfast with Werner Von Braun (instrumental)   (Andy Davis) -    rating: **** stars

I've always liked Stackridge's quirky edge and the instrumental 'Breakfast with Werner Von Braun' was a perfect example.  Complete with Arabic influences (courtesy of Keith Gemmell), and gorgeous background harmony vocals, this stood as one of the album's most stunning performances.  I'd love to know what it was actually about ...

3.) narrative interlude  rating: ** stars

The first narrative section set the stage for the old geezer (Mick) wandering out of his apartment to the local dump.

4.) Steam Radio Song   (Andy Davis - Augarde) -   rating: *** stars

A bluesy rocker, 'Steam Radio Song' was literally a song about an old radio's life ...  Sounds weird and it was, but it rocked out with quite a bit of energy.   

5.) The Dump (instrumental)   (Andy Davis) -   rating: *** stars

A brief discordant instrumental, The Dump' set the stage for Mick's further discoveries.

6.) Save a Red Face   (Andy Davis - Augarde) -   rating: *** stars

With an English music hall feel, 'Save a Red Face' featured the reminiscences of a cotton reel (which I gather was some sort of sewing implement).

 

(side 2)
1.) The Slater's Waltz   (Mike Slater - Augarde) -  rating: ** stars

Showcasing Slater's pretty keyboards and guest singer Joanna Karlin, 'The Slater's Waltz' was a pretty ballad about a discarded pair of ballet shoes.

2.) narrative interlude

3.) Coniston Water (instrumental)    (Mike Slater) -  rating: ** stars

 'Coniston Water' was a pretty, but inconsequential instrumental that served to transition the album to the next major song - 'Hey Good Looking'.

4.) narrative interlude

5.) Hey Good Looking  (Andy Davis - James Warren) -  rating: ** stars

For some reason tons of mid-1970s English bands felt the need to dabble in reggae and Stackridge were no exception to the rule - witness 'Hey Good Looking'.  Imagine a weaker 10cc track like ''Bloody Tourists and you'll know what to expect on this one.  

6.) Fish In a Glass  (Andy Davis - James Warren) -  rating: ** stars

At least to my ears, the most distinguishing feature about 'Fish In a Glass' was how much it sounded like a late-inning 10cc track.  Too cute and clever by half ...  

 

 

 

 

 


Genre: progressive

Rating: *** (4 stars)

Title:  Do the Stanley

Company: MCA/EMI

Catalog: MCF 2747

Year: 1972

Country/State: Bristol, UK

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor ring wear on cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 30004

Price: $25.00

 

An apparent effort to squeeze every last possible dollar out of the Stackridge's audience, MCA released a posthumous Stackridge collection in 1976.   The twelve track retrospective pulled together a host of tracks from their first three studio sets, along with some non-LP sides and one previously unreleased track - the live instrumental 'Let There Be Lids'.   As far as posthumous compilations went, "Do the Stanley" wasn't bad.  The liner notes included a brief band biography and the collection was fairly generous with twelve songs.  Obviously every Stackridge fan would have picked a different selection of material, but for someone who had never heard the band, or was only a casual fan, this wasn't a bad place to start.  Hearing these songs all together is also kind of interesting in terms of getting a good idea why these guys never had a chance in the States.  Much of the music was commercial, but not in ways that would have appealed to American ears.   Paul McCartney styled Vaudeville ('Anyone for Tennis'), English music hall ('Do the Stanley') and bizarro Latin-esque road trip 'The Road to Venezuela' simply weren't going to catch American ears.  In fact, given the band's lack of American success, MCA didn't bother with a US release.

 

"Do the Stanley" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Dora the Female Explorer   (Andy Davis - James Warren - Mike Slater - Mike Evans - Billy Bent) -   rating: **** stars

Released as Stackridge's first single, 'Dora the Explorer' was a hyper-catchy, singalong country-tinged rocker.  It's hard to believe the 45 never attracted any radio attention.  Always wondered if the PBS kids show was inspired by this one.

  UK pressing:

- 1971's 'Dora the Explorer' b/w 'Everyman' (MCA catalog number MKS 5056)

  US pressing:

- 1971's 'Dora the Explorer' b/w 'Grande Piano' (Decca catalog number MKS 32923)

2.) Everyman   (Andy Davis - James Warren) -   rating: *** stars

Showcasing Warren's pretty voice over an acoustic arrangement, 'Everyman' was a fragile, pastoral ballad.  The song appeared as the flip side to their 'Dora the Explorer' single.

3.) Percy the Penguin   (Andy Davis - James Warren) -    rating: *** stars

Lifted from the debut album, 'Percy the Penquin' was another pretty ballad, but a bit too cute and fey for my tastes.  For some reason the track has always reminded me of something NRBQ might have released.

4.) Slark   (Andy Davis - James Warren) - rating: **** stars

Featured on their debut album, 'Slark' was the band's third single, though the 45 featured a different mix than the original album version.  Musically the song found the band delving into English folk-rock.  Showcasing another laconic, pastoral melody, the tune's always reminded me a bit of something out of The Fairport Convention catalog.  Always wondered what the tune was about - the lyrics are lost on my American sensibilities..  

 

 

 

 

 

- 1973's 'Slark' b/w 'Purple Spaceships Over Yatoon" (MCA catalog number MKS 5019)

 

 

 

 

4.) Anyone for Tennis   (James Warren) -     rating: *** stars

'Anyone for Tennis sounded like one of those Vaudevillian melodies Paul McCartney so effortlessly tossed off.   Hard to not to picture the Empire's halycon 1920s and easy to see why it was a great single for a British audience, though it would have been too strange for the US market.   Pulled from their second album, the song also served as the band's second single:

- 1972's 'Anyone for Tennis' b/w 'Amazingly Agnes' (MCA catalog number MKS 5103)

5.) Amazingly Agnes   (James Warren) -      rating: *** stars

I'm guessing the reggae stumble melody that propelled 'Amazingly Agnes' was pretty unique when recorded in 1973.  Today it sounds sort of routine - lmagine 10cc's 'Bloody Tourists'.  The song also served as the "B" side to their 'Anyone for Tennis' 45.

6.) Purple Spaceships Over Yatoon   (Andy Davis - James Warren) -  rating: **** stars

'Purple Spaceships Over Yatoon' was another example where English sensibilities were a mystery to American ears.  One of their more rock-oriented performances (the opening guitar has always reminded me of something from a Pink Floyd album), the song featured another pretty melody but once again the movie soundtrack narrative left me clueless as to what the song was about.

 

(side 2)

1.) Do the Stanley   (Sleeve) -    rating: *** stars

Another tune off of the "Friendliness" LP, 'Do the Stanley' was another song with a typical English music hall, drinking melody.  To my ears if recalled something that might have been included on a Monty Python soundtrack.  A lyric that referenced the Queen ensured the single got little airplay when it was tapped as a single:

 

 

 

 

- 1973's 'Do the Stanley' b/w 'C'est la Vie' (MCA catalog number MUS 1182)

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) The Road to Venezuela  (Andy Davis - Smegmakovitch) -   rating: *** stars

From a musical standpoint 'The Road To Venezuela' was an interesting pop track mixing a catchy melody with some South American influences.  The problem is the lyrics left me wondering if they were trying to play it straight, or if this was meant to be a Monty Python-styled kiss off ...

3.) Dangerous Bacon   (James Warren - Smegmakovitch) -   rating: **** stars

The second UK single from "The Man with the Bowler Hat" LP, 'Dangerous Bacon' was a nifty rocker that sounded like a slice mid-1970s glam-meets the Beach Boys.  Roxy Music's Andy MacKay turned in the sax solo.  My choice for the album's best song.  The song was released as a single in the UK and Italy:

- 1973's 'Dangerous Bacon' b/w 'The Last Plimsoll' (MCA catalog number MCA 124)

4.) Lummy Days   (Andy Davis) -   rating: ** stars

Another tune featuring an English folk-rock sound.  Didn't do all that much for me.

5.) The Galloping Gaucho   (Mutter Slater - Smegmakovitch)   rating: *** stars

'The Galloping Gaucho' was another weird number that sounded like a cross between  music hall, circus music, Andy Partridge and a Monty Python ditty.  Hard to believe this one was tapped as a single in the UK. 

 

 

 

 

- 1974's 'Galloping Gaucho' b/w 'Fundamentally Yours' (MCA catalog number ME 1224)  

 

 

 

 

 

6.) C'est La Via   (Andy Davis - James Warren) -    rating: *** stars

'The Galloping Gaucho' was another weird number that sounded like a cross be

The flip side to their "Do the Stanley" 45 ... Another pretty featuring Warren on lead vocals.

7.) Let There Be Lids (instrumental)   (traditional - arranged by Evans) -  rating: ** stars

Imagine waking up an Irish bar and there's a band still on stage.  'Let There Be lids' was basically an opportunity for Mike Evans to showcase his fiddle.  Nothing special for my ears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davis and Warrent continued their partnership with the band The Korgis.  Davis subsequently released a solo album - 1989's "Clevedon Pier".   Warren also released a solo set - 1986's "Burning Questions".  

 

In 1998 Evans, Walter and Warren decided to rehabilitate the Stackridge nameplate.  

 

 

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Stackridge, one of the most singular rock bands to grow in soil sown and enriched by the British Invasion of the '60s, coalesced in late 1969. Andy Davis and Jim "Crun" Walter were playing together in the Bristol blues band Griptight Thynne when Davis began seeking new bandmates. Mike Tobin (who became Stackridge's first manager) introduced Davis to Mike "Mutter" Slater, then playing in the folk duo Mick & Mutter. James Warren answered a newspaper ad and connected very well with Davis, and they began writing songs together. Billy Bent showed up, listened to them developing "Dora the Female Explorer," and invited them to practice at his home studio, and they invited him to drum. Mike Evans was playing violin with traditional ballad groups in Bristol (the Westlanders and the Moonshiners). On Davis' 21st birthday, the band was celebrating at a pub when Mike Evans walked in. He was invited to join, as Davis knew him slightly and Walter agreed that a violin would fill out their sound. Meanwhile, Walter had proposed the latest absurd band name, Stackridge Lemon, which was quickly shortened to Stackridge.

The gigs were sparse at first, and Walter left. Tobin moved to London and began securing more plentiful bookings, while around Bristol, Stackridge began developing their eclectic, whimsical repertoire, with stated influences and preferences encompassing Zappa, the Beach Boys, Flanders & Swann, Syd Barrett, Igor Stravinsky, the Marx Brothers, J.S. Bach, and very significantly, the 1965-1966 Beatles. Their rummage sale stagewear, Slater's exuberant, witty patter (and his development of dustbin lids as a percussion instrument), Warren's wry, rambling story/introductions (contemporaneous with Peter Gabriel's development of same with Genesis), and the almost unique (in a rock group) inclusion of both a flutist and violinist led Stackridge to develop an enthusiastic, loyal following.

They signed to MCA, and with Fritz Fryer producing, they recorded Stackridge in the spring of 1971, sharing Martin Birch as engineer with Deep Purple. Warren wrote four songs alone and three with Davis, establishing him as the group's main lyrical voice. Stackridge was highlighted by the boisterous "Dora the Female Explorer," "Percy the Penguin" (the first of their laments for misunderstood animals), and a 12-plus-minute version of live favorite "Slark," a mythical beast that scoops the hapless narrator out of his car and flies him "beyond the fields we know." Walter was persuaded to rejoin on bass, allowing Warren to move to guitar permanently, while Davis continued to switch between guitar and keyboards.

After releasing two singles in support of the first LP (including a single version of "Slark" and the live instrumental favorite "Purple Spaceships Over Yatton") and touring with Wishbone Ash, the six returned to the studio in August 1972 to record Friendliness, perhaps the classic Stackridge album. It was recorded in just 70 hours of off-peak studio time, with 30 more hours of mixing. There were five songs (including the two-part title track) from Warren, a piano instrumental from flutist Slater, three Walter/Davis compositions (including "Syracuse the Elephant" and "Keep on Clucking," preceding animal rights activism by at least a decade), and the opening instrumental galloper "Lummy Days." MCA released Friendliness stateside as well (unlike the first album), but without promo or performances. Despite modest sales (again), Stackridge had shed the "novelty item" tag and created, as reviewer Chas Keep put it in 1996, "A sort of children's favorites with attitude; a compendium of tuneful melodies performed without the now dated excesses of [their] contemporaries." The release of Friendliness in November 1972 was followed by a tour with friends the Pigsty Hill Orchestra and a new single, "Do the Stanley" b/w "C'est la Vie," in February 1973. Despite its being a catchy and an easy singalong single, DJs failed to pick up on "Stanley," and the BBC hierarchy restricted its airplay due to a lyrical reference to the Queen. Conversely, since 1971, Radio 1 and the Beeb had been recording and broadcasting Stackridge in session and in concert, as they faithfully did with rock and pop acts of all stripes. (Some of these recordings finally emerged on CD in the '90s.)



Watching Martin at work, Slater hated the idea of trying to reproduce the album on-stage, and further felt Stackridge were just dabbling in music. Wanting to study music seriously and not get sucked into the commercial aspect of it all, he quit. Billy Sparkle left also and became Martin's personal assistant for several years, as well as a professional photographer. Davis' restlessness was abated temporarily by recruiting Keith Gemmell (formerly with Audience) on sax, flute, and clarinet, and Rod Bowkett on keyboards, which allowed Davis to switch to drums. This new lineup toured during the 1973-1974 winter with new material as well as songs from The Man in the Bowler Hat, which wasn't released until February 1974. Within a few months, Warren and Walter were both asked to leave. Gordon Haskell, who had contributed vocals and bass to King Crimson's Lizard, joined for a couple weeks and then exited amicably, leaving the band with the song "(No One's More Important Than) The Earthworm." Paul Karas replaced him. Rod Bowkett composed some brilliant instrumentals and both he and Gemmell began to move Stackridge into jazzier territory. Mike Evans, always an outsider, also left, leaving Davis in charge at last. Roy Morgan was added on drums, with Davis returning to guitar. Thus, it was a very different Stackridge that recorded Extravaganza in late 1974 for Elton John's Rocket Records. Released in January 1975, the fourth album had fine songs ("The Volunteer," "Spin 'Round the Room," "Earthworm," and "Happy in the Lord") and clever instrumentals ("Who's That Up There with Bill Stokes?," "Pocket Billiards"), but the essence of Stackridge was gone.

In 1975, Bowkett gave way to Dave Lawson (ex-Greenslade) and Pete Van Hooke replaced Roy Morgan. Slater had rejoined somewhat earlier, freeing Gemmell to focus on sax and clarinet, and joining Davis in the vocals once again. Finally, Walter was asked to rejoin, replacing Karas on bass. This final lineup created Stackridge's only true concept album, Mr. Mick, released in March 1976. Unfortunately, the released version was a far cry from what Stackridge submitted. Davis recalled, 20 years later, that "Rocket hacked the tapes to pieces, rendered the whole thing unintelligible, and precipitated the band's demise." Mr. Mick wasn't very popular with concert reviewers either, who either couldn't follow the story (narrated by Slater), yearned for the exuberant antics of yore, or both. Despite a marvelous cover of the Beatles' "Hold Me Tight," two remarkable instrumentals composed by Slater ("The Slater's Waltz" and "Coniston Water"), and good Walter/Davis material, Stackridge disbanded.


Do the Stanley, a fond retrospective issued in late 1976, gathered all the non-LP tracks, the live fiddle fest "Let There Be Lids," and a few signature album tracks. Stackridge's practice of melding clever, often sympathetic lyrics and complex but hummable melodies with innovative mixes and crisp arrangements paved the way into the pop rock charts in the '70s for the likes of Queen, 10cc, and Sparks; in the '80s for Split Enz, Squeeze, They Might Be Giants, and Prefab Sprout; and in the '90s for Barenaked Ladies, Trashcan Sinatras, the Bats, and Divine Comedy

 



Beginning in 1992, with the issue of Stackridge: BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert, interest in the band was rekindled. By 1997, everything was available on CD, including Radio 1 Sessions, a second BBC live offering. Warren and Walter, noting this and the lively interest coalescing on the Internet, thought perhaps the world was ready for Stackridge again. Warren put together a four-track demo called Stackridge: More in Late '98, featuring three songs he wrote or co-wrote, plus one by old friend Roger Cook, with Andy West. According to Mike Evans' wife Jennie, now their business manager, all original bandmembers were approached by Warren and invited to "do it again." Slater, Sparkle, and Davis declined for varying reasons, but Evans, who remained active in folk music after leaving Stackridge, came back on board. A new Stackridge full-length CD, tentatively titled Sex and Flags, was slated for release in the spring of 1999, and the reborn group agreed to be the opening act on the folk stage at the annual Glastonbury Festival in June 1999. Later that year the band's new LP was indeed released, under the title Something for the Weekend (the Sex and Flags title to be used later).

Following a management dispute that brought their reunion to an end in 2000, Stackridge again went their separate ways. But after performing a series of gigs as James Warren & Friends, whose lineup included Crun Walters, keyboard player Glenn Tommey, and violinist Sarah Mitchell, James again floated the idea of resurrecting Stackridge. This time he succeeded in persuading two more founding members to give it one last shot: Andy Cresswell-Davis and Mutter Slater were always key ingredients as composers, instrumentalists, and lead vocalists, and their reunion with Warren and Walter meant that the band -- later augmented by violinist Rachel Hall and drummer Eddie John -- was now restored to something very close to its classic lineup. Sex and Flags (2003) consisted of just six songs -- all demos recorded by the individual members -- originally released as a privately pressed mini-album called Stackridge Lemon and bolstered by tracks from Something for the Weekend. It wasn't until 2007 that the band began to tour in earnest, however, culminating in 2008 with a performance at the Glastonbury Festival 38 years after providing its very first act. Even more improbably, buoyed by the joyous response of audiences of all ages, Stackridge began collaborating on a new album with producer Chris Hughes. A Victory for Common Sense, set for release in July 2009, is the first to feature all four principal composers since 1973's The Man in the Bowler Hat.

 

Stackridge are a British folk, pop and progressive rock group who were at the height of their success during the early 1970s. The band's output is characterized by quirky humour and rhythmic catchy sing-along tunes.

Stackridge mixes clever lyrics and tuneful melodies with innovative arrangements. The group has claimed a wide range of influences including The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Frank Zappa, Syd Barrett, Robin Williamson, The Marx Brothers, Flanders and Swann, Bing Crosby, Tom Lehrer, Gilbert & Sullivan, Frederick Delius, J.S. Bach and Igor Stravinsky.

Contents

[hide]

[edit] History

[edit] Classic period

Stackridge Lemon was formed from the remains of Grytpype Thynne by Andy Davis and James "Crun" Walter during 1969 in the Bristol/Bath area of the UK. After initial experimentation the word Lemon was dropped from the band's name. The band played its first London gig at The Temple on 6 February 1970. Stackridge were the opening and closing act at the first Glastonbury Festival between 19 September and 20 September 1970.

During 1971 Stackridge began serious gigging although Crun left to take up bricklaying. The group (Davis,Warren,Bent,Evans,Slater) embarked on a UK tour supporting Wishbone Ash. Later in the year they signed to MCA Records and recorded their first album Stackridge, at De Lane Lea Studios, London. They toured the UK as headliners with Renaissance supporting and played their first John Peel session for the BBC which included a version of The Beatles Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown). Their first single Dora the Female Explorer is thought to have inspired the popular children's television show Dora The Explorer.[citation needed]

The group continued on a year of touring, again with Wishbone Ash and Forever More. The second album Friendliness was quickly recorded in August 1972 and released in November with some songs that had started life in pre-Stackridge days. By this time Crun rejoined the band which consisted of Davis,Warren,Slater,Evans,Walter and Billy Sparkle.

 

The fourth album Extravaganza on Elton John's Rocket Records label was recorded at AIR Studios with Tony Ashton producing and Rod Bowkett joining to contribute to the songwriting.The band now consisted of Davis,Bowkett, Gemmell,Slater (who had rejoined),Karas and Morgan. Non-Stackridge written songs and cover versions became more prevalent.The band seriously missed James Warren's input.With more touring and an appearance at Wembley Stadium concert with Elton John and The Beach Boys, 1975 saw the eventful recording of the band's fifth outing in the studio, the concept album Mr. Mick based on stories/poems by Steve Augard which was eventually recorded at Ramport Studios, Putney with the revised line-up of Davis, Slater, Walter, Gemmell plus the addition of Dave Lawson on keyboards (Greenslade) and Peter Van Hooke on drums.

 

 

On something of a downward slide by this time, the album Mr. Mick suffered at the hands of the record label Rocket Records due to editing and the insistence on a Beatles cover song 'Hold me tight'. The album did receive some good press but some shows were abandoned on the grounds that the stages were too small as the band seemed to be taking themselves too seriously.They performed a final show in April 1976 and shortly after the band disintegrated. MCA Records released the compilation Do The Stanley late in 1976 which contained songs from the first three albums along with singles and a previously unreleased song 'Let there be lids' taken from their live performances.

Stackridge officially announced in 1977 that they had disbanded; James Warren and Andy Cresswell-Davis formed The Korgis a few years later, and had some commercial success in the early 1980s.

Looking back at their recording career, clearly UK & US MCA Records had no idea how to promote this eccentric pop band. They simply issued records without much promotion. Their rather odd image didn't help them much, either. By the time they moved to UK Rocket and US Sire, they were on the decline.

[edit] Revival period

Stackridge Live In Concert was released by Windsong, which raised renewed interest in the band. John Sherry, Roy Morgan and Rod Lynton proposed a reunion tour, which never materialized.

During 1996 talks were held between original members about possible reunion and recording started. And the following year, 1997 Stackridge - The Radio One Sessions was released by Strange Fruit Records.

By June 1999, the Come Back To Front Uk tour was under way and June that year saw Something for the Weekend released, featuring the line-up; James Warren, Jim "Crun" Walter, Mike Evans, Richard Stubbings, John Miller, and Tim Robinson.This album sounded more 'Korgi's' than 'Stackridge' and featured the catchy 'Something about the Beatles'. Then in 2001 Pick Of The Crop and The Original Mr Mick were released on Stackridge's own DAP Records.Mike and Jennie Evans were responsible for re-marketing the band including setting up a web-site and there were infrequent live guest appearances by Mike 'Mutter' Slater.However further turmoil within the band occurred as attempts to re-unite the original band led to the Evans's falling out with the Warren,Walter and Slater as Davis came back to the fold.

2005 saw the release of the album Sex and Flags on Angel Air Records, a collection comprising many songs from 'Something for the Weekend', all six songs from the fan release only limited edition 'Lemon' CD in 2002, and two Andy Davis demo recordings. The album was the first since 1973 (apart from the 'Lemon' mini CD) to feature the core foursome of Warren, Davis, Walter and Slater.

A Spring 2007 tour was announced featuring this line-up, along with additional musicians. A show at The Rondo Theatre, Bath, on April 1 2007 was filmed for a DVD, released under the title Forbidden City (also available as a CD release). The band continued to perform during 2008.

Stackridge signed up with reissue experts Angel Air in 2005 and all the albums listed in the discography below have the latest Angel Air CD/DVD catalogue numbers ascribed to them. All the CDs have extensive sleevenotes, pictures of memorabilia and bonus tracks and two, 'Mr Mick' and 'Forbidden City' are double CD sets.

In 2008 they returned to the Glastonbury Festival to play the acoustic stage on the Sunday afternoon.[1] They also appeared at the 2008 Rhythm Festival in Bedford, England and Fairport's Cropredy Convention.

A new album ("A Victory For Common Sense" - including a rework of the Korgi's "Boots and Shoes") was released 13th July 2009 on Helium Records.

Playing the Acoustic Stage at the 2008 Glastonbury Festival.

As of June 12, 2010, it was announced that Mutter Slater resigned from Stackridge. The stated reason was that, because of his full-time job, he could not always accept weekday bookings without taking a day out of his holiday entitlement.

The announcement concluded "The rest of the band are very sorry to see him go, but will continue as a seven piece at least until the end of the year. Rehearsals will take place over the next two months to create a new direction, ready for Autumn/Winter gigs.

"2011 looks very promising with more gigs, several Festivals pencilled in, new songs, more writing & recording on the cards with a revamped line-up."

[edit] Band members

[edit] Classic lineup

that is - Stackridge II (1971 - 1973)

Andy Cresswell-Davis - guitar/keyboards/vocals

James Warren - guitar/vocals

Mike Evans - violin/vocals

Mike "Mutter" Slater - flute/vocals

Jim "Crun" Walter - bass

Billy Bent aka Billy Sparkle - drums

[edit] Reunion line-ups

These were:- Stackridge 1999

James Warren - guitar/vocals

Mike Evans - violin/vocals

Jim "Crun" Walter - bass/mobile telephone

Richard Stubbings - flute/accordion/keyboards/guitar/pennywhistle/vocals/whistling

Tim Robinson - drums

John Miller - keyboards/vocals

 

Stackridge 2000

James Warren - guitar/vocals

Mike Evans - violin/vocals

Jim "Crun" Walter - bass

Richard Stubbings - flute/accordion/keyboards/guitar/pennywhistle/vocals/whistling

Tim Robinson - drums

Ian Towers - keyboards/vocals/guitar

(both 1999 and 2000 line-ups occasionally augmented by:

The Stackettes

Stackridge 2007-8: In Stackridge 2007-08 up to and including Rhythm Festival gig on 31 August 2008:-

Also formerly in Stackridge 2007 (one gig only each):

Stackridge 2007 also included (but for final three '07 gigs)

Stackridge 2007:

Accompanied by:

Stackridge 2009:

Accompanied by:

[edit] Present lineup

Stackridge 2010:

Their accompanying musicians are:

[edit] Album discography

[edit] Chronological releases

[edit] DVD

[edit] See also

[edit] References

 

tackridge, one of the most singular rock bands that grew up in the soil sown and enriched by the British Invasion of the '60s, coalesced in late 1969. Andy Davis and Jim "Crun" Walter were playing together in the Bristol blues band Griptight Thynne when Davis began seeking new band mates. Mike Tobin (who became Stackridge's first manager) introduced Davis to Mike "Mutter" Slater, then playing in the folk duo Mick & Mutter. James Warren answered a newspaper ad, connected very well with Davis, and they began writing songs together. Billy Bent showed up, listened to them developing "Dora, the Female Explora," and invited them to practice at his home studio, and they invited him to drum. Mike Evans was playing violin with traditional ballad groups in Bristol (the Westlanders and the Moonshiners). On Davis' 21st birthday, the band was celebrating at a pub when Mike Evans walked in. He was invited to join, as Davis knew him slightly and Walter agreed that a violin would fill out their sound. Meanwhile, Walter had proposed the latest absurd band name, Stackridge Lemon, which was quickly shortened to Stackridge.

The gigs were sparse at first, and Walter left. Tobin moved to London and began securing more plentiful bookings, while around Bristol, Stackridge began developing their eclectic, whimsical repertoire, a given with stated influences and preferences encompassing Zappa, the Beach Boys, Flanders & Swann, Syd Barrett, Igor Stravinsky, the Marx Brothers, J.S. Bach and very significantly, the 1965-1966 Beatles. Their rummage sale stagewear, Slater's exuberant, witty patter (and his development of dustbin lids as a percussion instrument), Warren's wry, rambling story/introductions (contemporaneous with Peter Gabriel's development of same with Genesis) and the almost unique (in a rock group) inclusion of both a flutist and violinist led Stackridge to develop an enthusiastic, loyal following.

They signed to MCA and with Fritz Fryer producing, they recorded Stackridge in the spring of 1971, sharing Martin Birch as engineer with Deep Purple. Warren wrote four songs alone and three with Davis, establishing him as the group's main lyrical voice. Stackridge was highlighted by the boisterous "Dora, the Female Explorer," "Percy the Penguin" (the first of their laments for misunderstood animals) and a 12-minute-plus version of live favorite "Slark," a mythical beast that scoops the hapless narrator out of his car and flies him "beyond the fields we know." Walter was persuaded to rejoin on bass, allowing Warren to move to guitar permanently, while Davis continued to switch between guitar and keyboards.

After releasing two singles in support of the first LP (including a single version of "Slark" and the live instrumental favorite "Purple Spaceships over Yatton") and touring with Wishbone Ash, the six returned to the studio in August 1972 to record Friendliness, perhaps the classic Stackridge album. It was recorded in just 70 hours of off-peak studio time, with 30 more hours of mixing. There were five songs (including the two-part title track) from Warren, a piano instrumental from flutist Slater, three Walter/Davis compositions (including "Syracuse the Elephant" and "Keep on Clucking," preceding animal rights activism by at least a decade) and the opening instrumental galloper "Lummy Days." MCA released Friendliness Stateside as well (unlike the first album), but without promo or performances. Despite modest sales (again), Stackridge had shed the "novelty item" tag and created, as reviewer Chas Keep put it in 1996, "A sort of children's favorites with attitude; a compendium of tuneful melodies performed without the now dated excesses of [their] contemporaries." The release of Friendliness in November 1972 was followed by a tour with friends the Pigsty Hill Orchestra, and a new single, "Do the Stanley" b/w "C'est La Vie," in February 1973. Despite its being a catchy and an easy sing-along single, DJs failed to pick up on "Stanley" and the BBC hierarchy restricted its airplay due to a lyrical reference to the Queen. Conversely, since 1971, Radio One and the Beeb had been recording and broadcasting Stackridge in session and in concert, as they faithfully did with rock and pop acts of all stripes. (Some of these recordings finally emerged on CD in the '90s.)

When a third LP was planned, Stackridge received a boost. George Martin's son had played Friendliness for his legendary father, and colleagues at Air Studios had pestered him to work with the band. Reluctant, until he heard some demo tapes for the new album, Harrison agreed to produce what became The Man in the Bowler Hat, easily Stackridge's most financially successful and well-known album. Reviewer Chas Keep reveals that Martin worked on the melodic and rhythmic patterns (especially the vocal harmonies), supervised the orchestration and even contributed piano on "Humiliation." Andy Mackay of Roxy Music added sax to "Dangerous Bacon," an infectious tip-o'-the-hat to the Beatles. "Bacon" was passed over for first single release in favor of "The Galloping Gaucho," a brilliant poke at glitter rockers and the absurdity of "being cool." Yet "Gaucho" strengthened the public's perception of Stackridge as an oddity, a bucolic rock troupe with dancehall leanings. They were warm when the public wanted cool, intricate when brash was praised, illuminating when obscurity was in vogue.

Watching Martin at work, Slater hated the idea of trying to reproduce the album onstage, and further felt Stackridge was just dabbling in music. Wanting to study music seriously and not get sucked into the commercial aspect of it all, he quit. Billy Sparkle left also and became Martin's personal assistant for several years, as well as a professional photographer. Davis' restlessness was abated temporarily by recruiting Keith Gemmell (formerly with Audience) on sax, flute and clarinet, and Rod Bowkett on keyboards, which allowed Davis to switch to drums. This new lineup toured during the 1973-74 winter with new material as well as songs from The Man in the Bowler Hat, which wasn't released until February 1974. Within a few months, Warren and Walter were both asked to leave. Gordon Haskell, who had contributed vocals and bass to King Crimson's Lizard, joined for a couple weeks then exited amicably, leaving the band with the song "(No One's More Important Than) The Earthworm." Paul Karas replaced him. Rod Bowkett composed some brilliant instrumentals and both he and Gemmell began to move Stackridge into jazzier territory. Mike Evans, always an outsider, also left, leaving Davis in charge at last. Roy Morgan was added on drums, with Davis returning to guitar. Thus, it was a very different Stackridge that recorded Extravaganza in late 1974 for Elton John's Rocket Records. Released in January 1975, the fourth album had fine songs ("The Volunteer," "Spin 'Round the Room," "Earthworm" and "Happy in the Lord") and clever instrumentals ("Who's That up There with Bill Stokes?," "Pocket Billiards"), but the essence of Stackridge was gone.

In 1975, Bowkett gave way to Dave Lawson (ex-Greenslade) and Pete Van Hooke replaced Roy Morgan. Slater had rejoined somewhat earlier, freeing Gemmell to focus on sax and clarinet, and joining Davis in the vocals once again. Finally, Walter was asked to rejoin, replacing Karas on bass. This final lineup created Stackridge's only true concept album, Mr. Mick, released in March 1976. Unfortunately, the released version was a far cry from what Stackridge submitted. Davis recalled, 20 years later, that "Rocket hacked the tapes to pieces, rendered the whole thing unintelligible, and precipitated the bands demise." Mr. Mick wasn't very popular with concert reviewers either, who either couldn't follow the story (narrated by Slater), yearned for the exuberant antics of yore, or both. Despite a marvelous cover of the Beatles' "Hold Me Tight," two remarkable instrumentals composed by Slater ("The Slater's Waltz" and "Coniston Water"), and good Walter/Davis material, Stackridge disbanded.

Do the Stanley, a fond retrospective issued in late 1976, gathered all the non-LP tracks, the live fiddle fest, "Let There Be Lids" and a few signature album tracks. Stackridge's practice of melding clever, often sympathetic lyrics, and complex but hummable melodies with innovative mixes and crisp arrangements paved the way into the pop rock charts in the '70s for the likes of Queen, 10 CC and Sparks; in the '80s for Split Enz, Squeeze, They Might Be Giants and Prefab Sprout; and in the '90s for Bare Naked Ladies, Trashcan Sinatras, the Bats and Divine Comedy. Davis and Warren returned to mainstream music in 1979 as the Korgis. Finally, they achieved the singles success they'd sought in Stackridge with "If I Had You" from their debut LP, The Korgis (number 13 U.K.), and especially "Everyone's Got to Learn Sometime" (number five U.K., number 18 in the U.S.) from the followup, Dumbwaiters. After two more LPs (Sticky George and This World's for Everyone) escaped notice, they again parted ways. Davis released a solo LP, Clevedon Pier in 1989, and has remained active in both performance (with the Andy Davis Band, which made an eponymous, limited edition CD in 1994, and a trio with Stuart Gordon (Korgis) and Peter Allerhand, named Los Caballeros) and production through 1998. Warren released a solo LP in 1986, but was rarely heard from musically, for many years.

Beginning in 1992, with the issue of Stackridge: BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert, interest in the band was rekindled. By 1997, everything was available on CD, including Radio 1 Sessions, a second BBC live offering. Warren and Walter, noting this and the lively interest coalescing on the Internet, thought perhaps the world was ready for Stackridge again. Warren put together a four-track demo called Stackridge: More in Late '98, featuring three songs he wrote or co-wrote, plus one by old friend Roger Cook, with Andy West. According to Mike Evans' wife Jennie, now their business manager, all original band members were approached by Warren and invited to "do it again." Slater, Sparkle and Davis declined for varying reasons, but Evans, who remained active in folk music after leaving Stackridge, came back on board. The new Stackridge full-length CD, tentatively titled Sex and Flags, is slated for release in the spring of 1999, and the reborn group has agreed to be the opening act on the folk stage at the annual Glastonbury Festival in June 1999.

 

 

The albums were released through British EMI on its MCA label (now divorced from EMI) in Britain. The first album was released in the U.S. on domestic MCA, but the second went unreleased here. Beginning with the third album, Sire took over the U.S. releases, and began a series of variant LPs. What was released in Britain as THE MAN IN THE BOWLER HAT (with a strange picture of an apparent woman -- actually the band's manager in female attire -- strolling across an African veldt), came out from Sire with the same cover, but under the name PINAFORE DAYS, after a song of that name. Sire dropped two tracks from the original album, substituting for them a new single, "Spin Round the Room" and "One Rainy July Morning." These two tracks were on the following British album. But the main item of distinction for BOWLER HAT is that it was produced by George Martin, once known as "the fifth Beatle." The band were very pleased to get him, and he added a number of touches such as orchestrations, including his own piano on "Humiliation." (Another track, "Dangerous Bacon," featured Roxy Music's Andy Mackay on sax, while Ray Davies played trumpet and cornet on "The Galloping Gaucho.") Once again there are nine songs and one instrumental track.

Then Stackridge was signed (as the first group) to Elton John's Rocket Records label in Britain, then affiliated with Island. Rocket released EXTRAVAGANZA with a newly reformed Stackridge. Out went Warren, Evans, Bent (now known as Sparkle) and Walter. In came saxophonist Keith Gemmell (formerly from Audience), Paul Karas (from Rare Bird) on bass and vocals, Rod Bowkett on keyboards, and Roy Morgan on drums -- leaving only Slater and Davis from the original group. Out of the ten tracks, seven were songs and three were instrumentals. One of the songs was Gordon Haskell's "No One's More Important Than The Earthworm," a song which certainly fit well with the Stackridge material. Haskell, once briefly in King Crimson, had even more briefly joined Stackridge, but left before they began their fourth album, leaving this song behind. (Gordon's own version can be found on his 1971 solo album, IT IS AND IT ISN'T.) The American version of the album, on Sire, omitted the two tracks which had appeared on the U.S. release of the previous album, substituting one of the tracks bumped off that album, and a late single, "Do The Stanley." It was an okay album -- it still sounded like Stackridge -- bbut, as Keep puts it, "Sheer professionalism had replaced the essential characteristics that had made up Stackridge and whilst it was hard not to like the album it was equally hard to get excited about it. The distinctive touch, evocation of mood and emotion, and quirky humour present on the first three albums had largely gone." I don't entirely agree; "Earthworm" and tracks like the sardonic "Happy in the Lord" maintained Stackridge's high standards quite well.

In 1975 there were further upheavals in the band. Davis and Slater held on, and Keith Gemmell stayed with them, but the rest of the band was replaced again. This time Walter returned to the band on bass, joined by the Dutch musician Pete Van Hooke on drums and Dave Lawson (from Greenslade) on keyboards. This band made the final Stackridge album, MR. MICK, which came out in early 1976.

MR. MICK "had been devised as a true 'concept album,'" according to Andy Davis, "but Rocket hacked the tapes to pieces, rendered the whole thing unintelligible and precipitated the band's demise." Originally the story of an old man who goes to the dump and discovers a steam radio, a surreal fantasy with poignant overtones, the delivered album was edited and resequenced by Rocket, who stuck a single on the opening track, a raggae version of the Beatles' "Hold Me Tight," and cut much of the connective material (and perhaps some of the songs) from the original album. Despite this, MR. MICK is a beautiful album and easily the most "progressive" Stackridge ever made. Instrumentals like "Breakfast with Werner von Braun," "The Dump," and "Coniston Water," are compelling, and the production is full of sly and subtle delights. It's a genuine shame that Stackridge broke up after making this album.

There was one last album, MCA's DO THE STANLEY, which gathered up the singles, including those which never appeared on any album. It was released in late 1976 in Britain only, and is unlikely to appear on CD since Edsel has tacked the non-album singles onto its three CDs as bonus tracks, sweeping up all the loose change. The Edsel CDs of the first three albums are a model for intelligent CD reissues, with excellent annotation, well-written essays (from which I've quoted only a little), and the aforementioned bonus tracks. The last two albums appear to be available presently only as Japanese imports (the Edsels are British imports, of course), and are exact copies of their respective LPs, with no added tracks.

However, in 1992 Windsong released a CD of thirteen live performances recorded for and broadcast by the BBC in 1972, 1973 and 1975. These include a little bit of the non-musical patter (especially surrounding the non-album piece, "She Taught Me How To Yodel") that distinguished Stackridge's live shows, and are excellent performances that rank with their studio recordings in quality. Recently I've seen a repackaged version of this CD in some stores, but I believe its contents are the same.

Andy Davis and James Warren were the only ones to continue with careers in commercially-released recordings. They formed The Korgis and released two albums, THE KORGIS and DUMB WAITERS (in the U.S. on Warner Bros. and Asylum respectively) in 1979 and 1980. The Korgis do not sound very much like Stackridge, but a bit more like the Beatles crossed with Roxy Music (Davis had played on Lennon's IMAGINE). Davis subsequently worked with Tears For Fears, Bill Nelson and Julian Cope. In 1986 Warren released a solo album, and in 1989 Davis released one as well; I have heard neither of them.

I suggest trying any Stackridge album you find first, and, if you like it, getting the rest. I recommend Stackridge's albums wholeheartedly.

 

 


Stackridge Lemon ( ? - 1970)
Stackridge I (1970 - 1971) Album:
  1. "Stackridge" (1971)

Stackridge II (1971 - 1973) Albums:
  1. "Friendliness" (1972)
  2. "The Man in the Bowler Hat" (1973)
  3. "BBC Radio One Live in Concert" (1992) - selections from '72, '73, and '75 concerts.
[Ref: Elessar Tetramariner (for BBC concert CDs information).]

Stackridge III (1973) Albums:
  1. "BBC Radio One Sessions" (1997)
James Warren later forms The Korgis (with Andy Davis). Mike Evans later forms The Pump Room Trio

Stackridge IV(1974)
Stackridge V (1974) Album:
  1. "Extravaganza" (1974)

Stackridge VI (1974 - 1976) Album:
  1. "Mr. Mick" (1976)
  2. "The Original Mr. Mick" (2000)
Group disbands.  Andy Davis forms The Korgis (with James Warren), and later forms The Andy Davis Band

Stackridge VII (1998 - March 2000) (reformed) Album:
  1. "Something for the Weekend" (1999)
[Ref: Elessar Tetramariner (for the lineup).]

Stackridge VIII (March 2000 - ? ) [Ref: Elessar Tetramariner]

Links: [Ref: Stephen Green (for the link to the Rhubarb Thrashing Web Society).]