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Stackridge Friendliness album cover
3.71 | 42 ratings | 6 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Lummy Days (3:22)
2. Friendliness, Pt. 1 (2:30)
3. Anyone for Tennis (2:32)
4. There Is Not Refuge (3:24)
5. Syracuse the Elephant (8:47)
6. Amazingly Agnes (3:31)
7. Father Frankenstein Is Behind Your Pillow (3:36)
8. Keep on Clucking (4:04)
9. Story of My Heart (2:04)
10. Friendliness, Pt. 2 (1:55)
11. Teatime (5:49)
12. Slark* (4:46)
13. Everyman* (4:27)
14. Purple Spaceships Over Yatton* (6:39)

Total Time: 57:26
* Bonus tracks on Cd version

Line-up / Musicians

- Andy Creswell-Davis / guitar, keyboards, vocals, bass
- Michael "Mutter" Slater / flute, vocals
- Mike Evans / violin, cello
- Billy "Sparkle" Brent / drums
- James Warren / vocals, guitar
- Jim "Crun" Walter / bass

Releases information

Released in vinyl MCA MKPS2025,
Cd Universal International 526999

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
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STACKRIDGE Friendliness ratings distribution

(42 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(57%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

STACKRIDGE Friendliness reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Sophomore album of this odd and eclectic bunch of musicians, with an added Jim Walter bassist who had previously been involved in the band when they were known as Stackridge Lemons (keyboardist Andy Davis had doubled on bass in the debut), so the group is now a sextet. With a well-known theme of the old man and the birds theme gracing the cover of this single-sleeved album, I cannot make out if there are some conceptual tid-bits linking the tracks

With the instrumental opening track Lummy Days (which will open many shows), Stackridge picks up where they had left off with the closing Slark on their debut album. The first half of the title track is a charming soft piece that will remind itself to the listener just before the end of the album. The Beatles influences had not disappeared yet as the unashamedly Anyone For Tennis (featuring The Pigsty Hill Light Orchestra on strings) and No Refuge suggests, though. Again they save their best moment on the almost 9-min Syracuse The Elephant, where their mainly acoustic instrumental prowess are quite impressive including a mellotron.

Amazing Agnes (their second single) presents again strong Beatles resemblance, talks about a cow and gathered some good airplay. The again-bizarre (not in terms of typical British quirkiness, though) Father Frankenstein Is Behind Your Pillow is a clarinet- dominated soft song contrasting heavily with the preceding RnR-esque Keep On Clucking. The instrumental (piano-only) Story Of My Heart and the just-as-short second title tracks (two of them) again change to the more reflective mood that the band thrives on. Again, Stackridge close an album side with one of their best track, the deliciously pastoral Teatime where the musical trances can make you think of String Driven Thing's The Machine That Cried: simply excellent. Evans' violin, Walter's bass and Davis' mellotrons are a pure joy on this track

Only marginally better than their debut, this album is a better intro to understand the musical landscapes that Stackridge loves to deploy before our very ears. With only the Clucking track sticking out a bit, this album has much charms and is an essential oeuvre of the group.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Includes tales of a lovesick mule, and a homesick elephant

Released in 1972, it has to be said right away that Stackridge's second album should never be held up as a masterpiece of prog. For one thing, the band were way too jovial to ever be prog heavyweights. Do not let this fool you though, Stackridge took their music seriously, and created some wonderful albums.

Having searched in vain for a producer for the album, Dave Cousins was reputedly one of those who was asked, the band decided to take on those duties themselves.

After a spirited instrumental opener "Lummy days", which introduces the band's talents in that field, we are presented with the heavily Beatles influenced title track. The strong melody and overt pop flavour can mislead you into thinking this is a throwaway song, but such an assumption would be misinformed. "Anyone for tennis", James Warren's second successive composition, finds the band in full jaunt, the upbeat tune creating a feeling of retro aristocracy. Warren also writes the following "There is no refuge", a simple piano and vocal ballad with some seductive violin playing by Mike Evans.

The feature track of the first side though is the almost 9 minute "Syracuse the elephant". Co-written by new boy bassist Jim Walter with keyboard player Andy Davis, the song offers early confirmation that the addition of Walter was an inspired move. The track opens with a symphonic explosion introducing a further Beatles like harmonised vocal. The song is indeed about an elephant, one kept in captivity in Bristol zoo. Despite his fame and popularity, he "wants to go home". The track develops instrumentally including a passage which would appear to imply that we are talking about an Indian elephant. For obvious reasons, this is the progressive core of the album.

"Amazing Agnes" which opens side two has a reggae type rhythm and the most peculiar lyrics, which appear to be an ode from a mule to a cow.

"Agnes you're the nicest cow this side of Timbuktu"

"Father Frankenstein is behind your pillow" continues James Warren's bent for obscure, almost deranged lyrics, once again with strong Beatles influences melodically.

"Keep on clucking" is not a pheasant plucking style play on words, but a straight encouragement to a thousand chickens to avoid the "Factory line". The song has an unusually rock beat to it, with and an infectious rhythm. Warren and Walter swap guitar for the song, so that Walter can play lead on his composition. Walter, or Crunberry as he was christened by the band, was originally intended to play lead guitar with Stackridge, but found his lack of practice prevented him from doing so. Mutter Slater takes centre stage for his sole composition the brief melancholy piano recital "Story of my heart". The album closes with a reprise of the title track introducing "Tea time". This gently repetitive melody is transformed via Mutter's flute into a frantic violin workout with a mellotron adding symphonic overtones. The marching beat of the percussion helps to give a Celtic flavour.

"Friendliness" is a great introduction to Stackridge. It features the many facets of the band with a liberal helping of their satirical lyricism too. If you are one of those who sometimes wishes prog would not be quite so serious, this is worth seeking out.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Someone said the strangest thing is friendliness."

Literally so, in speaking of this album. But what an absolute treasure this is. Describing it is not easy. A very English piece of folk-rock that combines traditional Pub sing-a-long music with the Abbey Road flavor of the Beatles (Sun King, Mean Mr. Mustard type stuff). All is delivered with unbelievably high quality vocals, instrumentation, and production. There is also a slight psych undercurrent, imagine songs not so far from the style of Syd Barrett, but played more straightforward and with a sunnier disposition perhaps. Whimsical stories are treated to the most careful, loving arrangements you've ever heard. Vocal harmonies are as perfect as can be, acoustic guitars sound very crisp. There are delightful piano passages, violin and cello accents, and flutes. Simple folk songs become much more when tastefully peppered with such high-minded performances and bit of eclectic rock and roll.

Highlights include the stoic opener "Lummy Days" with its bouncy and festive announcement that you are about to experience musical individualism, that is, folk music on its own terms. Love it or leave it! There is the two part title track which is a proclamation of amazement that people manage friendships which can be difficult as we all know. Delicate harmonized vocals are set atop acoustic guitars. "Anyone for Tennis" is a clear nod to Beatles tracks like Rocky Raccoon, with a whimsical ditty adorned with lovely orchestrations and a vocal every bit as sweet as Sir Paul, yes these guys can sing. "There is no Refuge" is a quiet ballad with piano and violin, lovely. The big epic here is the 9 minute "Syracuse the Elephant" which lives up to its impressive title! Pure magic. The story of an elephant who wants to go home but ends up in Hollywood of all places. The vocal sections break for another great piano/violin interlude. The second half brings in some delicious flute. "Amazingly Agnes" is one of the modest "rocker" tracks which brings a more traditional drum/bass rhythm, though still pleasantly quirky. It has a bit of a reggae feel to it. "Father Frankenstein" is another cute Beatle-esque track. "Keep on Clucking" is a bluesy rocker with some jamming electric guitar and the story of chickens headed for the factory line! "Story of my Heart" is a beautiful, slow, and introspective piano solo. "Teatime" ends the album on a very strong note. An excellent piece of songwriting with strong violin and flute interplay. The lyrics are fabulous talking about taking a journey, and how everything was wonderful, but really, all he wants to do is get home and have tea. In other words, yeah, there's this big crazy world out there that we're supposed to shoot for, but really, I just want some peace and quiet-please shut the door on your way out. I love this band, they package great songs together with a very dry humor and impeccable playing. Very, very close to a folk-rock masterpiece. 4+ stars. Highly recommended to fans of folk-rock, Beatles, English whimsy, and lovely melodies.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I felt Stackridge debut album was a very promising release and itīs an album I enjoy on occasion. I gave it 3 big stars as I felt the last something was missing before I could justify giving it 4 stars. With this Stackridge second album that something is very much present. Itīs a great album and probably the best Stackridge ever made.

The music reminds me of early Genesis with a folk edge and also The Beatles. There are many beautiful acoustic parts and lots of violin and flute. The vocals are the most impressive thing though. They are really beautiful. There are lots of vocal harmonies. The songs are all excellent from the opening instrumental piece Lummy Days to the Symphonic epic like Syracuse the Elephant and to the rocking Story of My Heart. The music is diverse enough to never get trivial, something happens all the time to keep you entertained.

The CD bonus tracks are a good addition to the original LP tracks. There is a short version of Slark from the debut album and both Purple Spaceships Over Yatton and Everyman are very much in line with the rest of the album. Really beautiful melodic songs.

The lyrics has to be mentioned too. They continue in the vein of the lyrics on the debut album which means strange cartoon like stories about animals acting like humans and other strange things. The images created through the lyrics is very strong and helps Stackridge to create their own identity.

The musicians are great. Most of the music is rather subtle and beautiful but they also master the more rocking parts. As mentioned the singing is what impresses me most. Really beautiful.

The sound quality is excellent here on Friendliness. I had som reservations toward the drum sound on Stackridge debut album, but here everything sounds great.

Stackridge have done exactly what I hoped they would with this second album and I think Friendliness deserves 4 stars. Fans of Genesis should try this one out as there are many similarities. Stackridge is not one of the endless clones though as they definitely have their own style.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars Way, way too British for my tastes. Stackridge remind me of other über-British things like Beggars Opera or Absolutely Fabulous or fish n’ chips or warm beer. Great stuff I’m sure, but I for one just can’t get into any of them. On top of that the Beatles parroting is too prevalent and too heavy for me to take these guys seriously as a creative force in their own right.

The one adjective that keeps popping in my head to describe this music is ‘jaunty’. I could use that in a sentence referring to just about any track on the record, and the result would be an accurate depiction. Even the mellower tracks like “There is no Refugee” have a jaunty feel (see what I mean?), in that one’s case thanks to the piano track. The song reminds me a bit of early seventies ELO as well by the way, who were also a Beatles tribute band in some respects (although very good in their own right when they wanted to be).

The songs are entertaining enough at times, like on the protracted “Syracuse the Elephant” where Sir Syracuse is apparently a manic-depressive elephant in the zoo; or Amazing Agnes, a sonnet from an ass to a cow. Fun stuff no doubt, but the dry wit of British humorists can be difficult to get into if that isn’t part of your culture. The lengthy string/keyboard instrumental passage on “Syracuse the Elephant” is quite pleasant though.

And speaking of keyboards, I loved the piano instrumental on “Keep on Clucking” for its understated charm and quiet elegance. But that was probably the highlight of the record for me, while the rest seemed almost juvenile at times in its humor and delivery. And tracks like “Story of my Heart” and “Teatime” are not only Beatlesque, they are also so dated-sounding that they seem to have come from 1967 rather than 1972.

So in a nutshell I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this album, it’s just not my cup of tea (culturally speaking). These things happen. Three stars anyway because the compositions are structurally good, even if the entire package doesn’t do anything for me personally.


Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The release of Stackridge's debut was followed by an extended tour throughout the British Islands along with Renaissance (and yes, Renaissance was actually the supporting band!) and the first appearance on the famous BBC Sessions held by John Peel.Come 1972 and Stackridge continued their live sets, now next to Wishbone Ash and Forever More.Original bassist Jim "Crun" Walter, who had left the band prior to the debut, rejoined Stackridge and the line-up was expanded to a sextet with Billy "Sparkle" Bent on drums, Mike "Mutter" Slater on flute/vocals, James Warren on guitar/vocals, Mike Evans on violin and Andy Davis on guitar/keyboards/vocals.The second album ''Friendliness'' was quickly recorded at the small Sound Technique Studios in Chelsea during August 72' and released in November, supported by MCA both for the UK and US market.

Instead of taking their sound a step further, Stackridge appear to have been struck by a nostalgic 60's syndrome and their sophomore effort sounds more poppy and less progressive than their debut.Reputedly the limited time in the studio forced the band to use material predating ''Stackridge'' and the result was an album with strong THE BEATLES and PROCOL HARUM influences and less, quirky instrumental themes.Moreover there is almost no track to clock at over 4 minutes (except ''Syracuse the elephant'' and ''Teatime'').The stunning opener ''Lummy days'' gives hopes for another monumental work, being an all instrumental workout based on violin, piano and flutes with impressive interplays, somewhere between British Folk and Classical Music, but the following tracks are more in a Psychedelic Pop vein with some orchestral and Folk underlines, characterized by a strong sense of melody and sweet, British-styled vocals in the abscence of demanding instrumentation.''Syracuse the elephant'' still holds the prog flag high, a decent Prog Folk piece with plenty of room for folky atmospheres and rich instrumentation, containing even some Eastern influences due to the use of sitar.The other long track, ''Teatime'', holds these pre-mature GENESIS inspirations with flute, violin and tambourine in evidence and some great Mellotron waves next to the smooth guitar playing.

While not on par with the stunning debut, ''Friendliness'' is a fine album of Proto-Prog aesthetics, where 60's Psych/Baroque/Pop meets the rising star of Progressive Rock.Nice melodies, Folk references and a few great pieces result a far from essential, still warmly recommended work.

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