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Prog Folk • United Kingdom

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Stackridge biography
Often billed as the West Country Beatles, this Bristol sextet started out of the local folk scene from there and developed quickly a strange presence on stage with the group using rhubarb leaves and dustbin lids as stage props and their strange cartoon-like characters described in their songs, a bit reminiscent of Gong's Planet Gong. The debut album (recorded only as a quintet) is full of those very bizarre heroes, but let's some real space for instrumental interplay often mixing their folk rock with symphonic instrumentation. By the second album, the again-sextet was building a healthy following in the club and university circuit.

Their fixation with the Beatles pushed them to require Sir George Martin's services for their third album Bowler Hat, but although the group gained a better visibility, it was at the expense of the humour and group soul. This will cause such a rift in the band that even before the album got a release, only two members were left in the band. Having to rebuild the group, they got transferred to Elton John's private label Rocket Records (still distributed by MCA) and in came Rod Bowkett (who will write most tunes on the new album) and Audience's Keith Gemmel, which will change the sound of the band since they now have two wind players. The ensuing album Extravaganza returns to the madness of their first two albums with the second side simply mind-blowing. The group will again disintegrate and will reform with original bassist Crun Walter back in the fold and Dave Lawson (ex-Web/Samurai and then-Greenslade) as a guest. Their album will a full-blown concept album describing Mr Mick's daily life and dreams.

Stackridge has reformed and released a few live album around the turn of the century.

:::: Bio written by Hugues Chantraine, Belgium ::::

Why this artist must be listed in :
Another all-too-forgotten prog gem

Stackridge - 71
Friendliness - 72
The Man in the Bowler Hat - 74
Extravaganza - 74
Mr Mick - 76

Stackridge official website

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STACKRIDGE discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

STACKRIDGE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.77 | 39 ratings
3.71 | 36 ratings
3.19 | 27 ratings
The Man in the Bowler Hat (AKA Pinafore days)
3.46 | 19 ratings
3.19 | 13 ratings
Mr Mick
3.83 | 6 ratings
Something For The Weekend
4.13 | 8 ratings
The Original Mr Mick
3.98 | 11 ratings
A Victory For Common Sense

STACKRIDGE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.05 | 3 ratings
BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Radio 1 Sessions (Live)
0.00 | 0 ratings
Pick of the Crop : Live At Cropredy 2000

STACKRIDGE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.13 | 4 ratings
The Forbidden City

STACKRIDGE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 4 ratings
Do The Stanley
3.47 | 10 ratings
Sex And Flags
4.50 | 2 ratings
Purple Spaceships Over Yatton- Best Of

STACKRIDGE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Lemon 2002


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Man in the Bowler Hat (AKA Pinafore days) by STACKRIDGE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.19 | 27 ratings

The Man in the Bowler Hat (AKA Pinafore days)
Stackridge Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Stackridge's popularity increased with each release and in February the band made its television debut on a BBC programm, followed by a two-month tour.It was something like a tradition for them to be supported by future Prog Rock giants, this time the supporting act meant to be the legendary Camel.Later on ex-Audience Keith Gemmell joined the band on saxophone and during the summer they recorded their third work ''The man in the bowler hat'' at the Air Studios in London, supervised by The Beatles' producer George Martin, who also appeared in a few tracks as a pianist.The album was the last one on MCA, launched in 1974 and released in a different version in USA and Canada under the title ''Pinafore days''.

At this point Stackridge appear to lose contact with their progressive beginnings, the presence of George Martin on the production stool surfaced an even more evident THE BEATLES' relation both on vocal and instrumental parts and the complex themes have been pretty much reduced to zero.On the other hand this was not your average Pop/Folk Rock album, it maintained a highly sophisticated profile with demanding orchestrations and instrumental richness among the sweet mono- and polyphonic harmonies and the charming melodies with the discreet GENESIS influences being still around in the guitar and organ parts, this is basically an Art Pop album with glimpses of British Prog Rock, heavily relying on the instrumental variety, lots of flute, strings and keyboards pop out in the process next to the standard electroacoustic sound of the band.The long tracks are sorely missed here and actually their length has been decreased to an average of 3 minutes each, but the inspiration of the British veterans remains always at a high level, even if THE MOODY BLUES, THE BEATLES or STEELEYE SPAN seem like more appropriate comparisons than to say Genesis or Strawbs.Veteran producer George Martin helped the band to complete some great orchestral moves, doubled with Britrish Folk and Pop sensibilities, the result was a pretty fascinating work with lovely harmonies and a pretty accesible sound.

Not among the priorities of a Classic Prog fan.This sounds mostly like The Beatles at their most complicated attempts, orchestral and melodic music with minor proggy vibes, quite tasteful and fairly entertaining.Recommended.

 Friendliness by STACKRIDGE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 36 ratings

Stackridge Prog Folk

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.

 Stackridge by STACKRIDGE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.77 | 39 ratings

Stackridge Prog Folk

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The cover art work really says a lot about what's awaiting on the inside. Either on the LP or the CD. Or the cassette for that matter. The seagulls and the colours describe this album pretty well.

Released in 1971 and in a very strong folk rock scene which counted a lot of the best bands this genre has ever seen. Fairport Convention for example. But the music on this album also has a lot of the new pop sound in it. Some songs here reminds me a lot about what Sir Paul McCartney did back in those days. His first solo album, in particular. But the symphonic prog scene was also strong back then and a band like Renaissance was really moving the goalposts a lot. On the other side of the scene, Led Zeppelin was making a huge racket.

In the middle of all this, Stackridge soaked it up and released this album. For some reason and as my reference point, a lot of this album reminds me about their fellow mates Magna Carta. That's probably because I have all their albums though. Stackridge is more noisy and more energetic than Magna Carta.

The songs on this album is good without knocking me over in joy. The fourteen minutes long Slark tells about a lot of ambitions from this band without really pulling it off. The best two songs here are Dora the Female Explorer and Essence of Porphyry. But this is by no means a bad album from a band which anno 2011 is still touring and having fun.

This is a good debut album and recommended.

3 stars

 A Victory For Common Sense by STACKRIDGE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.98 | 11 ratings

A Victory For Common Sense
Stackridge Prog Folk

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Part of the reunion

Having achieved a limited but creditable amount of local success in the 1970's, Stackridge called it a day in 1977. Almost exactly 20 years later, a quorum of the members agreed to give it another go, and to date three further albums of original material have been released. "A victory for common sense" is the latest of these (at time of writing in 2011) having appeared in 2009. The line up which recorded the album boast no fewer than four of the six people considered to form the band's classic line up, with just violinist Mike Evans and drummer Billy Bent being absent. Guest musicians, whose participation in the band varies from the transitory to full member in all but name, fill the absentees roles as well as providing further diversity of available instruments.

The album consists of just nine tracks, all but one of which is written or co-written by Andy Davis, with the rest of the band plus guest Glenn Tommey receiving credits on selected tracks. By and large it is fair to say that the prog nuances with which the band dabbled all those years ago are largely forgotten here, in favour of the lighter and more whimsical side of the band which has always co-existed with those nuances. There is therefore a reliance on catchy hooks and strong melodies, and as usual Stackridge deliver with aplomb on that score.

The opening "Boots And Shoes" bears the familiar Beatles influences and Korgis (a Stackridge offshoot) style pop rock, the song being an obvious candidate for single release. "The old country" takes an affectionately nostalgic look back towards the UK from the point of view of an ex-pat living on the other side of the world. The song has echoes of the Strawbs "Part of the union" in melody and style.

"(Waiting For You And) England To Return" is altogether softer, with acoustic guitar and high vocals painting a reflective picture of times gone. The violin solo within the song is similar to that which features on latter day Fairport Convention albums. "Red Squirrel" sounds like a medley of Beatles (and indeed Oasis!) songs, including the chiming lead guitar of "I want you (she's so heavy)". "North St. Grande" was released as a free download for Christmas 2010, the song being a letter from the front type old time Christmas song.

The slightly weightier material on the album begins with the 7 minute "Long dark river", a song with an American folk rock twinge; a sort of Beach Boys meets Crosby Stills and Nash. There is also once again a fair bit of Korgis in the song although interestingly this is the only song Davis was not involved in writing, Jim "Crun" Walter getting the sole credit. The track boast a good lead guitar break to finish things off.

"Lost And Found" once again mixes Beatles with Korgis and perhaps a bit of 10CC. The song has an infectious melody, with dreamy overtones and some good harmonies. "Cheese And Ham" contrasts pleasantly inoffensive lyrics with peaceful harmonies, the song taking a slightly harder turn as the child's father intervenes in his future. The album closes with an 11 minute piece entitled "The Day The World Stopped Turning". While there is something of a nod to prog here, especially in the superb flute and violin contributions, the track appears to be more of a medley of ideas than an extended composition as such. That is not intended to be said in criticism though, and as a whole the track is probably the high point of the album.

Overall, another fine album in the Stackridge discography. Being honest, there is little if any genuine prog here, but this is more than compensated for by the strong melodies and tight performances throughout.

Since the release of this album, vocalist Mutter Slater has once again left the band (amicably). It appears though that the other members remain committed to Stackridge as a going concern.

 Stackridge by STACKRIDGE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.77 | 39 ratings

Stackridge Prog Folk

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Among the most legendary names of the British folk rock movement,this Bristol-based band were formed in 1969 by Andy Creswell-Davis and James Warren as Stackridge Lemon,soon to be named simply Stackridge.1970 finds the band having an intense live activity,playing also at the first Glastonbury Festival and the next year thing get even better with Stackridge supporting Wishbone Ash on their UK tour and signing with the famous MCA Records.Their debut was a fact,recorded at De Lane Lea Studios in London.

And what a great debut this is.''Stackridge'' is actually a mixed bag of short BEATLES-esque pop tunes and longer arrangements played in some sort of symphonic/folk style.Well,even these short accesible tunes are well-played with rich instrumentation and good multi- vocals,blended nicely with folsky violins,tracks which even THE BEATLES would be proud of creating.But it is these long arrangements which make this album so special like the great ''The Three Legged Table'',starting off like Phillips-era GENESIS,pastoral acoustic-driven musicianship later to become a catchy brass/violin-rock heaven with perfect vocal lines.''Essence of Porphyry'' is another (instrumental) highlight with complex instrumentation featuring violin and cello in a Medieval style and excellent acoustic passages with fantastic flute work,always under a classical nature,like a cross between GENESIS and GENTLE GIANT...or the 14-min. long ''Slark'',which closes the album,and this one is a beautiful composition split between Folk ballad,Medieval Music and Symphonic Rock with again some superb vocals.A real treasure.

Stackridge's debut is more than simply a great album.Even the easy-listening side of the band contains an unbielevable professionalism and an unmet personality,not to refer the absolutely fantastic performance of their progressive nature,marking this effort one of the most significant and impressive debut's in UK's prog history.Highly recommended,whether you are a fan of British Folk Music or not.

 Stackridge by STACKRIDGE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.77 | 39 ratings

Stackridge Prog Folk

Review by seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator RPI

4 stars Songs about dustbin lids and rhubarb!

Stackridge is a quintessential English band whose music is very hard to categorize. Their 1971 debut album is a variegated and highly inventive blend of folk, rock and Classical music, and is full of absurdity and quirky humour. This is a fun album. Instrumentally, it is dominated by flute, violin and acoustic guitar. Lyrically, it is filled with colourful characters and fantastical narratives; the band's two lyricists, Andy Creswell-Davis and James Warren, had intended to write a children's book around 6 of the album's songs though this idea never saw the light of day. However at least Stackridge's albums are now widely available on cd, so we can be thankful as these are truly charming works.

Highlights here include the upbeat Beatles pastiche of GRANDE PIANO, the whimsical WEST MALL that recalls The Bonzos, and the band's first single DORA THE FEMALE EXPLORER, which sounds like a West Country version of Lindisfarne complete with fiddle and harmonica. Brilliant! The entire album is good but it's the album's longer tracks that are probably of most interest to prog fans. THREE LEGGED TABLE is a multi-part song that sounds like Trespass- era Genesis with some rock'n'roll tagged on at the end, while the 8-minute instrumental, ESSENCE OF PORPHYRY, is an ambitious chamber music patchwork. However the undoubted centrepiece of the album is the epic SLARK, a 14-minute fairytale about a lad being carried off by the dragon of the title.

Stackridge is an eccentric, eclectic, slightly camp musical extravaganza. It's very English and it's very good.

 A Victory For Common Sense by STACKRIDGE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.98 | 11 ratings

A Victory For Common Sense
Stackridge Prog Folk

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

4 stars SIDENOTE: This won't be normal review (this time seriously)

First review of this beautiful album would also be the first of my Stackridge Voyage. Year 2009, band's so far latest, for me the best one. I've met many new friends here (wonderful people, thank you, you know who), get to know extremely great music (most of what I've been listening before can't be counted as good, except minority (49%) of good things).

After dark period of Anekdoten and then seeing certain post in a forum, I've decided that I want something more cheerful. Something to help me and hopefully also others to fight with fears, with grief and with demons that haunts us. Or does they not ? Depends on who's reading this review right now.

Beautiful melodic funny prog, done in very special British way. Even I mostly don't (can't) pay attention to lyrics, here I can easily understand them, as the language is clear and as I said, funny. Even you simply can't expect some of words in lyrics that appears, because often, this album (Monty Python someone?) depends partially on nonsense humor. Also partially on mockery of what seems to me like traditional things. In this case, it's less prog and more lyrical oriented, but it's not their fault.

And I'll not consider it as big fault, because there can be found good things to justify high rating. Will it be high ? Should it be high ? Hell yeah, because this album has energy. Energy through calmness to hit you from behind your brain. To kick you (also from behind), but relatively lower, little bit down from the center of your body (think two globes).

Its power to make you smile and be in happy mood can be handful at times. Sometimes, you need friends, or music to cheer you up

Some of you maybe know that I'm an atheist, but I know what manners when combined with heart & feelings can do. Take this review as part review, part public PM. Based mostly on my sparse knowing of Rob W. himself. My condolences Robert, in memory of your grandfather. Rest in peace. And remember, there are people, who will feel with you. Not just me. You have friends (no pathetic remarks please, if someone meant them)

Music itself: 4(+)

 The Man in the Bowler Hat (AKA Pinafore days) by STACKRIDGE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.19 | 27 ratings

The Man in the Bowler Hat (AKA Pinafore days)
Stackridge Prog Folk

Review by Dr Pripp

5 stars Well, the Beatels connection is obvious since Sir George Martin produce this album. But do not get fooled. Stackridge has enough to offer to make any pointless comparasing meaningful. They already made two exellent and eclectic albums, so what next?

"The man in the bowler hat" is, if not, an improvment concenering previous efforrts. Gone is the charming ditties and instead we are served a delicate menu of well crafted tunes. For me, a lost nothern hobo from one of the land of the rising sun (norrsken), this is an amalgam of joyus playing and well crafted arrangements. Hard to pick any favorites. the hole album is on the the menu. Take it or leave it!

 Sex And Flags by STACKRIDGE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2005
3.47 | 10 ratings

Sex And Flags
Stackridge Prog Folk

Review by Steven in Atlanta

4 stars Not too many of my all-time faves from the '60s and '70s are even still around, much less making some of the most terrific, vibrant and melody-rich music of a career that goes back to 1970. Stackridge is such an animal.

Stackridge have often been tagged as a west country (as in U.K.) Beatles as much of the melodic invention of the Fabs ca. Magical Mystery Tour & the White Album is still clearly at play in their music. But with sawing violins and twittering flutes also in the mix, they also get lumped under the prog folk tag (as they are here at PA). Perhaps the more ambiguous prog-related is more appropo for Stackridge.

Labeling nonewithstanding, here's a band, reunited for the second time in this case, with both of their main songwriters (Andy Davis and James Warren) each still coming up with the goods after all this time. Always loved bands that had more than one prolific songwriter as that inevitably raised the bar for some great material on some really good albums. It sure does here with Sex and Flags.

This album is actually a compilation of the best tunes from their two most recent releases (1999's Something For the Weekend and 2003's Lemon EP). With quite a few gigs and a new album on tap for 2009, looks like we've got some rare Stackridge momentum going on that will hopefully hit paydirt for them.

In the meantime, jump on Sex and Flags as a great intro to the thoroughly wonderful Stackridge. And then work your way back. A 4.5 from me.

 Friendliness by STACKRIDGE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.71 | 36 ratings

Stackridge Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

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.


Thanks to Sean Trane for the artist addition.

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