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Stackridge - The Man in the Bowler Hat (AKA Pinafore days) CD (album) cover

THE MAN IN THE BOWLER HAT (AKA PINAFORE DAYS)

Stackridge

 

Prog Folk

3.24 | 35 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

Third album from this strange and quirky combo with the sextet line-up unchanged. Generally regarded as their best by connoisseurs (most likely due to Sir George Martin's production and he played piano on two tracks), the album comes in a gatefold sleeve, but I must say that they could've made so much better with a little better judgment. Again, Stackridge pulls an incredibly English mood, and while I would not call it as typically folk (as in the folk rock of Fairport, Pentangle or even Comus), the group does have the traditional songs as the main influences and these guys entertained a bit of music hall tradition as they use Rhubarb leaves and garbage cans as stage props.

Starting again on the Beatlesque Fundamentally Yours, and continuing on the similar Pinafore Days, the album is full of strings and other arrangements (which I find are cluttering and choking the songs) and most of the album's lyrics are attributed to Smegmakovitch (bless you ;-), whomever he might be. The longer Last Plimsoul does pull the proghead's interest by finally giving us a bit more of musical interplay and the also longer Road To Venezuela but this is about it for interest on the first side. Both are separated by a very cheesy and overly symphonic Sun And Moon track.

The second side opens on the silly Galloping Gaucho (much too much a music hall track) the first one sung by flutist Mutter Slater and beautifully pastoral, slightly cheesy (but ultimately boring) Humiliation. More boredom awaits the proghead with Dangerous Bacon and Indifferent Hedgehog. Only the bright God Speed The Plough shows the group's real capacities at excellent and inventive songwriting, but even then, it is brought down by heavy Martin orchestrations. Ultimately I would prefer groups like Klaatu that managed a more credible and entertaining Beatles impersonation than this mistake of an album.

Not really agreeing on TMWTBH being their best album, I was always very taken aback from the overall Beatles-pop influences (always present in Stackridge's oeuvre), but this was a mistake to call on Sir George Martin. I would rather guide you with the preceding Friendliness or Extravanganza or even the rock opera of Mr. Mick.

Sean Trane | 2/5 |

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