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Stackridge - Friendliness CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

3.72 | 42 ratings

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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.

apps79 | 3/5 |


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