Saturday, 2 June 2012

Stackridge (1971-1976)

Stackridge released five albums between the years 1971 and 1976.  The general sound of the band is quirky pop with humorous and occasionally whimsical lyrics with absolutely no machismo attached.  All of the albums are great and come highly recommended.  If I had to give any criticism and I'm struggling, it would be that some of the songs can be too long and bordering on prog, sometimes sounding a little like Genesis, although with much better vocals (I'm not a fan of Peter Gabriel!).

So, like the NRBQ post a while back, I have selected the top 13 Stackridge songs so you can make your essential compilation. Here they are in chronological order...

From Stackridge (MCA - 1971)

Marigold Conjunction
A strong, late Beatles influence on this track, complete with Harrison-esque double tracked guitar solo.  Some nice, not too over the top orchestration and great vocal harmonies throughout. This wouldn't sound out of place on the Story album by Honeybus. I wonder if they played this when they opened the very first Glastonbury festival in 1970?

Marzo Plod
The Marzo Plod that Stackridge are singing about must have been a relative of Maxwell Edison.  One listen to this and you'll understand what I'm talking about.  John Lennon wouldn't have liked this song!


From Friendliness (MCA - 1972)

Friendliness (part 1)
For the title track of their second album the band give Sun King a run for its money. The song is reprised as Friendliness (part 2) on the flip side of the album with more instrumentation but I prefer this version.

Amazingly Agness
A real bouncy, almost reggae number containing the lyrics "Handcuffed my ankles to number ten Downing Street claiming I was Winston Churchill". Very likeable.

Father Frankenstein Is Behind Your Pillow
With it's title looking like something by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band the song comes over like a dreamier "Your Mother Should Know". Lots of subtle instrumentation, ethereal guitar, a splash of Moog and some backwards sounds for the fade out make this a late popsike gem.


From Man in the Bowler Hat (MCA - 1974)

Fundamentally Yours
A real Wings-like song from the album produced by none other than George Martin that makes me think the band were quite happy with the Beatles comparisons and decided to go the whole hog.  The album was released in the US under the title "Pinafore Days".

Dangerous Bacon
This is as heavy as the band would ever get, though that's not saying much.  A light electric piano stomper with Jeff Lynne-esque drums and some cool compressed sax. A bit like Rockin' Horses "Julian the Hooligan" without the snarl so err, yeah, very Beatley!


From  Extravaganza (Rocket - 1975)

Happy In The Lord
I didn't want to compare this to the Rutles' "Double Back Alley" but I just did. It's all I think of when I hear it but I mean that as a compliment, and this did come first so that makes it ok. The band were the first to be signed to Elton John's Rocket label on which this was released.

Grease Paint Smiles
The Rutles "Living in Hope" anyone? The vocal style seems to have changed for this album and I can't work out if it is a different singer as it sounds more like Jimmy Campbell than the lush vocal style of the first three albums.

Benjamin's Giant Onion
This is prime piano pop sang in a knee slapping cockney style about a man who's obsession with his onions finally sends him insane.  Bordering on Chas & Dave, but there's something about this I like.


From  Mr. Mick (Rocket - 1976) 

Hold Me Tight
A reggae-lite take on the Fab's classic might not be everyone's cup of tea but I love it.  This cover version was insisted by Rocket, who from what I have read recently, treated their acts pretty shitty.

Save A Red Face
Originally entitled "The Cotton Reel Song", they don't come more bouncier than this.  If you want a crap analogy (and lets face it, this post is full of them) I'd say Ronnie Lane doing "Don't Pass Me By".

Hey Good Looking
My favourite track on the album.  Sounding like a long lost classic by 10cc, this was originally going to be the album opener until Rocket stuck their nose in.  Check out "The Original Mr. Mick" CD for a longer version of this song plus some other tracks which make the concept of the album (and the dodgy sleeve) a little more understandable.


Stackridge broke up after the Mr Mick album partly due to the lack of success of that and the previous albums.  Members James Warren and Andy Davis would return a few years later as New Wave act, The Korgis who turned out some great pop songs, most notably their biggest hit, "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime", which made it to number 5 in the UK charts and number 18 in the US.  A great tune, murdered many times by more than it's fair share of techno artists.  Stackridge reformed in 2007 and have released new material and continue to perform live.  I just missed out on seeing them play an instore performance at Flashback Records in London on Record Store Day 2012. I was only round the corner when I found out about it, literally minutes after the set had finished.  Still, I intend to check them out if ever they play nearby and so should you.

Check out the bands official site for more info and great stories. I especially like the one about the John Lennon Imagine session.


4 comments:

  1. Great band! And what you think about The Toms?

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  2. Some nice selections, some of which I still need to check out. "Friendliness" was my first exposure to Stackridge, and still could be my favorite of theirs. I also really like the Queen-like "Anyone For Tennis?" which missed the top 13 cut. Ion

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