1. Grande Piano
Once upon a time, there was a band called Stackridge. Inspired by three disparate musical influences – the Beatles, Frank Zappa and the Incredible String Band – they aspired, according to guitarist, bassist and singer James Warren to ‘a pure, solid melodicism, rhythmic complexity and a weird combination of pastoral,
philosophical and positively surreal lyrics.’
The original six-piece line-up that came together in Bristol in 1969 comprised Warren, Andy Davis (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Jim ‘Crun’ Walter (bass) from local blues band Griptight Thynne, Mutter Slater (flute, vocals), Mike Evans (violin) and Bill Bent (drums).
Their originally selected name, Stackridge Lemon, was quickly and sensibly shortened. They had managed to play the very first Glastonbury in 1970 – not 1971, as official histories sometimes suggest – alongside Keith Christmas, Al Stewart and Marc Bolan. ‘We were the opening act and came back on at the end of the second day to finish the proceedings,’ is James’ sole recollection of what was then known as ‘The Shepton Mallet Rhythm and Blues Festival’. Oh, and the free milk from Michael Eavis’s herd.
‘Stackridge’ was created on 16-track equipment at Kingsway Studios, London in 1971 with the help of producer Fritz Fryer of Sixties harmony group the Four Pennies; engineer was Martin Birch, who went on to produce many famous heavy metal acts. Quite what he made of Stackridge’s cast of characters that inhabited their songs is not known. This album was originally released on 6th August 1971.
Now remastered by James Warren and Andy Davis – enjoy English popular music at its creative best.
ANDY DAVIS, JAMES WARREN, MUTTER SLATER, JIM WALTER, MICHAEL EVANS, BILLY BENT
...At the end of a moving farewell tour, they decided to give a final concert at the Fiddlers Club in Bristol on December 19, 2015. That evening they were accompanied by Glenn Tommey (keyboards, vocals), old acquaintance who once played on the first album of The Korgis in 1979, Eddie John (drums) and Clare Lindley (violin, guitar, vocals)...long-time friend Mutter Slater honours the group with his presence on two titles, 'Purple Spaceships Over Yatton' and 'Slark'. Still, with the same sense of derision, Stackridge offers a festive show where good mood is in order despite a palpable emotion...
Prog Female Voices (Translated - July 2017)
This new 2CD live set was recorded at Bristol and as the title says was their 'Final Bow' after 45 years the band have finally called it a day. I wish them a long and happy 'retirement'. To those of you who are familiar with their output you will find, probably, a good few favourites here, remember 'Do The Stanley'? If you are new to the band prepare to enjoy! I found myself repeatedly going back to CD2 tracks 4-6 and just smiling the tracks in question being 'No Ones More Important Than The Earthworm' 'Lost And Found' and 'Boots And Shoes'. 'Earthworm' was in fact written by Gordon Haskell (Fleur-dy-lys, Ruperts People) Gordon never became a band member but had many connections, but that's another story! It's just a delight of a song and a title! Those three tracks just sum up the band for me. But then there's 'Slark' and 'Dora The Female Explorer' and...well its all just so bloody enjoyable. Its fitting this should also be Angel Airs 500th release, half a grand, but a whole grand time to be had by all. Enjoy!
ninebattles.com (July 2017)
...Mutter Slater returns to add flute to signature tune 'Slark', and the expansive 'Purple Spaceships Over Yatton' but there are newer numbers too. A sad, beautiful farewell - but, given their past, one's never certain that Stackridge have ever split up for good.
Record Collector (July 2017)
Andy Davis shines on so many tracks but Red Squirrel and The Final Bow glow to my ears. Of course we mustn't forget little James Warren, who many consider to be the band's Paul McCartney to Andy Davis's John Lennon. Here that likeness is reinforced with sweet vocals and Beatlesque harmonies and melodic bass lines, amply showcased on Fundamentally Yours and The Last Plimsol. (And yes you do recognise James Warren's voice - he sang lead on The Korgis worldwide smash Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime.)
Both the two aforementioned songs though, first appeared on the George Martin produced The Man in the Bowler Hat, an album he held in much affection and is often considered to be one of the finest albums he produced outside of the Beatles.
In many ways the Beatles comparison is obvious and fitting, the constant need to develop and change, pulling in influences from disparate musical traditions but always remembering to write a killer tune. The difference of course is that no-one wonders why the Beatles are so under appreciated...
This parting gift is full of similar killer tunes, and after 46 years of loving them I am going to miss Stackridge live, but I have this wonderful memory of a wonderful day.
The Progressive Aspect (July 2017)
This 2-CD set captures the band at their final gig in front of a partisan and parochial audience just before Christmas 2015. Of course, we've had the previous live set 'The Forbidden City' in 2007 so this really is a gentle update as much as a poignant reminder of a great band...Fittingly, given Angel Air's faith in the band's more recent restoration, this is the label's 500th release in its 20th year. Fan and manager reminiscences in the liner notes pad out an excellent souvenir. Stackridge may be history but their music lives on. ****
Get Ready to ROCK! (July 2017)
This recording of their final gig at Bristol's Fiddlers Club marks Angel Air's 500th album release and provides an appealing celebration of Stackridge's quirkily melodic approach to music-making, with former frontman Mutter Slater rejoining their ranks for a couple of perennial crowd-pleasers, "Purple Spaceships Over Yatton" and the epic "Slark".
Kevin Bryan, Regional Newspapers (June 2017)
Stackridge are at the heart of Angel Air Records, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and is now releasing their 500th album...The Final Bow was recorded at a packed Fiddlers Club in Bristol on December 19th 2015 as Andy Davis, James Warren, Clare Lindley, Glen Tommey and Eddie John were joined on stage by former member Mutter Slater. This double CD includes 'Over The Horizon', 'Long Dark River', 'Fish In A Glass', 'Slark', 'Lummy Days' and 'Purple Spaceships Over Yatton'.
Bev Bevan, Sunday Mercury (May 2017)
The CD on this set is a 'best of' which has been seen before back in 2006 and is a good introduction to this quirky band who cover everything from folk through to pop, whimsical tunes like ‘The Galloping Gaucho’ and a bit of prog as can be heard on ‘Fish In A Glass’. The band are very talented musically and for those new to the band this is a good as place as any to start off.
The DVD was recorded at a concert in Bath last year and is preceded by interviews with avid fans who were obviously really looking forward to the gig. The set list comprise twenty five songs including the Korgis hit 'Everybody’s Got To Love Sometime' as the Korgis featured a couple of members of Stackridge. The band’s sound is expanded in the live arena by adding two female violinists, one of whom also adds backing vocals. As an added bonus you get interviews with the band members (conducted on a rooftop of all places!) where the band give some wonderful insights into the first ever Glastonbury festival.
A perfect sound and visual introduction to the band who deserve a wider audience to go with the critical acclaim they have already received down the years. ****
Jason Ritchie, www.getreadytorock.com (August 2008)
Another excellent CD/DVD package from Angel Air, this time featuring the eclectic band Stackridge.
The CD has fifteen tracks culled from the band's entire catalogue; going back to their eponymously titled debut album from 1971 and coming right up to date with a re-working of 'Purple Spaceships Over Yatton'.
The instrumental 'Lummy Days' is a strong opener, and amongst the collection are favourites such as 'Syracuse The Elephant' and 'Do The Stanley'.
If you've never heard any of Stackridge's music before, this is a great place to start, and it'll have old fans digging out their old albums again.
The DVD is a gem, a live concert filmed in 2007 at a sold out Rondo Theatre in Bath. Two and a half hours of classic Stackridge music featuring the band's main four stalwart members James Warren, Andy Davis, Mutter Slater and Crun Walter.
Martin Hutchinson. The Bolton News (August 2008)
An audio CD featuring many of the band's finest musical moments is coupled with a DVD recorded at their concert in Bath last year...
Kevin Bryan, Stirling Advertiser
...combination of quirky pop, understated classical elements and a pastorally English songwriting maturity retains its charm down the years...
Steve Caseman, RocknReel (October 2008)
...the irresistibly melodic Squeeze-style Last Plimsoll, the gorgeous pop harmonies of Friendliness and the proggy instrumental Purple Spaceships Over Yatton indicate that Stackridge were more than funsters...a fine collection...
Classic Rock Society (October/November 2008)
A perfect melange to lose the game - and be revered now...And then go back to investigate the albums' context.
www.dmme.net (November 2008)
...while it may be too late for Stackridge to attain any modicum of the fame and fortune that eluded them in their prime, a case could be made that for a deserving ensemble such as this, any attempt - even three and a half decades on -- is still none too late.
Of course, one should expect there would be ample evidence as to why anyone other than their original diehard devotees should care about Stackridge resurfacing. So fortunately, these two double discs offer the uninitiated an enticing backwards glance of the group in all their glory via the cream of their catalogue. While 'Anyone For Tennis?' offers a basic compilation/compendium (as well as a DVD of the aforementioned The Forbidden City performance),
...while 'Anyone for Tennis' is fine for starters, it takes 'The Forbidden City' to prove -- its intimidating title aside -- that catching up on guilty pleasures like these can be ever so liberating.
Lee Zimmerman, November 2008
...many of the band's finest musical moments...
Kevin Bryan, Stirling Advertiser (January 2009)
Fans of the eccentric Bristolians should welcome this opportunity to compare and contrast the two creative visions on display here
Kevin Bryan, Hartlepool Mail (May 2007)
Witty lyrics, discreetly satisfying instrument embellishments and wistful West Country vocals produce a light masterpiece of gentle poignancy
RocknReel (June 2007)
...just as engaging as any of its predecessors
Jo-Ann Greene, Goldmine, April 27 2007
Not an easy album to come to grips with, buit one which grows, and sounds better as a CD slab rather than two vinyl sides...
Maverick (October 2007)
Fans of the eccentric Bristollians should welcome this opportunity to compare and contrast the two creative visions on display here...
Kevin Bryan, Stirling News (Dec 2007)
Now here's something special...they really do sound as fine as ever...They are essentially a rock band with a bluesy and sometimes funky edge and these songs give all the chance to shine, showing there's plenty in the tank yet.
Classic Rock Society (Dec 2007)
...their sterling efforts this time yielded beguilingly memorable tracks...Excellent stuff.
Kevin Bryan, Hartlepool Mail (April 2007)
It follows a similar idiosyncratic and distinctive approach to their earlier work, although with a more focused form of madness...
Rock n Reel (May 2007)
...there was much more to this jesterly West Country bunch than an anarchic stretching of the boundaries of folk into Old Grey Whistle Test territory...an impossible hybrid of jazz-rock and folk, though the CD retains much of the festival-friendly frolics that came as part of the original package.
Record Collector (May 2007)
As surprising as it may sound, here are comedy character vignettes worthy (and reminiscent) of Ian Dury, and a bouncy playfulness that blends music-hall tinkling, cod reggae brass and easy interludes to bring to mind The Buzzcocks, Zappa and even Madness
Derek Hammond, Record Collector (April 2007)
'an exceptionally well-formed and functioning band with a grasp of their musical history and an ability to craft songs that pulled together an eclectic albeit potentially commercial collection of musical strands.
Danny Moore, Rock&Reel (April 2007)
Desperate recklessness could be the motivation for this record yet its motif is as jolly as it gets...a different kind of gem.
Let It Rock (April 2007)
This likeable outfit continued to mine the same rich vein of peculiarly English musical eccentricity which had won them so many friends in previous years
Kevin Bryan, Mid-Sussex Chronicle (May 2007)
...more professional musically, if lacking in off-the-wall inspiration...
Maverick (October 2007)
Wild, wacky and wonderful, this 1975 set is best described as Stackridge's answer to Sgt. Pepper, as written by Monty Python, while simultaneously channelling the Gershwins...
Jo-Ann Greene, Goldmine (November 2007)