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The Citadel, St.Helens 31 March 2012
admire a band that writes about Red Squirrels rather than the red light
district and sometimes more kindergarden than kinky. But I think it's
generally understood why Stackridge failed to reach a wider audience in
something of an acquired taste, quirky, and frequently whimsical in a
very English sort of way. To the
uninitiated they may have appeared as some sort of rocked up bastard
child of The Wurzels but for a generation of students they were a staple
on the college circuit and were as welcome in discussions as early
Genesis and Monty Python.
of an increased budget for their third album and a general feeling that
their George Martin produced 'The Man With The Bowler Hat' (three tracks
featured tonight)would launch them into the big league they ended the
seventies as industry casualties and it took a couple of decades before
a reformation of sorts in 1999.
But in the
meantime James Warren and Andy Davis achieved wider commercial success
with The Korgis whilst still continuing to work on solo material and
sessions. Then, with the release of their back catalogue on Angel Air
from 2005, a new incentive was given and this led ultimately to the
recording of their current studio album released in 2009.
For Common Sense' in the capable production hands of Chris Hughes
successfully updates the band's sound and in many respects reclaims the
mainstream, with several tracks shedding the lighter-hearted aspects
that have characterised their history.
therefore quite shameful that this album has not achieved wider
attention other than some initial rustlings in a couple of the quality
newspapers. The album is strongly recommended as an entrée to the
Stackridge legacy for the undecided as it signposts more than anything
the band's wonderful musicality.
Photo by David Randall
opening night of the tour the engaging duo Blackheart supported.
Chrissy and Richard have been treading the boards constantly in recent
years and are preparing the release of their third album. They assured
me that it will be a little more experimental than previously.
Blackheart are a quality act but I wonder whether their essentially
songs would be helped by a full band arrangement in the live situation, it would certainly
give them more impact. Hopefully, with the new album, they'll
reach out to a wider audience.
Walter not available for this tour and Mutter Slater otherwise engaged
it was left to James and Andy to carry the Stackridge torch.
proceeded to make the next hour or so their own showcasing several songs
from the excellent 'Victory..' and a generous helping of 'classics' some
of which appear on the latest 'Best Of' compilation.
absence of Mutter Slater – in the nicest way possible - gives the band a
new twist. The attention now is very much on Clare Lindlay who plays a
cracking violin but also multi-tasks on acoustic guitar and backing
vocals. I was surprised too at how much Andy Davis takes the lead vocals
and his guitar work - including some tasteful electric – was exemplary
tour James Warren has taken up the bass so, really, it was business as
usual but also business with new potential. Given that Stackridge have always
been a bit difficult to pigeon-hole, the latest album is perhaps their
most consistent and accessible. The current line-up did full justice to
the repertoire but in particular the new songs: we were treated to
glorious versions of 'Lost And Found' and 'Boots And Shoes' amongst
the other highlights tonight, of course, was 'Something About The
Beatles', a truly wonderful song that is both a tribute and a poignant
reminder of a past age and James Warren's "pension plan" 'Everybody's Got
To Learn Sometime' which featured a particularly appropriate violin solo
from Clare. And it was her violin that impressed again on the two
encores including 'Dora The Female Explorer'.
One of the
great things for me personally recently has been the discovery of such
great music in the Stackridge catalogue as I researched a two part
special for our radio channel. I was never a fan back in the day and the
latest album got me hooked. I am sure I won't be alone.
are a great band who, if there was any justice, should be more widely
known and more deeply engrained in the British rock psyche. Given the
eleventh hour loss of 'Crun' and the absence of 'Mutter', this tour
debut could be considered a triumph of faith over adversity but more
than anything – with the present line-up and the new dynamic (and those
new tunes) - wider
Randall presents 'Assume The Position' on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio,