I saw Stackridge a couple of times in the early Seventies and they were not only very entertaining in a knockabout fun kind of way,but they were also great musically.Much more talented than they're usually given credit for.Nowadays they tend to get lumped in with what is fast becoming the all-encompassing category of prog-rock,but if they are it's at the Beatles end of the spectrum (if there is a Beatles end) rather than say Yes or Gryphon.This album's full of good songs and like a lot of their stuff is very influenced by the aforementioned Fab Four.They reformed again (again) and are still touring in 2014,which is a good thing as I'm a strong believer that there should always be room for humour in music.
Stackridge, the group you can't put into a category, they write some interesting stuff and are all accomplished musicians. I loved their first album, "Extravaganza" and the follow up is just as good, better still they are still writing stuff 40 years later!
The band themselves may have been disappointed with the sound quality of this album but then it proves that Stackridge have high standards as I can hear nothing wrong here at all. In fact, the tracks sound particularly crisp and fresh on this CD and showcase the band's mixture of styles wonderfully well.
The inclusion of bonus tracks, including the brilliant "Purple Spaceships Over Yatton", make for a superb Beatle-eqsue, folky, zany gathering of musical sounds and is in keeping with all of this wonderful band's output.
A slightly lighter offering than their debut, but still good value with a mix of songs old and new (a lot of the material on the first album was not from their live set). By now Crun had returned to the fold which allowed James to return to his acoustic guitar duties, plus Andy was able to double up more on keyboards. Why lighter did I hear you say with the band back to it's full compliment, well that is maybe answered best by an overspend on the first album which led to the band producing this one themselves. To me this album sounds more serious than it's predecessor but as with all Stackridge albums the humour is there if you listen carefully.
Not many bands would open an album (or live set) with an instrumental, but true to their record (pun not intended) of being different 'Lummy days' opened both, a bouncy feel good tune that sets the mood nicely.
'Friendliness part 1' is the first of two versions of the title track, a gentle acoustic ballad featuring some nice harmonies.
'Anyone for tennis' is Stackridge's tribute to music from a by gone age, who else would do a 'Palm court orchestra' piece while others around them were rocking the rafters.
'There is no refuge' is another of James warren's ballads, again with slowly sung words, that at a pinch could come under the nursery rhyme catagory, it closes with some nice violin work.
'Syracuse the elephant' opens with Andy playing what sounds like a moog, a melancholy song about an elephant, born and raised in captivity whose only ambition in life is to be free. A true Stackridge classic which moves through various musical phases, proving that while they are often remembered for their humorous lyrics, these lads could play a bit as well.
'Amazingly Agnes' is apparently about a cow, and due to my intense dislike of reggae, my least liked song on the album, but for a band as eclectic as Stackridge, I suppose they were bound to cover some unwanted territory at some time or another.
'Father Frankenstein is behind your pillow' is another song with a bygone days feel to it, a jazzy ballad that would not have been out of place in the 1920/30s jazz clubs
'Keep on clucking' is the albums rocker, about life in a chicken factory, with a trip to the supermarket to look forward to (not to shop). Not to be taken too seriously.
'Story of my heart' A mutter instrumental which crawls along at a gentle pace using piano and bells.
'Friendliness part 2' is a slightly darker sounding version of part 1.
'Teatime' may have opened the first ever GLASTONBURY festival, but here it closes the original album. Starting as a gentle acoustic ballad with harmonised vocals supported by some fine violin playing before mutter's flute comes to the fore signaling a tremendous finale of flute/violin interplay interspersed with delicate guitarwork, truly a classic!!!!!!
The four bonus tracks on this album do not disappoint, 'Everyman' is simple yet awesome, it starts off as though its a guitar tuning exercise, moving to that nursery rhyme type of vocal, before finishing with a melodic vocal aah over a building up of the instruments. This is followed by 'Purple spaceships over Yatton' an instrumental which proves beyond any doubt, the writing and playing ability of the band. 'C'est la vie' is a gentle acoustic ballad, while 'Do the stanley' is Mutters answer to Roxy Music's dance song 'The strand'
Listen and enjoy, if it doesn't get you first time, play it again it will grow on you.
This was the band's second album, a significant improvement on their first which unaccountably left out some of the best songs from the live act. Those appeared on Friendliness, and it is a good place to start if you are interested in the group. It was made on a tight budget: you would not notice perhaps, except for the demo-quality instrumental, Story Of My Heart which would have benefited from a fuller arrangement. Personal favourites are Lummy Days, Keep On Clucking, Syracuse and Anyone For Tennis, but it's all good. Serious music with literate, humerous lyrics. The flute/violin as lead instruments create a distinctive sound.