Stackridge - Selftitled (1st Album UK 1971)

Senin, 29 Oktober 2012

Size: 110 MB
Bitrate: 256
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

Often billed as the West Country Beatles, this Bristol sextet started out of the local folk scene from there and developed quickly a strange presence on stage with the group using rhubarb leaves and dustbin lids as stage props and their strange cartoon-like characters described in their songs, a bit reminiscent of Gong's Planet Gong. The debut album (recorded only as a quintet) is full of those very bizarre heroes, but let's some real space for instrumental interplay often mixing their folk rock with symphonic instrumentation. By the second album, the again-sextet was building a healthy following in the club and university circuit. 

Their fixation with the Beatles pushed them to require Sir George Martin's services for their third album Bowler Hat, but although the group gained a better visibility, it was at the expense of the humour and group soul. This will cause such a rift in the band that even before the album got a release, only two members were left in the band. Having to rebuild the group, they got transferred to Elton John's private label Rocket Records (still distributed by MCA) and in came Rod Bowkett (who will write most tunes on the new album) and Audience's Keith Gemmel, which will change the sound of the band since they now have two wind players. The ensuing album Extravaganza returns to the madness of their first two albums with the second side simply mind-blowing. The group will again disintegrate and will reform with original bassist Crun Walter back in the fold and Dave Lawson (ex-Web/Samurai and then-Greenslade) as a guest. Their album will a full-blown concept album describing Mr Mick's daily life and dreams. 

Stackridge's debut album is one of those weird and unclassifiable oeuvre that defies easy categorization. Although the group enjoyed some chart success back in their prime days, they are largely forgotten nowadays even though they have reformed in the previous decade and are still active now. This first album came in a charming gatefold depicting a flock of seagulls, some of them showing some skyscapes on their body. The inside gatefold was quite frustrating because the lyrics and track listing are barely readable because of the choice of colours. Recorded in the spring of 71 and released that same year on the MCA label (home of The Who, Wishbone Ash and Elton John), the music on the album ranges from folk rock to Beatles-like pop to symphonic rock to almost country rock (which was still in the nascent days back then) and a quintessential feeling of Britishness. But overall, the folk roots are predominant even if it is hard to call this a full-blown folk prog album.
The least we can say is that Stackridge's debut is an original affair, provoking a flurry of mood from the charming to the irritating, but the very classical arrangements over the album is mostly due to Mike Evans' violin, Mutter Slater's flutes but also three cellos and three oboes sprinkled throughout the album. This album is a concept album bringing a bunch of comic character together in a loose bunch of adventures all sung by Davis or Warren with Mutter helping out on choruses.

From the late-Beatles-influenced opening track Grande Piano to full folky jig of Dora The Female Explorer (their first single) and the almost full symphonic twists of the instrumental Essence Of Porphyry (the highlight of the first side), the soundscapes are vast and wide-ranging. The Simon & Garfunkel-like folk (with a very classical music instrumentation, violins, flute and cellos) first section of Percy The Penguin (who has cucumber wings) gets transformed into a surprising brassy rock, crossover from Lennon (circa Let it Be) and Chicago Transit Authority on The Three-Legged Table.

The second side starts off with a countrier version of The Beatles in Marigold Conjunction and its successor 32 West Mall. Marzo Plod (the "strangest man alive") is another Beatles-laced track. The real highlight of the album is the amazing 14-min Slark with its extended instrumental second section and it is quite a tour de force. Weirdly enough, the groups saved their best tracks to end each side of the vinyl.

One of the tougher things to cope with on this album is the lack of real focus (or too wide a musical scope/spectrum), but this will become a sort of trademark throughout their discography. Definitely one of their best album, and still much worthy a spin, this album should be discovered in second or third after the more seminal Friendliness and tied with the Extavangaza album. []

01. Grande Piano (3:23)
02. Percy the Penguin (3:42)
03. Three Legged Table (6:49)
04. Dora the Female Explorer (3:48)
05. Essence of Porphyry (8:05) 
06. Marigold Conjunction (5:00) 
07. West Mall (2:27)
08. Marzo Plod (3:07)
09. Slark (14:08)

1. Link
2. Link

0 komentar:

Posting Komentar