Stackridge - BBC Radio 1 - Live In Concert - 1975
Stackridge, one of the most singular rock bands to grow in soil sown and enriched by the British Invasion of the '60s, coalesced in late 1969. Andy Davis and Jim "Crun" Walter were playing together in the Bristol blues band Griptight Thynne when Davis began seeking new bandmates. Mike Tobin (who became Stackridge's first manager) introduced Davis to Mike "Mutter" Slater, then playing in the folk duo Mick & Mutter. James Warren answered a newspaper ad and connected very well with Davis, and they began writing songs together. Billy Bent showed up, listened to them developing "Dora the Female Explorer," and invited them to practice at his home studio, and they invited him to drum. Mike Evans was playing violin with traditional ballad groups in Bristol (the Westlanders and the Moonshiners). On Davis' 21st birthday, the band was celebrating at a pub when Mike Evans walked in. He was invited to join, as Davis knew him slightly and Walter agreed that a violin would fill out their sound. Meanwhile, Walter had proposed the latest absurd band name, Stackridge Lemon, which was quickly shortened to Stackridge.
The gigs were sparse at first, and Walter left. Tobin moved to London and began securing more plentiful bookings, while around Bristol, Stackridge began developing their eclectic, whimsical repertoire, with stated influences and preferences encompassing Zappa, the Beach Boys, Flanders & Swann, Syd Barrett, Igor Stravinsky, the Marx Brothers, J.S. Bach, and very significantly, the 1965-1966 Beatles. Their rummage sale stagewear, Slater's exuberant, witty patter (and his development of dustbin lids as a percussion instrument), Warren's wry, rambling story/introductions (contemporaneous with Peter Gabriel's development of same with Genesis), and the almost unique (in a rock group) inclusion of both a flutist and violinist led Stackridge to develop an enthusiastic, loyal following.
They signed to MCA, and with Fritz Fryer producing, they recorded Stackridge in the spring of 1971, sharing Martin Birch as engineer with Deep Purple. Warren wrote four songs alone and three with Davis, establishing him as the group's main lyrical voice. Stackridge was highlighted by the boisterous "Dora the Female Explorer," "Percy the Penguin" (the first of their laments for misunderstood animals), and a 12-plus-minute version of live favorite "Slark," a mythical beast that scoops the hapless narrator out of his car and flies him "beyond the fields we know." Walter was persuaded to rejoin on bass, allowing Warren to move to guitar permanently, while Davis continued to switch between guitar and keyboards.
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