||The Missing Jewel in the Crown That Is British Pop Music
In 1969 a disparate band of young musicians found common ground in the Bristol/Bath musical stew and gathered together in a group called "Stackridge Lemon". With a constant flow of changing line-ups, finally by late 1970 "Stackridge" (having dropped the "Lemon") were Andy Davis/James Warren/"Mutter"Slater/"Crun"Walters/Mike Evans/and Billy Sparkle. Already their somewhat eccentric mix of witty, often poignant lyrics, memorable melodies, extended instrumental passages and self effacing stage presentation was catching the attention of the Music Press and the live gig circuit.
It was this line-up that constantly toured the U.K. for the next three years, slowly building a fanatic following and releasing 3 Albums on M.C.A Records-the eponymous "Stackridge", followed by "Friendliness" and then in 1974 the George Martin produced "The Man in the Bowler Hat". With this triumphant masterpiece, regarded by many to be George Martin's finest creation outside of his Beatles canon, the band seemed to be poised to make the final breakthrough to the upper echelons of stardom already attained by less talented contemporaries like Genesis and Supertramp.
Alas it was not to be. Cracks began to appear in their once tight knit family, and the original Stackridge imploded. A succession of line-up changes served to confuse both the public and music critics alike, and although in many ways the new intake of musicians were technically superior to their predecessors and presented sleeker, more professional concerts, the band lacked the charisma and charm of the original band.
Mishandled and misunderstood by their new Record Label (Elton John's "Rocket" Records) and misdirected by a new Management Team, the band did record two more critically acclaimed albums, "Extravaganza" and "Mr. Mick" before finally splitting up in 1976.
Going their separate ways, the individuals continued to make music during the 1980's and 90's, James and Andy gaining noticeable success as Electro-Pop Balladeers The Korgis with two Hit Singles including the Warren penned "Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime". "Mutter" Slater pursued his love of gutsy, soul based Rock'n'Roll with various bands in his native Dorset, and Mike Evans's prodigious musical talent saw him add his violin to everything from classical to folk music. "Crun" Walters bass guitar could be heard enhancing various Jazz and Soul Bands.
Press "Play" (again);
It was Evans who delighted the still devoted followers of the band when he persuaded James and "Crun" to form a revamped version of Stackridge in the late 90's. With a group of fine musicians behind them these three performed a series of gigs, which not only included classic songs from the large back catalogue, but featured much new material from the fertile pen of Warren. With the first new album in over 23 years (1999's "Something for the Weekend") and appearances at the Glastonbury, Cropredy and Trowbridge Festivals Stackridge entered the new millennium in fine fettle. Via the Internet those aficionados, who had never given up on the band found they were not alone as various fan based chat groups and websites testified to their lasting appeal. Sadly Management problems caused this unit to grind to a halt and once again the Stackridge story seemed to have reached an untimely end.
Press "Fast Forward" (to 2007):
Encouraged by the response at a series of gigs he performs as "James Warren and Friends" , a line up which includes stalwart bass guitarist "Crun" Walters and keyboard player Glenn Tommey, drummer Andy Marsden ( both one time Korgis backing musicians) and violinist/vocalist Sarah Mitchell, James rekindles the idea of another Stackridge reunion. This time however he is successful in persuading Andy Davis and "Mutter" Slater to be fully involved and at long last the original front-line from 1970 embark on a series of club and concert appearances during 2007. The new line up includes the prodigious talents of Clare Lindley on Violin as well as Glenn Tommey, Andy Marsden and Sarah Mitchell. With the entire back catalogue of albums re-released on Angel-Air Records, plus a "Best Of" Compilation and a live concert DVD, filmed in April 2007, and rave reviews in both the National and Local Press, the Stackridge band wagon gathers pace again.
The Spring & Summer of 2008 sees Stackridge performing at venues throughout the U.K. including triumphant returns to The Glastonbury Festival (which gains them headline status in the National Media such as The Guardian Newspaper and BBC TV News ) and a barnstorming appearance at The Cropredy Festival (many fans and critics stating they were the highlight of the weekend).
During the Autumn they return to the studios to complete a new album under the guiding hand of producer Chris Hughes, whose previous credits include Tears For Fears, Paul McCartney and Robert Plant. Titled "A Victory For Common Sense" this will be released on July 13th 2009 on the Helium Label.
With an expanding gig diary, supporters in the media, and an increasing fan base 2009 promises to be, at last .........the year of Stackridge.