VIEWS

MUTTER’S LIFE IN MUSIC – THE NEXT PILE OF WAFFLE!.

Well, you’ve waited long enough, the time has come for you to suffer some more. As I was saying...................

I was short of money and even shorter on inspiration, so I wooed and cooed the Davis into letting me back into the fold. This of course did not follow the obvious course. We could have kept the same line up and merely added myself to the number, but that would have been too straight forward. You can’t let the opportunity of turning the whole thing on it’s head pass you by, so we didn’t! Out went Wirren and, eventually, off went Evans. In came Paul Karras and me. Paul inveigled Roy Morgan onto the side after numerous fruitless attempts at finding a half decent drummer. I don’t remember how many we tried before it dawned on Paul that it was for a drummer that we auditioned or perhaps he took perverse pleasure in seeing us seethe under the relentless flow of incompetent tub-men. " I know a good drummer", he casually mentioned witnessing the incipience of my alopecia. The rest of us gawped. " And he’s available ". The gawp continued. The line up that would eventually record ‘Extravaganza’ was so dragged into the world, not so much kicking and screaming as shuffling.

We rehearsed and we gigged and by some fluke or other we found someone gullible enough to pay for us to record an album – Elton Hercules John – for yes it is he. Quite what he saw in the Extravagant Stackridge is beyond me , but he liked us enough to finance the album, a tour or two and a new wardrobe of clothes designed and made by one of his costumiers, who thankfully had her wilder fantasies indulged by E.J.H himself. Extravaganza was recorded at Air London Studios above the melee of Oxford Circus, Tony Ashton ( god rest his soul ) was appointed to be the producer. The music industry, like all walks of life, has more than it’s fair share of characters, Tony had enough character to fill a hangar. He laughed, we laughed; he told jokes, we laughed; he showed us ‘ the last chicken in Sainsbury’s ‘, we were dumbstruck; he drank, we followed; he went into hospital to dry out, we got some recording done. So a cycle of destructive creativity was established. Quite how we got the album finished I can’t really say, it is all lost in foggy vapours of Heineken Pils and Bells whisky, I can however clearly recall, apparently, exactly what I was drinking. That is a sad indictment of my commitment to the venture.

We took Extravaganza on the road and bedded it in before we had what had heretofore been regarded as a complete waste of time and energy – the official launch. The record company, Rocket, had The Shaw Theatre booked for the event and all the great and good were invited, including the loyal Stackridge fan. When we arrived for a sound check we were delighted to see that the stage was exactly how it had been left from the evening before. Our equipment was rather inappropriately erected within the three walls of a stage sitting -room – excellent!. This very Stackridgian anachronism gave my feelings of doom and dread a very healthy boot into the Pit of Hell, from that moment on the evening became magical. We played as well as we ever had with any line-up and I had the audience by the soft fleshy parts; no matter what came into my head and issued from my gob, it was inevitably fresh and funny. Even Elton laughed in the right places – bless him!

The Extravaganza Tour musically and theatrically was a great success as far as far as I was concerned, despite the number of instrument changes within the set. Andy floating from keyboards to guitar and back again, whilst I scuttled from front of stage to behind the timpani and glockenspiel and thence to the blinkin’ mal o’tron – a very temperamental beast that took great offence at being manhandled by oafish roadies, like many a poor damsel that ventured into their remit. I cannot recall now exactly why or how this configuration came to be dismembered. For some reason finance comes to mind – both Paul and Roy ( bless him, for now he has departed this life) were on a very good screw and, as ever, we had failed to generate anywhere enough money to keep us going both on the road and in record sales. Anyway, for whatever reason, we disbanded yet again. I had returned to the fold though and had found that the old stage magic had not given me up as a bad job, but, as you will see if you look at the writing credits on Extravaganza, I had not written one single song. Not even a bar or two of a half decent tune. Something had to be done, but inspiration is not something that you can just pick up any old place – it’s much too slippery for that!