Stackridge – Preserved – Best Of-Volume Two

January 01, 1970

(Angel Air)

A note to the uninitiated: From the early to mid ‘70s,
Stackridge reigned as one of the most innovative and imaginative bands operating
out of the British Isles. Yet although they often shared stages with superstars
like Elton John, the Beach Boys and the Eagles, they never broke through that
undefined barrier that separates stardom from oblivion. After a string of
exemplary early albums (their eponymous debut, Extravaganza and Friendliness,
chief among them), the band retired, only to reform again in 2007. In a way,
their failure to achieve a larger audience was no one’s fault but their own;
too clever and quirky for their own good — and inspired by both the Beatles
and Frank Zappa — they aspired to punchy little pop songs enhanced by artful
extravagance. Americans thought them too British, the Brits thought them too
eccentric, resulting in nothing more than a cult following, while their brief
tenure on the U.K. charts assured them only novelty status at best.


As a result, any album that declares itself a “best-of” –
one that’s tagged as Volume Two no
less – makes that claim in only a subjective sense. Those tempted to check out
their wares would ultimately be better off acquiring Purple Spaceships Over Yatton which boasts the majority of their
front-line favorites. However, being that the average American likely knows
little difference anyway, and the fact that a title like  Purple
Spaceships Over Yatton
may scare the timid away, Preserved is as good a place to start as any. Granted, the
completist will find little need for it, being that it boasts no rarities or
outtakes. What’s more, the fine British label Angel Air has made all their
albums, old and new, readily available for anyone interested.


Nevertheless, those looking for a superior sample of
Stackridge’s wares will certainly find it here. Courtly and precious in equal
measure, songs such as “32 West Mall” and “C’est La Vie” bring to mind the
Beatles’ dancehall fascinations, particularly as applied to “Yellow Submarine,”
“Lovely Rita,” “Eleanor Rigby ” and “When I’m ’64.” The band also had a way
with mixing up the instrumentals, so when the flutes are all a-flutter in
“Teatime” or the frenetic brass of “Who’s That Up There With Bill Stokes”
begins to resemble an early Chicago instrumental, it only goes to affirm their
ingenuity and imagination. Happily too, there’s no shortage of sing-alongs, and
their penchant for lilt and sway assures an unfailingly amiable attitude. If
some find this collision of concept and creativity a bit overwhelming, others
may appreciate their precocious wit and charms that are generally no more than
a nod and a wink away.


DOWNLOAD: “Teatime,” “32 West Mall,” “C’est La View” LEE ZIMMERMAN


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