Stackridge Live 1972 – 1976
Stackridge toured endlessly in the early to mid 70s. I must have seen them at least half a dozen times including performances at the Reading Festival in 1972 and 1973, at the Elton John and Beach Boys show at Wembley Stadium, supporting Lindisfarne at Newcastle City Hall, and headlining at Sunderland Polytechnic Wearmouth Hall. I am sure there will have been other occasions which have slipped my mind. For me it was the original Stackridge line-up which was in place up until 1973, which was the classic band. This was the band which was fronted by Mutter Slater, recorded the album “The Man in the Bowler Hat” (Mutter would always wear a bowler hat on stage), and had great songs which married intricate prog, Beatle-ish tunes, with fascinating storytelling, great hooks, and some west country humour thrown in for good measure. The song “Slark”, from their first album was the highlight of the set. “Slark” tells a somewhat dark, yet poignant story of a (friendly, I think) monster and was an eccentric lengthy prog/folk epic, during which Mutter captivated us all, and lead us in the sing-a-long chorus. I would look forward to seeing them play “Slark” and would go home disappointed if the song wasn’t aired. But there were other classics songs: “Dora the Female Explorer”, “Let there be Lids” (the band would all bang dustbin lids, while we clapped along with them), “Do the Stanley” (the “Stanley” was Stackridge’s very own dance, which the band invented, and encouraged us all to join in with on several drunkens ocassions), and other great Stackridge stories including “Amazingly Agnes”, “Purple Spaceships Over Yatton” and “The Road To Venezuela”.
Stackridge always seemed to be on the verge of bigger success, but it then somehow seemed to allude them. Perhaps the ever-changing line-up didn’t help. At one point, Mutter and a couple of other members left the band, and a new Stackridge went out on tour with a very different line-up to promote their third album “The Man in the Bowler Hat” (and of course the man who actually wore the bowler hat wasn’t there!). The album was produced by George Martin and should have ensured great success. Mutter and the others did return to the fold, and the band were signed to Elton John’s Rocket label. However by 1976 it was all over, and Stackridge split, leaving fanatical followers up and down the country and a bunch of great memories and excellent songs. For me, Stackridge were an important, yet often forgotten, part of the early 70s music scene.
Stackridge reformed ten years or so ago, and are touring again.
“Careering along in my creosote car
From Kebeeble to Kenn I didn’t get very far
The sky turned black and a dark cloud grew
The monster Slark came in to view
I pleaded with Slark to pass me by
“I’ve done nothing wrong, I don’t want to die”
He scooped me up in his huge grey claws
And bore me away without any cause”
(Slark, Stackridge, 1971)
This is absolutely the last (at least for now) of my blog entries on acts beginning with the letter “S”. I will definitely move onto the letter “T” tomorrow 🙂
Archive for the ‘Stackridge’ Category
Stackridge Live 1972 – 1976
The Reading Festival 1972
I first went to the Reading Festival in 1972 (is it really over 41 years ago 🙂 ?), and continued to go every year until 1980. I missed 1981 as it clashed with a local “Rock on the Tyne” Festival, and have never returned, although I did think of doing so on several occasions. I’m aiming to reflect on one year each week for the next few weeks, starting today with my first Reading experience.
I’d already been to the Lincoln Festival in May 1972 so I felt, as a 15 year old, I was already a hardened festival goer. I didn’t know anyone who wanted to go to Reading, so decided to go along myself. My parents weren’t keen on my idea of hitching so I agreed to go by train. The festival took place over the weekend of August 11th to 13th, 1972 starting on Friday afternoon. For some reason I decided to get the train down to London early on the Thursday night, arriving around midnight. Having nowhere to spend the night I took a tube to Piccadilly Circus and found an all-night cinema. It was showing Elvis films all night; I paid my money and sat close to the front. The cinema was quite empty, the audience was a few couples, some Elvis fans and several people alone like me, and just looking for somewhere to spend the night. I don’t recall which films were shown, I think there were six, and I’m pretty sure one was “Kid Galahad” (which, by the way, is a good movie), and I think another may have been “Fun in Acapulco” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” (not so good). I emerged, very tired, from the cinema in the early hours of the morning, and went across London to get the train to Reading. I didn’t have a ticket for the festival, so when I arrived I joined the queue and bought a weekend ticket. In those days it was all about seeing the bands, so I stayed in the queue to get a good spot in front of the stage. All I had taken was a sleeping bag; no tent; no change of clothes (I told you that I thought myself a hardened festival goer).
The Friday line-up was: Good Habit, Nazareth, Cottonwood, Steamhammer, Jackson Heights, Genesis, Mungo Jerry, Curved Air. The music started at 4pm and there were two stages set alongside each other to make for quick changeovers. I positioned myself close to the front somewhere between the two stages so I had a good view of both. There was a press enclosure right down front, and an area where the Hells Angels would encamp, so you couldn’t get that close to the stage. I got talking to a guy next to me; he was also alone, still at school and a similar age. We stuck together throughout the weekend, keeping each others place in the crowd, and sleeping there on a night in our sleeping bags. This seems crazy now, but hey I was young and just so excited about seeing the bands. You could sleep in the main enclosure in those days; you had to leave in the early morning so that they could clear up and get ready for the next day. Some clearing happened during the night; this didn’t make for a good night sleep as there was a danger that someone stood on you (this happened to me several times). The organisers stopped letting people sleep in the main enclosure a few years later; a punter was run over by a vehicle that was driving around collecting litter….The bands I recall on Friday were: Good Habit (saw them a few times, they used to were monks habits on stage), Nazareth (this was before “Broken Down Angel”; they played a great version of “Morning Dew”); Genesis (Simply amazing. I was a big fan at the time and have written separately about their set which included The Knife, Twilight Alehouse, Watcher Of The Skies, The Musical box, and The Return Of The Giant Hogweed. Classic); Mungo Jerry (got the crowd rocking), and Curved Air (also amazing; It happened today, Backstreet Luv, Sonja Kristina).
The Saturday line-up was: Jonathan Kelly, Solid Gold Cadillac, Man, Linda Lewis, Focus, Edgar Broughton, Jericho, If, Johnny Otis Show, Electric Light Orchestra, The Faces. I watched all of the bands, and also took some time to have a look around the stalls in the arena. I didn’t see any need to venture into town (that would come in later years) and spent the entire weekend within the confines of the festival. The weather was quite warm, sunny with a little drizzle now and then but nothing major, and certainly nothing compared to the rain I experienced at the Lincoln festival earlier in the year. Highlights I can dimly recall now are: Jonathan Kelly (Ballad of Cursed Anna simply wonderful), Solid Gold Cadillac (very jazzy), Man (very long guitar solos; Spunk Rock; great!), Linda Lewis (she looked so tiny on that stage and admitted to being scared), Focus (went down well with the crowd and were one of the successes of the weekend), Edgar Broughton (amazing, I was already a fan. Edgar very unspoken as always. Out Demons Out!!), If (jazzy, great guitarist), Johnny Otis Show (just blogged on them), Electric Light Orchestra (this was a very early performance and one of their first since Roy Wood’s departure. Wasn’t sure what to expect; they were good), The Faces (Rod and the guys on great form, lots of footballs kicked into the crowd, Twisting the Night Away and I’m Losing You were big live favourites of mine at the time).
The Sunday line-up was: Sutherland Brothers, Gillian McPherson, String Driven Thing, Matching Mole, Stackridge, Vinegar Joe, Status Quo, Stray, Roy Wood’s Wizzard, Mahatma Kane Jeeves, Ten Years After, Quintessence. John Peel and Jerry Floyd were comperes for the weekend. Jerry was the regular DJ at the Marquee Club, who organised the festival at the time. I spend much of the weekend chatting about music to the guy that I met on the first day and we struck up quite a friendship. I made a few friend at festivals in those days and would see some people every year but I never ran into this guy again. Wonder where he is now. Highlights of the day were: Matching Mole (featuring Robert Wyatt), Stackridge (“Slark” was a favourite of mine at the time), Vinegar Joe (Elkie just stunning), Status Quo (this was one of the shows that helped them break back. Peel was a big champion of theirs at the time; I think he introduced them as the “Finest rock’n’roll band in the world”, or something like that. They were playing amazing boogie at the time, with Francis giving it some cheeky banter. Someones Learning was a favourite), Stray (excellent, Del in mirror suit), Roy Wood’s Wizzard (pretty good, very retro rock’n’roll. Ballpark Incident had just been released), and Ten Years After (Alvin’s guitar playing was stunning, I’d just seen “Woodstock” and was a big fan). I left as Quintessence’s took to the stage as did many others (TYA were official headliners) to catch the last train to London. The tubes had stopped so I walked across London. I’d missed the midnight train so I spent the night in Kings Cross station.
Monday morning: I was stiff, tired, and scruffy. I got the first train home and went straight to bed 🙂
Wow! that took longer than I thought it would! The scans come from the newspaper style programme which was produced by the Reading Evening Post. The poster (it looks like a cartoon of Leo Lyons from TYA to me?) is from the middle of the programme. Oh and I forgot to mention the “Wally!” chants, which seemed to go on all night.
Elton John, Beach Boys, Eagles Wembley Stadium June 1975 Line-up (pretty great actually): Elton John, The Beach Boys, Eagles, Joe Walsh, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Stackridge, DJ and compere Johnnie Walker. This was a big gig for Elton John. He had just changed his band, with only Davey Johnstone remained from the previous line-up, and was about to release a new album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. I went down to London with a couple of mates and we stayed at a friend’s flat in Acton. We spent a couple of days in the capital before the concert and went to see Ducks Deluxe at the Marquee club, which was pretty good fun, except one of our party took ill and we spent half the night in hospital. The Wembley concert had an amazing line-up with Stackridge opening the day, Mutter Slater on his usual top form. Next up were Rufus who featured Chaka Khan, and delivered some funky soul rhythms. The rest of the bill featured Joe Walsh (Rocky Mountain Way was a big crowd favourite) and then the Eagles who performed all their hits and were joined by Jackson Brown on piano for Take it Easy. But the day belonged to one band: the Beach Boys who transformed the London stadium into sunny California and had us singing along to endless hit after hit. They went down a storm and Elton had a lot to live up to. This was one day when Elton made the wrong call. He decided to devote the majority of the set to playing the new Captain Fantastic album in its entirety. Now remember the album had only just been released and most of the crowd won’t have known any of the track. This didn’t go down well with the crowd, who were up for a greatest hit set, particularly after the Fun Fun Fun of the Beach Boys. People started to leave the stadium in their droves, including us. We made our way back to Acton where a couple of the flatmates were having a domestic. We decided to avoid that and set off on our 250 mile drive home, getting back in the early hours of the next morning. Setlist: Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding; Rocket Man; Candle in the Wind; The Bitch Is Back; Dixie Lily; Philadelphia Freedom; Chameleon; Bennie and the Jets; Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds; I Saw Her Standing There; Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy; Tower of Babel; Bitter Fingers; Tell Me When the Whistle Blows; Someone Saved My Life Tonight; (Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket; Better Off Dead; Writing; We All Fall in Love Sometimes; Curtains; Pinball Wizard; Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting