Thursday, January 20, 2011

Soundtrack artist: Stackridge

The year was 1974, and in a music mag whose name escapes me, a writer declared a love for "melody groups"—and cited Stackridge's "Pinafore Days" as an exemplar. I soon found out how delightfully true that was.

Better known in its UK near-equivalent, "The Man in the Bowler Hat," it's a George Martin-produced masterpiece of whimsical pop. And it's one of several eccentric, eclectic, and endlessly ear-pleasing albums the band made in the 1970s.

In a wonderful surprise, Stackridge reunited after a two-decades-plus hiatus. Two songs from the band's new era are featured in the Inventory soundtrack, "Grooving Along on the Highway on a Monday Morning Once" and "It Must Be Time for Bed."

"Grooving" brims with oddball charm. Heck, it avalanches with oddball charm. Lyrically witty and weird, toe-tapping from the first note, and breaking out into a courtly waltz in the middle, it's completely irresistible, and it provides a wonderful quirky backdrop for an action montage that begins as furniture-truck driver Dave pulls off the highway.

True to its name, "It Must Be Time for Bed" starts in hushed tones. Suddenly, an otherworldly instrumental, spiced with siren-song vocalizations, transports us into a magical land, in a trip fit for Little Nemo. The instrumental motif signals one of the warehouse's back-room mysteries.

James Warren, co-writer of both songs, tells us of their creation:
"Grooving Along..." was a joint composition by myself, John Miller and Sarah Ménage.

John had busked some chords while I had improvised a tune. The jauntiness of the music dictated the style of the lyric, which rapidly became one of our favourite rather Pythonesque stream-of-consciousness affairs. I remember all three of us contributing lines, with John coming up with the immortal one about fathoming the depths of Wittgenstein, Hegel and Kant. It was great fun.

"It Must Be Time For Bed" was written by Sarah Ménage and myself. We were in 'dedicated songwriting' mode at the time, spending as much time as possible 7 days a week trying to come up with ideas. Once again the music evoked the lyric and once we'd hit on the theme I seem to remember the song sort of wrote itself. It's an unusual piece - a lot of time was spent on the extended, dream-like instrumental sections - but I think it all hangs together quite well.
Stackridge's longtime manager, Mike Tobin, provides info on the artists:
Both songs were recorded in 1999. They are now available on the CD/Album "Sex and Flags"on Angel Air Records. (SJP CD205) and for download @ I-Tunes /Amazon & other sites.

Stackridge continue to tour in the U.K. with the core members of James Warren, Andy Davis and Jim "Crun" Walter plus Eddie John, Clare Lindley and Glenn Tommey.

There is a strong likelihood they will perform in the USA in 2011.

Check for updates.

Sarah Ménage performs with her own trio regularly and recently released her own CD/Album "Who Needs A Man"


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