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Stackridge - 2009 A Victory For Common Sense

ARTIST: Stackridge
ALBUM: A Victory For Common Sense
LABEL: Helium Records
YEAR: 2009


LINEUP: Andy Davis - guitars, keyboards, vocals * James Warren- guitars, bass, vocals * 'Mutter' Slater - flute, acoustic guitar * Jim 'Crun' Walter - bass, acoustic guitar * Glenn Tommey - keyboards, trombone, backing vocals * Rachel Hall - violin * Sarah Mitchell - violin, backing vocals * Eddie John, Andy 'Codge' Marsden - drums * Mark Frith - programming * Chris Hughes - percussion * Davide Rossi - string arrangements

TRACK LISTING: 01 Boots And Shoes * 02 The Old Country * 03 (Waiting For You And) England To Return * 04 Red Squirrel * 05 North St Grande * 06 Long Dark River * 07 Lost And Found * 08 Cheese And Ham * 09 The Day The World Stopped Turning



When this CD arrived in the post my day was brightened to no end. That was three weeks ago and I've yet to grow tired of 'A Victory For Common Sense' which I have played at least once a day since. Now before I go any further I might as well lay my cards on the table. I am a huge Stackridge follower, a 'fanboy' if you will, and as it stands unless some unforeseen god-like musical opus lands on my doorstep anytime soon, 'A Victory For Common Sense' will be on the top of my 'best of the year' list. So with that out of the way, let me tell you a little bit about this wonderful band. Occasionally tagged as 'folk rock' or the West Country's answer to the Bonzo Dog Band, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact like E.L.O, Stackridge carried the late-60's Beatles torch throughout the 1970's and their best album 1974's 'The Man In The Bowler Hat' was produced by none other than the master Sir George Martin. A bit of a dust-up with Elton John's Rocket Records lead to their demise in 1976 with Andy Davis and James Warren forming The Korgis and unleashing three fantastic new wave/pop albums before calling it a day. Fast forward to 1999 and Stackridge return with the brilliant CD 'Something For The Weekend' which included the utterly charming 'Something About The Beatles', one of the greatest tributes to the Fab Four you're likely to hear. You see, Stackridge never hid behind their Beatles influence, instead wearing it like a badge of honor and while they developed their own sound and style 'Abbey Road' always loomed large on the Stackridge landscape.

The Songs
From the opener 'Boots And Shoes' it's wonderfully evident Stackridge have lost none of the magic of their early days. Quirky, delightful, uniquely English and always 'Beatley' Stackridge deliver the goods with nine tracks filled to the brim with delicious hooks and warm feelings. '(Waiting For You And) England To Return' is simply beautiful in its nostalgia while the vaudevillian 'North St. Grande' is nothing short of charming. 'Long Dark River' and the brilliant pop of 'Lost And Found' are easily two of the album's best tracks reminding me very much of Klaatu on the latter and worth the price of the disc alone. Fortunately the best really is saved for last with 'The Day The World Stopped Turning' which initially opens with a very Supertramp-like electric piano and gradually builds into eleven minutes of some of the best progressive pop I've heard in ages. An absolute stunner.

In Summary
This is intelligent pop music at its very best and few do it better than Stackridge. You could without much effort ignore my drooling over the band and never ending infatuation with all things Beatles influenced but you'd be missing out on some truly amazing music. Without a doubt, the most impressive pop album this year.

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