Stackridge

Friendliness

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The Angel Air label's resurrection of the Stackridge catalog reached a definite peak with the appearance of a bonus-stacked reissue of the group's sophomore LP and, as the liner notes point out, overwhelming evidence that the second album doesn't always need to be "difficult." Building firmly on the foundations of its predecessor, a manic hodgepodge of styles, notions and nuances, Friendliness Plus swings from the rambunctiously folk-flavored instrumental opener "Lummy Days" to such longtime live favorites as "Syracuse the Elephant" and "Teatime," and onto the gorgeous, Beatles-esque harmonics of the title track. Dropped into side two of Abbey Road, it would scarcely have raised an eyebrow. The plaintive fiddle-led lilt of "Anyone for Tennis" conjures the kind of Edwardian music hall frivolity that was always one of Stackridge's strongest points, while the wonderfully titled "Amazingly Agnes" comes close to calypso territory, twin poles of the versatility that was both Stackridge's strongest point, and their weakest. Like Kevin Ayers, perhaps the only other figure of the age who could be compared to Stackridge's delightful eccentricities, the band was simply too eclectic to grab the mainstream ear and keep it. The hard rocking boogie of "Keep on Clucking" proves that, and so does "Do the Stanley," a non-album single that highlights the reissue's four bonus tracks, and remains one of the most compulsive dance records ever made. Assuming you can dance to a foot-stomping brass band.

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