Purple Spaceships Over Yatton: Best of Stackridge

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Stackridge have a long and rather convoluted history, although it began simply enough in 1969, when James Warren joined forces with Andy Davis and Crun Walter. Swiftly expanding to a sextet, the band released their eponymous debut album in 1971. "Dora the Female Explorer" is drawn from that set, with "Syracuse the Elephant" and "Friendliness" taken from their follow-up, titled after that latter number. Although there are enjoyable moments on both albums, these records both proved to be merely warm-ups for the far more impressive Man in the Bowler Hat, their 1973 set produced by George Martin. Not surprisingly Purple Spaceships Over Yatton: Best of Stackridge includes six tracks from that fantastic album, which was deeply indebted to the Fab Four. Warren and vocalist/flutist Mutter Slater departed the following year, and it was a "new look" Stackridge that recorded 1975's Extravaganza. The more experimental concept album Mr. Mick brought the curtain down for good, at least until the band re-formed in the '90s, and began releasing new records. The booklet provides more details, and lyric sheets. Amazingly, this is Stackridge's first best-of set, fifteen songs strong, and although they're not in chronological order, nor do the sleeve notes make clear just when they were all recorded, it's doubtful that fans will mind. Incidentally, the title track is not the original version that was featured on their debut album, but a more recent re-recording. In reality, this compilation is just a taster for what Angel Air has to offer: reissues of all the band's original albums. And that too is something to celebrate.

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