Stavely Makepeace's modus operandi was similar to that of their more famous alter ego act, Lieutenant Pigeon: quirky, slightly lo-fi homemade production married to simple pop songs with heavy echoes of both '50s rock & roll and British novelty music. If you're looking for a way to tell this act apart from Lieutenant Pigeon, Stavely Makepeace is a far more vocal-oriented project, and less eccentric (though not enormously so). This compilation gathers 22 of their recordings from 1969-1983, none of them hits, though they seemed pretty obviously geared toward the pop charts. Problem was, main Stavely Makepeace brains Rob Woodward and Nigel Fletcher were just a little too strange for their own good, filling their tunes with anachronistic echo and quaint piano, horn, and fiddle lines. This, in turn, acted as a cover for the relative mediocrity of the fairy basic, formulaic pop/rock songs that were the heart of the material. The idiosyncratic production is certainly more interesting than the tunes, and while you might have said that of many of the records by their 1960s counterpart-of-sorts Joe Meek as well, the tracks here don't compare to the off-the-wall brilliance of Meek's best work. If it's something you want to investigate or relive, however, this CD anthology does their legacy justice, the wide-ranging survey of their output complemented by lengthy liner notes with numerous memories from Woodward and Fletcher themselves.
The Scrap Iron Rhythm Revue Review
by Richie Unterberger