Album: Stackridge, A Victory for Common Sense (Helium)

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The Independent Culture

Stackridge's brand of folk-prog-rock proved a little too parochial and well-mannered to follow in the footsteps of Jethro Tull and Yes back in the 1970s, though they can claim the distinction of being the very first band to play Glastonbury.

The reformed group's new album finds their strengths and weaknesses in full supply, notably their air of whimsical Englishness. Several tracks reflect a wistful sense of lost heritage comparable to The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. In the jaunty "The Old Country", a retired expat couple, finding life Down Under less blissful than expected, hanker after a return to Blighty, while the poignant tone of the pastoral elegy "(Waiting for You and) England to Return" hardens into the darker, more militant mood of "Red Squirrel", with its refusal to "bow to the grey machine". Oddly, the album sounds more Eighties than Seventies, though opening proceedings with a version of "Boots and Shoes" by the band's Eighties offshoot, the Korgis, does set the tone accordingly. The album's later stages, however, mark the return of the kind of unfocused meanderings that rendered prog-rock old and in the way the first time round, most notably in the 11-minute "The Day the World Stopped Turning", an event surely deserving rather more drama than is involved here.

Download this: 'Red Squirrel', 'Boots and Shoes', 'The Old Country', 'Long Dark River'