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The Man In The Bowler Hat is the third album by the British rock group Stackridge. The album was produced by George Martin at AIR Studios, London and released in the UK by MCA Records. This was their highest charting album, peaking at number 23 in the UK Albums Chart.
A different version of the album was released by Sire Records in the U.S. and Canada under the title Pinafore Days. The U.S album removed 2 songs and replaced them with 2 others (produced by Tony Ashton) from the UK version of the next Stackridge album Extravaganza. "Pinafore Days" was the only U.S. chart entry for Stackridge, reaching number 191 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
Stackridge are a British folk, pop and progressive rock group who were at the height of their success during the early 1970s. The band's output is characterized by quirky humour and rhythmic catchy sing-along tunes.
Stackridge mix clever lyrics and tuneful melodies with innovative arrangements. The group has claimed a wide range of influences including The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Frank Zappa, Syd Barrett, Robin Williamson, The Marx Brothers, Flanders and Swann, Bing Crosby, Tom Lehrer, Gilbert & Sullivan, Frederick Delius, J.S. Bach and Igor Stravinsky.
Stackridge Lemon was formed from the remains of Grytpype Thynne by Andy Davis and James "Crun" Walter during 1969 in the Bristol/Bath area of the UK. After initial experimentation the word Lemon was dropped from the band's name. The band played its first London gig at The Temple in Wardour Street on 6 February 1970. Stackridge were the opening and closing act at the first Glastonbury Festival between 19 September and 20 September 1970.
During 1971 Stackridge began serious gigging although Crun left to take up bricklaying. The group (Davis,Warren,Bent,Evans,Slater) embarked on a UK tour supporting Wishbone Ash. Later in the year they signed to MCA Records and recorded their first album Stackridge, at De Lane Lea Studios, London. They toured the UK as headliners with Renaissance supporting and played their first John Peel session for the BBC which included a version of The Beatles Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).
The group continued on a year of touring, again with Wishbone Ash and Forever More. The second album Friendliness was quickly recorded in August 1972 and released in November with some songs that had started life in pre-Stackridge days. By this time Crun had rejoined the band which consisted of Davis, Warren, Slater, Evans, Walter and Billy Sparkle.
In February 1973 the band made their first television appearance on BBC2's "The Old Grey Whistle Test". They then toured during February and March with Camel in support. The third album The Man In The Bowler Hat was recorded during 1973 at AIR Studios, London with producer George Martin. The album was released in February 1974 to excellent reviews, but failed to sell in large quantities. This was their highest charting album in the UK, reaching #23. A different version of the album was released in the U.S. under the title Pinafore Days and became their only U.S. chart entry, peaking at #191 although a US tour never materialised. Almost as soon as the album was finished Warren, Walter, Evans, Sparkle and Mutter Slater were replaced by Paul Karas (bass) from the band Rare Bird, Keith Gemmell from the band Audience and Roy Morgan (drums) as Andy Davis took control. The group that went on tour to support the album sounded quite different than the one on the record.
The fourth album Extravaganza on Elton John's Rocket Records label was recorded at AIR Studios with Tony Ashton producing and Rod Bowkett joining to contribute to the songwriting.The band now consisted of Davis,Bowkett, Gemmell,Slater (who had rejoined),Karas and Morgan. Non-Stackridge written songs and cover versions became more prevalent.The band seriously missed James Warren's input.With more touring and an appearance at Wembley Stadium concert with Elton John and The Beach Boys, 1975 saw the eventful recording of the band's fifth outing in the studio, the concept album Mr. Mick based on stories/poems by Steve Augard which was eventually recorded at Ramport Studios, Putney with the revised line-up of Davis, Slater, Walter, Gemmell plus the addition of Dave Lawson on keyboards (Greenslade) and Peter Van Hooke on drums.
On something of a downward slide by this time, the album Mr. Mick suffered at the hands of the record label Rocket Records due to editing and the insistence on a Beatles cover song 'Hold me tight'. The album did receive some good press but some shows were abandoned on the grounds that the stages were too small as the band seemed to be taking themselves too seriously.They performed a final show in April 1976 and shortly after the band disintegrated. MCA Records released the compilation Do The Stanley late in 1976 which contained songs from the first three albums along with singles and a previously unreleased song 'Let there be lids' taken from their live performances.
Stackridge officially announced in 1977 that they had disbanded; James Warren and Andy Cresswell-Davis formed The Korgis a few years later, and had some commercial success in the early 1980s.
Looking back at their recording career, clearly UK & US MCA Records had no idea how to promote this eccentric pop band. They simply issued records without much promotion. Their rather odd image didn't help them much, either. By the time they moved to UK Rocket and US Sire, they were on the decline.
Classic lineupthat is - Stackridge II (1971–1973)
* Andy Cresswell-Davis - guitar/keyboards/vocals
* James Warren - guitar/vocals
* Mike Evans - violin/vocals
* Mike "Mutter" Slater - flute/vocals
* Jim "Crun" Walter - bass
* Billy Bent aka Billy Sparkle - drums
03.The Last Plimsoul
04.To The Sun And The Moon (Slater - Denman)
05.The Road To Venezuela
06.The Galloping Gaucho
08.Dangerous Bacon (Warren - Smegmakovitch)
09.The Indifferent Hedgehog (Davis)
10.God Speed The Plough (Wabadaw Sleeve)