The Where What and When of Mr Mick
Back in 1976, when the recording of the final offering of the 1970s incarnation of Stackridge - 'Mr Mick' - was nearing completion, Mr Crun Walter took a casette recording from the desk at Ramport Studios in order to learn the new songs, ready for later live performance. Luckily for us all, he kept the tape. Just before Christmas 1999, I sat down to listen to a copy of that tape and a forgotten and misunderstood gem unfolded before me. The Original 'Mr Mick' is not a pop LP. The album was conceived as one piece of music and should be listened to as such. It includes three excellent Stackridge songs along with a story - a modern fairy-tale - told in music, song and verse which encapsulates the atmosphere of the England of the1960s that the lads from Stackridge and I, myself grew up in. I decided then and there that the unexpurgated Mr Mick should be the next release from Dap Records.
Well, I was off to Malta just after Christmas, so 'Mr Mick' had to come with me, if it was to be sorted for Summer release. I set up my office on the beach for the duration. Where better, I thought!
|First, I needed the words. Easy - all you need is a portable tape-recorder, some paper, a pencil and some careful listening ..... Songs, music, verse dialogue issued forth ..... A fascinating melange began to materialise. I decided to lay it out as a radio play. It seemed to make more sense that way. After all, back in the '50s and '60s, we all listened to the radio much more than we watched telly. Telly was pretty new, then. What a thought!|
Here's the view from my office in Malta. It certainly added a new
That wonderful sea. By the next morning I was in it, playing at being a fish. But that's another story.
|Bits of songs played over and over again
..... What's going on ? I soon had a curious audience. That, of course is how
I got the photo of myself in my office...
I did a deal. If you take my picture, I'll take yours. So here they are. My curious friends from the beach in Malta.
Well, well, I recognise THIS activity. In honour of all the tiddlers, stickle-backs, frogs, newts, shrimps, and crabs I caught when I was that size, I HAD to take this picture of my new friends and include it. But I digress....
|Back in England, then, armed with a script, the next step was to get in touch with THIS chap. Oh, yes, the man himself - none other than Mr Mick (MUTTER) Slater. So, having sent Mutter a copy of the script and the tape, it was off to The Portman Arms in East Chinnock for a chat. Mutter was quite touched that we should wish to unearth the original version of Mr Mick. Such was the disappointment at the treatment the band received from Rocket Records at the time, he had dismissed the whole sad matter from his mind and admitted that he found it hard to dredge up again. However, he was happy to listen to the tape and check the words and he liked the radio play idea. We agreed to meet again the next week.|
|The next week Steve Augarde was on board, too, and an interesting discussion
ensued at the Portman Arms. The DJ you will hear right at the beginning is Alan
Freeman himself. He was employed to record the specific words heard on the recording....
The idea for 'Coniston Water' came from Mutter trying to capture the atmosphere of
one of the band's favourite haunts near Congleton in Derbyshire. Andy wanted the
connection with Coniston Water because of Donald Campbell and the speed boat Bluebird,
which disintegrated on Coniston in the midst of an attempt on the world water speed
record. (An event etched on our collective English memories, as school children).
Mutter agreed to call the piece 'Coniston Water' and the end was adapted - as you
will hear ....
The central story in verse and song was developed from an idea of Steve's, which finally crystallised as a children's book in 1980. The skeleton frame-work of the Mr Mick story-idea is similar to that of Steve's book. The verse Mutter and Steve created is witty and mischievous, but there are underlying deeper and darker levels of meaning that seem to reflect the troubled and frustrated feeling of the band at that time.
|"There are no breaks between the
songs. How will the DJs know where the tracks begin?" That was what
Rocket Records wanted to know, when presented with the finished tapes. Both
Mutter and Steve remember a desperately unhappy day at A.I.R. Studios, during which new
pieces of verse were scribbled on the backs of envelopes and hastily recorded, to create a
sad, short paropy of the intended atmsopheric whole, while the songs were chopped up and
moved out of context with each other.
So there we are. Both Mutter and Steve are looking forward to seeing and hearing 'The Original Mr Mick ' presented as they intended and will be interested to know what you all make of it.
Copyright 2001 Jennie Evans This page was updated on October 17th, 2000 by Jennie Evans
Website content: Copyright 2000 Jennie Evans