THE MOVE discography

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The following reviews are based on Salvo Records‘ 40th anniversary series that doesn’t include “Message From The Country” which wasn’t originally released on Regal Zonophone and still didn’t receive the brilliant treatment its predecessors underwent.
Move
Shazam
Looking On
Anthology 1966-1972
The Very Best Of
 

THE MOVE –
The Very Best Of
Salvo 2009
The British rock history rolled in one… multicolored patchwork carpet.“THE BEATLES seemed to be the only group that had permission to change their sound with each record. THE MOVE weren’t allowed to that”, said the latter band’s arranger Tony Visconti. But then, the Fabs were everyone’s darlings, while the Brummies’ way to the public heart, what with their on-stage axe-swinging, felt too physical to frighten the socks off many. Take the psychedelic scariness of “Night Of Fear”, their debut single that, hinged on riff from Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” and backed with the spooky “Disturbance”, shows quite an orchestral depth to the original quintet’s heavy antics. Yet shifting the tack from album to album doesn’t mean moving from skin to skin within a record which was ensemble’s main composer’s Roy Wood’s shtick; that’s what might make their LP a difficult salad to swallow – and that’s what makes this 25-track collection so irresistible a proposition and more than just an introduction to THE MOVE’s rather short catalogue.

All the hits are here, from the Wonderlandish innocent “Flowers In The Rain” to the infectious stomper “Brontosaurus”, many of them heart-wrenching no matter how merry a song sounds: the same shadow of pain falls over the abandon of “I Can Hear The Grass Grow” and the “Penny Lane”-following “Blackberry Way”, one of the Brit rock’s greatest achievements. But the album cuts come no less alluring – out of an LP context. THE MOVE could have given THE KINKS run for their English money with the charmer “Wave The Flag And Stop The Train” or the “Cherry Blossom Clinic” brass ringing, while their wildness looks out from the romping blues of “When Alice Comes Back to the Farm” and the Jerry Lee Lewis-esque bark of “California Man” to lurk deep in the “Fire Brigade” baroque rave-up. It’s so varied that any attempt to arrange the tracks chronologically would prove illogical with the equal rallying cry in Carl Wayne’s vocals on the live take on of “Piece Of My Heart” and Jeff Lynne’s on “Do Ya”, and the equal hooks in ditties such as “Curly” and “Chinatown”. It may be a mess, yet what a beautiful mess it is! Paled – or impaled – by history, now THE MOVE look like the most precious rainbow.

*****
 

THE MOVE –
Anthology 1966-1972
Salvo 2008
The method to the madness: four discs of alternative movement including live inroads.With such an immense diversity of THE MOVE’s output and each of their album a kaleidoscope of sounds and images, any compilation is bound to fail when it comes to putting it all in a context, but this 4CD box more than succeeds in doing exactly so. A regular, if extensive, overview of the Birmingham heroes’ oeuvre for the uninitiated, it’s a treasure trove for the fan presenting, alongside real rarities like the unfinished “Simple Simon”, both singles and album tracks mostly in rarely, if ever, heard form. Some might be nothing special music-wise, yet the historic value of 1966’s slice of rambunctious, call-and-response rhythm-and-blues that’s Roy Wood’s “You’re The One I Need” and the same year’s three soul covers laid down for radio is impossible to underestimate as they’re the ensemble’s first recordings ever. And if artificially enhanced stereo versions of well-known tracks such as the debut album‘s “Cherry Blossom Clinic” often sound dull compared to the mono originals, the unplugged, just Wood and Carl Wayne, run-through of “Flowers In The Rain” seems more stunning in its sparseness, whereas “I Can Hear The Grass Grow” taped in Fillmore West in 1969 has to be heard to believe this early song might be spread over 10 gorgeously easy-riding minutes incorporating the Tchaikovsky bone of “Night Of Fear” that graces Disc 1 in a significantly different, less fierce shape to THE MOVE’s first ’45.

The concert recordings take up the whole of Disc 2 here, all from Marquee but committed to tape on two separate occasions, in February and May 1968, with the quintet losing Ace Kefford and shrinking into fearsome foursome in the interim. Salvaged from the aural mess that bugged the multitracks and newly mixed into stereo, the twelve songs not only represent the band in their natural habitat much better than two tracks from “Something Else From The Move” EP but include live takes on hit singles “Fire Brigade” and, again, “Flowers In The Rain” as well as the drummer Bev Bevan’s old friend’s Danny Laine’s driving “Too Much In Love” and the EVERLY BROTHERS’ psyched-up “The Price Of Love”. But while the London’s soil had the group throw Erma Franklin’s heartbreaking “Piece Of My Heart” West Coast-ward, the Fillmore document at the end of Disc 3 finds the Englishmen harmoniously tearing up the Anglophiles NAZZ’s “Open My Eyes”. Of no less interest are two 1968’s instrumental attempts to cut “Second Class (She’s Too Good For Me)” which had been abandoned until five years later Roy used the song for his debut solo LP, and his vocals lifted off Tony Visconti’s lush strings on “Beautiful Daughter” underlining each one’s contribution to the track.

But it’s also a sign of the band’s self-confidence that there’s only three pieces from 1970’s “Shazam” of which only “Hello, Susie”, shortened for the U.S. compilation may be considered a rarity; with scarcity of material for their second album, THE MOVE didn’t produce many out-takes and rather went for the listener’s throat. This heaviness accumulated even more once Jeff Lynne came onboard right after that record was released, and the edited version of “Brontosaurus”, his first work with the group, packs a stronger punch here than on “Looking On” that emerged six months later. The rough mix of social commentary “Turkish Tram Conductor Blues” reveals a fantastic rapport between Wood and Lynne – that eventually proved to be the ensemble’s undoing as ELO outshone THE MOVE – it’s a pity Salvo failed to get their saving hands on the Birmingham savages’ last album, “Message From The Country”, as it would have been great to peek beyond the polished veneer of irresistible smashes “California Man”, “Tonight” and “Chinatown” appearing on “Anthology” in their familiar form… yet perfectly in the context of one of the best British rock band’s real history. Once the albums are collected, it’s time to have them anthologized. But this box, enhanced with a 72-page book, is as good a start to investigate further into the actual albums.

*****
 

THE MOVE –
Looking On
Regal Zonophone 1970

Salvo 2008

With solid thinking on the shaking ground things get stompingly heavy.The very embodiment of paradox, Roy Wood wanted Jeff Lynne to join THE MOVE for quite a time before the latter did the move from THE IDLE RACE (to be replaced with the brilliant Dave Walker, but that’s a different story) which resulted in dilution of the former’s vision at the time when it could be crystallized due to other forces leaving the band. Almost immediately, the two came up with the idea of ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA and set their new baby in motion while trying to rock the old boat to keep it afloat. With only one of the “Looking On” seven pieces falling short of the four-minute mark, there’s a great dose of conceptual thinking involved, and all of this could have sounded d(r)eadly intellectual if it wasn’t so funny. That, previously overlooked side of the record, comes clear with the new re-issue where “The Duke Of Edinburgh’s Lettuce” doo-wop-cum-opera extravaganza’s rough mix makes a great bonus track and sparkles separately from closing progressive boogie of “Feel Too Good”, laden with P.P. Arnold and Doris Troy’s vocals, Rick Price’s bass and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” hook, and linking the album’s end to its beginning.

And what a heavy start the album boasts in the title track! With its wailing viscous guitar, which sometimes runs in unison with Wood’s pounding voice and sometimes is double-tracked, and its monolithic wall of sound broken by the piano splashes the composition might have appeared on THE MOVE’s fellow Brummies’ BLACK SABBATH’s record if not for its second part that sees Roy plucking a sitar and blowing the reeds while Bev Bevan’s drums with jazzy shuffle. Yet if Lynne’s “What?” also takes on epic proportions, its psychedelic drift feels less contagious and dated, unlike the music-hall vocal harmonies and Eastern motifs of his own catchy “Open Up Said The World At The Door” that, save for Bev’s phased solo, is an obvious pre-cursor to ELO’s illumination even in its piano demo, here too. There’s more boogie in the merry and simultaneously doomy approach to “Turkish Tram Conductor Blues”, its country banjo and jolly sax in counter-balance with blistering six-string race, in the wild abandon of “When Alice Comes Back To The Farm”, kissed by slide, laced with cello and topped with madful ivory-tinkling, and, of course, in the slowed-down to fit the pace of the subject, rhythm of “Brontosaurus”, the band’s Top Ten single that gets speeded up as it stomps into the acoustic and slide guitars rock ‘n’ roll swirl.

With additional unreleased material allowing looking in into the recording progress, THE MOVE’s third album, previously considered their least interesting, demands revaluation – and deserves it!

****
 

THE MOVE – Shazam
Regal Zonophone 1970

Salvo 2007

Their sprawling masterpiece and their Rubicon into the prog waters uncharted yet. Supermen the foursome weren’t but they possessed some supernatural forces.Ambition is the concept to be revered for, and THE MOVE had it aplenty. In 1968, soon after “Move” was released, the band announced their second album would be a double LP; issued a single disc in February 1970, “Shazam” featured only one side of Roy Wood originals – three out of the six the record contained. Still, there was no vanity in the band’s attempt to cross over to progressive rock: the quartet liked experimenting anyway, and the best example of these inclinations is “Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited”, a wigout updating the group’s debut album last track. Without losing a tip of its pop charm the composition gained the lunacy its subject matter deserved – either marching or waltzing and getting crazy with special effects and tight harmonies, it slips into acoustic, and then vocal, Bach-based lacing, bass-feast courtesy of Rick Price and the electric guitar “Chinese Dance” from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker”. Fantastic, though nothing new – or nothing new but fantastic!

Not that the opening blast of “Hello Susie” was anything new: this Wood tune had already been a hit in the AMEN CORNER version, but in his own reading its writer made the boogie much wilder, with raw vocals and the cutting edge guitar and Bev Bevan’s drums breaks and splashes. And that was after the most rebellious members, Ace Kefford and Trevor Burton, jumped the ship! The assault gets smoothed with a gently moving “Beautiful Daughter” adorned with Tony Visconti-arranged lush, yet romantic, string section. There’s the same Renaissance-themed classicism in the ARS NOVA cover, “Fields Of People”, sprinkled with mad laugh and conversational snippets Carl Wayne caught on tape between the takes when recording his voice in the street outside the studio and midway breaking into a sitar-driven raga, yet it’s in totally different class from the Roy Wood’s creations.

The psychedelic tones and drones of Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing on My Mind” and heavy, if enchanting, blues reworking of Mann and Weil’s “Don’t Make My Baby Blue” just can’t be compared neither to the preceding hat-trick nor the singles that preceded “Shazam” and are added here as bonuses alongside a couple of demos. As adorable as the extended vaudeville pomp of “Omnibus”, the “Wild Tiger Woman” romp and pop ditty “Curly” may be, best of the bunch is THE MOVE’s most glorious three minutes, “Blackberry Way”, their only Number 1 all the vocally brighter in its alternative mix. With it as a coda, this re-issue is the MOVE album to have and savor.

*****
 

THE MOVE – Move
Regal Zonophone 1968

Salvo 2007

On the way from the dazzle to the razzle, the Birmingham’s five’s first album gains the deluxe weight.The late-starters, THE MOVE’s music dragged them one year back when the quintet’s first album arrived: with rootsiness becoming order of the day for THE BEATLES and THE STONES, the fairy-tale extravaganzas felt dated and childhood nostalgia hung Albatross even on THE KINKS’ “Village Green Preservation Society”. But, unlike Ray Davies, Roy Wood, the band’s leading force, had too many threads vying for the band’s tapestry main line to tie, even in his own head. So while the diversity served greatness for their 45s – and there are two Top 5 singles on the group’s debut album – “Move” effectively falls apart as a whole.

Its opening number, “Yellow Rainbow”, is more remarkable for a groovy interplay of Ace Kefford’s bass and Bev Bevan tom-toms rather than its tune, and the verse of “(Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree” yields to, and builds up to, the childish catchiness of the song’s chorus. At the same time, “Flowers In The Rain” and “Kilroy Was Here” are as detailed as any Mod anthem gets with Carl Wayne’s deceptively deadpan vocal delivery somehow conveying the subtlest mood nuance without relying on Tony Visconti’s arrangements that shine on the superior, stereo version of the album which, alongside other bonus cuts including early, 1967’s versions of some tracks, fills the second disc of this deluxe edition, and sparkle on the brass-bright “Cherry Blossom Clinic”, the LP’s memorable finale, that in a new mix churns reveals a strings silky skin over its sitar-like bones.

Sitting beside these little gems, even covers feel humorous, and it was a clever decision to give the lead singer’s role on THE COASTERS’ weeper “Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart” to the profundo drummer Bevan and Eddie Cochran’s “Weekend” to guitarist Trevor Burton, plus previously unreleased Motown-copying “Don’t Throw Stones At Me” to Kefford. Still, there’s much more fire in the harmonies-filled pop of “Useless Information” and, of course, in the “Fire Brigade” baroque rock, or the singles tagged to the first disc such as “I Can Hear The Grass Grow” and “Night Of Fear” that burn themselves onto the cortex as well as the gentle, strings-awashed “The Girl Outside”, delivered by Burton, and the Wood-sung “Mist On A Monday Morning”. So late or not late, four decades on “Move” is a period-preserving classic.

****
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