I care not one jot what anybody else says. As far as I’m concerned, Roy Wood is one of the greatest progressive artists ever to sport a beard. If the Oxford definition of progressive is “moving forward” (and who can argue with those boffins?), then Birmingham’s finest – and hairiest – bard, certainly fits the bill. Whether it’s the psychedelic and progressive excursions partaken of in his capacity as songwriting dervish behind The Move; or the experimentation of the embryonic Electric Light Orchestra; or the various solo outings that pushed the envelope when it came to what other breakaway solo acts were doing at the time; or, as in this case, the musical melting pot that is Wizzard, his post-ELO act that did its best to defy the pigeonholing of chancers such as myself.
Released in 1973, Wizzard Brew, the debut album by Roy Wood’s ensemble of Brum’s mentalist musicians, including Rick Price, who played bass on the Shazam and Looking On albums by The Move, is progressive, experimental and bloody well great, all in the same breath. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Wizzard Brew is one of the finest albums ever to have seen the cold, unwelcoming light of day.
Wizzard Brew ferments, what should be, a wholly unpalatable blend of progressive rock ‘n’ roll. Note the “‘n’ roll”; there’s a suffix being put to bad use here.
Whereas the follow-up album, Eddy and the Falcons, was more of a straightforward tribute to Wood’s musical heroes of the1950s, this preliminary burst sticks with the progressive shenanigans demonstrated at the helm of The Move and ELO.
Despite completely banjaxing the record-buying public with the debut single ‘Ball Park Incident’ and the tribute to the Phil Spector’s wall of sound, the ubiquitous ‘See My Baby Jive‘, both of which shifted by the cartload, Wizzard Brew reached out from somewhere else entirely, suggesting a band in no hurry to court public favour.
album reviews, prog rock
Message From the Country was the 1971 parting shot from Brummie rockers The Move, something of a contractual obligation while the now three piece recorded the first ELO album. And as far as contractual obligations go, it’s a bloody good’un.
Consisting of Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan, this album, recorded for the band’s new label and EMI’s progressive wing, Harvest, saw Lynne move to the fore, sharing 50% of the songwriting, vocal and production duties with the The Move’s regular creative workhorse, Roy Wood.
As a band that’d travelled a musical path from Mod chic and pop, to psychedelic floweriness, through to some particularly weighty progressive rock, Message From the Country sees a return to the realms of the pop song, albeit in a somewhat progressive vein.
album reviews, progressive pop crossover
Roy Wood, prog rock or not? Discuss…
Although Birmingham’s finest beard (and bard) can boast a finger jabbed deep into many a musical pie, as far back as his early days in The Move there has been an experimental edge asserting its authority over the poppier elements. The Move’s third album, Looking On, was as progressive as they come, and then there’s both ELO’s debut and Wizzard’s Wizzard Brew, the latter a heavy, eclectic mixture that’s the sonic equivalent of a progressive brick wall falling on your head.
Roy Wood’s second solo album, 1975′s Mustard, is no exception. Traditional prog rock, in the vein of Yes, ELP or King Crimson, this is not, but the scope of its invention and the refusal to adhere to what might be regarded as common musical strictures makes it equally as progressive as a Gentle Giant album. The fact that, as with his previous solo excursion Boulders, Roy Wood wrote, arranged, produced, sang and played all the instruments himself only adds to this unconventional approach and justification of the prog label I’ve bestowed upon it. I like to label things, see?
album reviews, prog rock, progressive pop crossover
1970′s Looking On, the third album from The Move, came complete with yet another new member. Following the departure of chief vocalist Carl Wayne, Roy Wood, Bev Bevan and Rick Price were joined by Jeff Lynne. Lynne was an old friend of Wood’s and had even replaced the bearded bard in Birmingham beat group, The Nightriders, under whose stewardship they had transformed into toytown psychedelic curio, The Idle Race.
Another exponent of the more experimental side of music, Lynne’s arrival marked a change of direction for The Move, giving Wood a likeminded soulmate to spark against, as well as acting as the catalyst that would lead to the group’s drawn-out demise…
album reviews, prog rock
To my mind, ‘The Words of Aaron’ from 1971′s Message From the Country, is one of The Move’s finest compositions. With Jeff Lynne at the helm it sounds very much like early ELO, which is understandable as this song came out during the drawn out disintegration of The Move, at the overlap point between the the old band becoming the new.
‘The Words of Aaron’ blends progressive rock, psychedelia and Beatlesesque harmonies with the dense, grinding sound prevalent on previous Move album, the exceptional Looking On, and comes out the other end completely unscathed. More of this, please!
music vid, prog rock, psychedelic rock
The quirky, lyrical and often whimsical Idle Race emerged out of the ashes of The Nightriders – the Birmingham beat group that had one time counted Roy Wood amongst its ranks – following the arrival of Jeff Lynne, Wood cohort in The Move and then the Electric Light Orchestra. With the core Nightriders line-up of Dave Pritchard (rhythm guitar), Greg Masters (bass) and Roger Spencer (drums), Lynne took on vocal and lead guitar duties, got busy writing some psychedelic tunes, and in 1968 they released their debut album, The Birthday Party.
Maintaining a steady balance between psychedelic rock and psych-pop, The Birthday Party avoids slipping into the heavily phased and prolonged freakouts that sometimes characterised the former, without drifting into the overt feyness that often brushed a ruffled shirt cuff against the latter.
Jaunty is a good way to describe the album, with plenty of quirky touches and lyrics to match. Jeff Lynne’s vocal style and delivery (long before he acquired the mid-atlantic accent of later ELO records) match his subject matter perfectly and the use of sound effects throughout – and in the case of the exquisite ‘The Lady Who Said She Could Fly’, orchestral lavishment – is spot on.
album reviews, psych-pop, psychedelic rock
In need of cheering up? I certainly am. Following a week of unbearable heat and now thunderstorms, lightning and perpetual rain (not so bad, in my opinion), a dose of the absurd might be in order. What better than the Idle Race?
music vid, psych-pop, psychedelic rock
The HFoS ‘Who is/are:’ series provides handy bite-sized blasts of info for those who live their lives on the move.
To kick off what will be an occasional series (basically when I haven’t the time to write anything more substantial), who better than Birmingham’s own musical magi, unfairly remembered by most for the perennial Christmas fave ‘I Wish it could be Christmas Everyday’? The mighty Roy Wood!
feature, who is/are
This is where it all started for Roy Wood and The Move, with their debut album simply titled, The Move, recorded on and off over a 14 month period and finally released in 1968.
Okay, it might seem unfair to single out Roy Wood, as The Move were – at the time of recording, at least – Carl Wayne, Bev Bevan, Trevor Burton and Chris ‘Ace’ Kefford, but being the creative whirlwind responsible for the lion’s share of their songs, the two are, and always will be, inextricably linked. Even if nowadays you are more likely to think of Christmas at the mention of his name.
But back to the album, here presented in another expanded, digipack reissue by Fly Records. This one’s a lavish two-disc affair with the usual, informative booklet, and featuring on disc one the original mono album as it was released in April 1968, complete with bonus tracks of the single A and B-sides that didn’t feature. Disc two is called ‘New Movement’ and is a newly created stereo mix of the original album with a slightly different track listing and a couple of alternate versions.
Well that’s all well and good, but is it any cop?
album reviews, psych-pop, psychedelic rock
Many has been the night when yours truly has lay awake wondering just what it would be like to have a BBC Radio 2 celebration of the studio work of the mighty Roy Wood. (Radio! Remember that?)
Image from: BBC.co.uk
Well it seems my prayers are to be answered this Easter Monday (13th April 2009) when, like the unexpected return of another devotee of beard and flowing locks this weekend, BBC Radio 2 shines the light on Roy Wood in The Record Producers.
news, prog rock, psychedelic rock
The world of prog rock has never shied away from the important things in life. Such as social comment; some spaced out, acid-soaked wierdness; a prolonged guitar solo; and the ability to grow a beard of note. Here are some of prog rock’s illuminati, who have taken it upon themselves to demonstrate that man is not judged by razor alone.
The Edgar Broughton Band
An absolute barnstormer of a band, sporting barnstorming beards. Warwick’s own The Edgar Broughton Band set out to prove there was legs in that old adage: “Why settle for one beard, when you can just as easily have three?” Or four, dependant on the line-up. Rob and Steve Broughton, HFoS salutes thee.
feature, prog rock
Here at Head Full of Snow we love a bit of the Electric Light Orchestra – some might say more than life itself. They may be scowled upon by the hardline of prog rock aficionados, but not here. Repeat after me: “There’s nothing to be ashamed of in liking the Electric Light Orchestra”. Not at all. We even like the 1979 album Discovery, and if you listen closely to that record you may just pick out the exact moment at which they lost their magic, for as the 80s dawned, E.L.O faded. But it’s back eight years and seven studio albums to their cracking debut, for this review.
In June of 1971, when The Move released their final bow in the form of the excellent Message From the Country, they were already finished as a group. Despite returning to the studio in December of the same year to record what would be their last top ten hit, ‘California Man’, the three remaining members, Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan had already released their debut experimental album, the self-titled, The Electric Light Orchestra.
Renamed No Answer in the US, following a bizarre mix-up by a record exec, it was the fruits of Wood and Lynne’s desire to diversify The Move’s sound, and Roy Wood in particular who wanted to mix classical music elements into rock music, that gave birth to the Electric Light Orchestra.
album reviews, prog rock
As promised last weekend, we will be reviewing the Move’s entire back catalogue over the next few months and there’s no better time than the present to kick it off, not, as you may assume with their debut album, but its follow-up, Shazam. That’s how we do things around here.
And what an album it is. As satisfying as a well placed kick to some self-righteous git’s wedding tackle.
1969′s Shazam was the second album from the Brummy psychedelic/experimental/ prog outfit, The Move. It also saw them shy of two of the original members who’d appeared on the eponymous debut. As way of replacement, Rick Price was brought in on bass. But the core membership (prior to the arrival of Jeff Lynne) remained the same. Carl Wayne on vocals. Bev Bevan on drums. And Roy Wood, the musical powerhouse behind them all.
Despite coming at a time of upheaval within the group, with a change of management and Wayne soon to depart to make way for Lynne (the catalyst that pushed The Move onwards to becoming the Electric Light Orchestra), Shazam doesn’t disappoint.
album reviews, prog rock, psychedelic rock
… Cast your mind back ten years to the girl who’s next to me in school, If I put my hand upon her leg she’d hit me with a rule …
Surely one of the greatest opening lines to a song in musical history, provided by one of its greatest bands. Birmingham’s very own, The Move.
Here at Head Full of Snow, we love The Move. They sit exclusively on a list of bands that could do no wrong, having disbanded and become the equally mighty Electric Light Orchestra in 1972 – long before the dawning of the 80s turned many a fine group sour.