Friday, March 13, 2009
that was a band! I'm relatively new to The Move; only heard their Best Of on the Repertoire label about 3 years back, though their name had been floating around my brain for a number of years previous, mostly through their track, "I Can Hear The Grass Grow", which was featured on the Nuggets 2 box set, and also through some ancient interview I read w/ The Gun Club's Jeffrey Lee Pierce about 10 years back, in which he waxed lyrical on his favourite artists, such as the Germs, Pharaoh Sanders and The Move. Two out of three sounded good; I made a mental note of the third. The Salvo label outta the UK has reissued The Move's first three albums - this, 1970's Shazam and 1971's Looking On, curiously missing out on their 1972 swansong, Message From The Country - and they're three albums which've been high on my listening agenda the last month. Just about any MOJO-reading dork (and sorry to disappoint, but I'm not such a person) will tell you that The Move were perhaps the great UK band of the late '60s/early '70s who've never truly received their due, and I'll second that notion. Headed up by Roy Wood, who later fronted glam oddballs Wizzard, and, on their last two albums, Jeff Lynne - yeah, that guy; anyone with a Rocklapedia Britannicus will know that The Move were Lynne's great precursor to his later success w/ ELO - they started out as a kinda psych/pop version of The Who, w/ eccentric flourishes a la Syd's 'Floyd or Between The Buttons/Satanic Majesties-period 'Stones, before mutating into a truly unique psych/pop/hard rock/prog/glam outfit for their later LPs. Shazam, in particular, shows The Move to be one fuck of a ROCK band, w/ several tracks reaching Hawkwind/'Sabbath levels of guitar overload, so never write this band off as a bunch of candy-asses. Right now it's their first, self-titled album which is really getting the flogging. Originally released in 1968, it's a note-perfect Brit psych-rock disc w/ the kind of pop hooks that lodge themselves deep into yer cranium. They were pretty obviously heavily influenced by The Who at the time, w/ Keith Moon-style drum fills and various tracks whose chorus' sound like they were ripped straight from the "I Can See For Miles" school of songwriting, but let it be said: that's not a bad thing! This has some of their best ever songs, flat-out classics such as "Yellow Rainbow", "(Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree", "Walk Upon The Water" (my fave, and the most obviously Who-damaged), "Useless Information", "Fire Brigade" and "Cherry Blossom Clinic". Fact is, it's hard to spot a dud here. The Move were a truly ace combo of psychedelic pop whimsy and rock 'n' roll crunch, and I'd place this right up there w/ its contemporaries Pipers At The Gates Of Dawn, Satanic Majesties Request and Village Green Preservation Society. The Move, like the best bands of their era - like the best bands of any era - sound like a real band. No session-muso nonsense or studio hackery; there's really expressive musicianship here, awesome interplay w/ just the right stops and starts and little flourishes which steer it away from anything resembling bog-standard "rock". All this gushing leaves just one question unanswered: what in the hell are you waiting for? It took me 37 years to hear the thing, so don't waste a second longer! Anyone w/ a hankerin' for late '60s Who, psych-era 'Stones, SF Sorrow, early Roxy Music or Bolan and Bowie (two guys who ripped The Move's sound fairly heavily)'s best '70s moments needs to hop on board.