Roy Wood does not get the place in the Britrock scrapbook he deserves. He missed the great pop art splurge of 1965-66 which produced figures still considered (rightly) iconic. As these bands went to the country to “get it together” he was busy writing & playing on 9 hit singles. He is best remembered for a Xmas hit from a couple of bands down the line. His “real” band, the Move, made some great pop singles. His less successful contemporaries have their records recycled & re-packaged as Freakbeat or pop-psyche while his Top 10 records are overlooked
I love this clip. Roy in dodgy crusader chic, the rest of the band in their Carnaby finery. Except for the T-shirted Bev Bevan ,quietly planning world domination for E.L.O. Despite having a free hand at I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet, Ace & Trevor still look like the Brummie rough boys they were. Ace Kefford was not long for the band. Off to an unsuccessful solo career. Carl Wayne had originally been the lead singer, he had always had a touch of the cabaret act about him. Roy’s songs became the 45 releases & Wayne pretty much became the “Bez” of the band. He hung around though, knowing a good thing when he saw it.
“Fire Brigade” was the 4th in this run of hits. The first two were lyrically psychedelic, all 3 were musically muscular pop. “Fire Brigade” was the most poptastic yet. Their shyster manager Tony Secunda was fond of a publicity stunt to keep the group in the public eye. As they became more established this became less necessary. However the very next single bombed.
Was it because Carl sang lead ? Was it the Move trying to go “Heavy” ? Whatever, it was a great song. A few years later when we had a Regal Zonophone collection it was this track which got played. Other Move singles raced up the charts. This one just never gathered any momentum. The next single “Blackberry Way” was their only #1. So “Wild Tiger Woman”, a lost pop hit of the 60s. Play it again, it rocks.
Wood hooked up with Jeff Lynne from the Idle Race , an unsuccessful Brummie band. The Move were now down to 3 members & they were all planning the next stage of their career. A band using a classical string section, the Electric Light Orchestra. There is a fascinating clip for the single “Tonight” but it is not comparable to the rather astounding final 45 release by the Move.
The b-side “Do Ya” is pure E.L.O .only better. The Move had never made a name for themselves in the USA. It was this song which gave Jeff Lynne an entry there. What the hell is going on in this video ? “California Man” is pure Rock n Roll pastiche, a style Wood used increasingly for the rest of his records. Touched by the brush of Glam the expanded band just look a mess. The contrast between the rock threads and the 70s hair, Wood , forsaking the guitar so that he could roll around on the floor while pretending to play the saxophone. the saving grace of the whole dog’s dinner is that it is a great vibrant single.
Joe Boyd, producer & all-round music man, in his very readable memoir “White Bicycles”, was very impressed with the early Move. A successful residency at the Marquee led to consideration that the band could replace Pink Floyd as residents at the hippie UFO club. How different would things have been if this had happened ? Instead the band chose the road to Top Of the Pops.The quote at the end of the clip from Rolling Stone is a fair way to end this. I might come back to Wizzard because I quite liked them. I will leave though by underlining the quote & repeating that the Move have been underrated for too long.