Out here on the perimeter of the Interwebs there is stuff that you hope to one day find but it is probably not going to happen. A personal grail is to discover live footage of the astounding raunchy funk of Ms Betty Davis…yeah,one day. This week I found the 17 year old Alex Chilton singing a Box Tops’ hit in bad, phonetic Italian. Who knew that the Memphis blue-eyed soul boys were so big in the Italian speaking world (that’ll be Italy then !). It’s good, I was not aware of its existence but it is a novelty really. This though is the real deal…as the young people say..WTF !
I have read about the Move’s live performances but by the time they made it into our TVs the rough edges had been smoothed a little. The auto-destruction & pyrotechnics made them rivals to the Who but, while Ace Kefford & Trevor Burton certainly were the guys to have by your side in a tight situation, the band went for the pop-psych Roy Wood songs. They were memorable hits, there is a lot of love for the Move among my fellow bloggers & around my F-book karass. So here is the garage-psych of 1966, the mean & moody arsonists leaving an impression & a few scorch marks behind them just as the first single “Night Of Fear” is about to come around.
“Watch Your Step” is just brilliant. An incantation running into a freak out while stuff around the stage burns. Carl Wayne had always, in my view, seemed a little marginalised as Roy stepped forward. Here Carl leads his men over the top, setting about a smoking TV set with a fair-sized axe. Roy is content to whip up a raging feedback somewhere else on the caliginous stage. This is why the Move were considered to be a premier live act at a time when Jimi & the Who were raising the bar for beat group brouhaha. Even Bev Bevan, quiet man/loud drummer, a stalwart of the band, is moved to raise himself from his seat !
Let’s have a bit more then. The next 3 years should have been fun & games for the hit makers. It seems to have been more games than fun. First Ace, after an indulgent tour with Jimi & the Floyd, left as did Burton who complained of a pop bias. The Move spent 1969 playing the UK cabaret circuit a fairy tale…grim… when there was a growing reputation in the US as a rock band. Roy Wood, a quiet man, seemed to put up with it all. His hit songs really are a fine body of work but as late as 1970 the LP “Shazam” was half self-penned, half covers, none of which were singles. When Carl Wayne finally left Wood roped another Brummie, another writer, into the band & the Move, which was a brand with contractual obligations but barely functioning as a group, finally got busy.
Jeff Lynne had been a face on the Birmingham beat scene for some time. His band the Idle Race had come close a few times with some clever Beatles inspired pop. Not close enough, I remember plenty of those 45s but there is not one video clip of the group in action. Having Jeff around inspired Roy Wood to get some songs finished & there was a 2nd LP in 1970. “Looking On” lacks consistency as some of the songs seem to be experiments rather than a commitment to a new sound. “Brontosaurus” put the Move back in the Top 10 but the bluesy “When Alice Comes Back To The Farm” , just one of the directions investigated by the band, missed out even though it is a superior bit of work.
There was one more Move LP & there is plenty of good musicfon “Message From the Country”. Wood & Lynne were set on their Electric Light Orchestra project. I think that Roy felt that the Move could not make the change & Lynne was not going to let this second chance go. E.L.O. was not a joint concern for too long. It seemed that Wood just gave it away, retreating behind the hair, make-up & the Spectoresque rock & roll of Wizzard. The later work of the Move is substantial enough. I have thought about checking for the subsequent work of Jeff Lynne but I have heard a couple of E.L.O. songs & life is too short for that.
This last clip though is not one of the last 4 singles the band released. It goes back to the original 5 giving it loads to sell the 2nd single on French TV. They were smart young Mods who were not wrecking the joint. Carl looks as if he is in another band entirely with no idea about the lyrics he is singing. Ace & Trevor are the naughty boys while Roy is almost hiding behind them, not even bothering to lip-synch his parts & Bev hits some stuff. The song, “I Can Hear The Grass Grow” is an absolute powerpop-psych classic. Lovely stuff.