As you probably know, Esoteric Recordings have reissued the Move catalog. The band were the combination in my previous blogs of my champion and my love about them with the sounds of; Psychedelic, Garage, Hard, Symphonic, Glam, and Progressive Rock. We are going to look at the 2-CD reissue set of their third album entitled, Looking On. Originally released in December of 1970 on the Fly label and on Capitol in the States, the band moved (no-pun attended) away from the psych-pop sounds and headed into a heavier, glam, blues, and prog approach.
Jeff Lynne of The Idle Race joined up with The Move after Carl Wayne’s departure. Both he and Roy were a perfect match, a perfect team, and a perfect combination between the two of them. And one of those moments, it would become one of the early beginnings of the Electric Light Orchestra (E.L.O). The recording of the album took place between from May to September of that year. When the album was released in the winter of that year, it didn’t do well and tanked.
The label decided to move forward with Roy’s friend, the late great Marc Bolan and his critical achievement with T. Rex. It was ahead of it’s time and now with the Esoteric reissue of the overlooked and hidden treasure of the band’s lost classic. But let’s get straight to the music. The arrival of Lynne is a turning point. When you listen to the track, What, the composition is a sinister, ominous, and heavier opus from the vocalizations between Wood and Lynne. You get the haunting guitar rhythm sections that the two of them do.
From the riffs and heavier drum sounds, wah-wah effects, and the melodic sounds are the ingredients that are on the composition. The incarnation of E.L.O is evidential. From the sliding blues and string section with a roaring ride into the burst of the ‘50s rock sounds from the piano on When Alice Comes Back to the Farm. And Turkish Tram Conductor Blues feels like something straight out of the sessions of On the Third Day.
You can hear the riffs that resemble the styles of Ma-Ma-Ma Belle with the ‘70s Glam killer grooves that the rhythm and lead handle and punching sax solos followed by acoustic guitar solo and roughened up and in your face vocals that Roy Wood does that gives it the driven electrical output. The opening 7-minute and 50 second title track, sees the influences of Psych, Heavy, and Middle-eastern flavors followed by a little bit of an homage to Zappa’s intro of What’s the Ugliest Part of your Body from the piano sounds of the inspirational references.
Open Up Said the World at the Door is one of their progressive. Jeff and Roy sharing vocals followed by an electric sitar, crumhorn, and bits of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee and Rick Price’s bass and guitars following along the midtempo groove before Bev’s intense drum solo and Ravel-sque dramatic rhythm of the classical styles, is thunderous and strong with the dooming guitar solo in between. Then it’s back into the Glam saddle with the killer, Brontosaurus.
Originally released as a single and reaching number 7 in April of that year, Roy is on top of his game. We have the heavier riffs, boogie-woogie piano, acoustic rhythm, and the styles of Slade comes to mind followed by a bluesy-slide guitar work with fast driven sections that will get you back into the dance floor. The closer, Feel Too Good, is Soul Classical Hard Rock at it’s best.
Featuring Jeff on the drums, roaring bass work, more of the sliding guitar lines and featuring background vocals from PP Arnold and the late Doris Troy. I love Rick’s bass lines on here. Rick and the piano work done by Jeff himself, the two of them work very well as Lynne would trade off his classical and ‘50s chops to capture the glory days of Rock and Roll.
The track would later be in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 classic, Boogie Nights which was my introduction to the band’s music. Not to mention the humoristic hidden track of the doo-wop operatic touch, The Duke of Ediburgh’s Lettuce which closes the album off and shows that The Move had a great sense of humor. The bonus tracks on here features two takes of the title track and a rough mix of Turkish Tram Conductor’s Blues. And a rare Mono US Radio promo release of Brontosaurus.
The essence of Bowie and Bolan grows stronger as Rick Price takes over Lead Vocals on the B-side single of Brontosaurus, Lightnin’ Never Strikes Twice while the BBC sessions recorded from March to July of 1970, gives more of what is to come. The slowed-down and fuzz-tone rocked out version of The Beatles’ She’s A Woman done by Wood gives it almost a take of Birmingham’s own Black Sabbath while the unearthed composition of Jeff Lynne’s Falling Forever, shows Jeff at his touch of a break-up and coming back again song. It has the essence of his days with The Idle Race thrown in.
There’s also interviews with Bev Bevan and along with Roy Wood one of which was done by BBC DJ Brian Matthew and one by a radio journalist on The Move’s direction into a classical and symphonic rock approach. The 2-CD set contains a poster of the band’s third album which includes rare articles about them along with a 20-page booklet containing liner notes by Mark Paytress, photos and interviews with Bev Bevan, Rick Price, and Roy in which he did an interview from Trouser Press and BBC’s Disco 2.
The band released one more album in which it was their fourth entitled, Message from the Country in 1971 and then The Move was no more. It was now the Electric Light Orchestra as they released their debut album, No Answer. Roy would soon depart from the band after walking out for the sessions for the band’s second follow-up due to the tension between him and Lynne and the manager, Don Arden, who was Sharon Osbourne’s father.
Roy would later form his own band in the styles of the Beach Boys, Big Band, and Glam Rock with Wizzard. He would also work with Renaissance’s Annie Haslam with the release of her first solo album on the production side with Annie in Wonderland in 1977. Jeff would later achieve success with the Electric Light Orchestra and as a producer with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, George Harrison, and he would later be with The Travelling Wilburys, and his dream of working the Beatles on their 2-CD set Anthology's 1 & 2 on the tracks Free as a Bird and Real Love.
The Move never got the recognition they deserve. While they were way ahead of their time, they created magic from the singles, albums, and the psych, glam, and prog styles showed that they were powerful, energetic, and raw. Looking On shows the adventures of the sounds of the Progressive Rock genre and it still sounds heavier and in your face 46 years later.