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The Move

The Move were one of the leading British rock bands of the 1960s from Birmingham, England, and were among the most popular British bands to not find any success in the US.

The Move were led by guitarist, singer and songwriter Roy Wood (although Chris "Ace" Kefford was their original leader), who composed all the group's UK singles and from 1968 also sang lead vocal on many of them (although Carl Wayne was their lead singer). They were extremely successful in Britain in their early career, scoring nine Top 20 UK singles in five years, but they were not as well known in the United States, mainly because they did not tour there until the latter part of their career. Nevertheless, they have been credited as an influence on many later groups on both sides of the Atlantic.

The group evolved from several mid 1960s Birmingham based groups, including Carl Wayne and the Vikings, the Nightriders and the Mayfair Set. Strongly influenced by The Beatles, Motown and the emerging American 'West Coast' sound, The Move quickly established a reputation as one of the most accomplished and exciting live acts of the period. The group's name seems to refer to the move various members of these bands made to form the group. Beside Wood, the original members of The Move in 1966 were drummer Bev Bevan, bassist Chris "Ace" Kefford, vocalist Carl Wayne and guitarist Trevor Burton. The concluding members in 1972 were the trio of Wood, Bevan and guitarist-pianist Jeff Lynne, who is commonly credited with transitioning the group into The Electric Light Orchestra.

History

Their early career was marked by a series of publicity stunts, high-profile media events and outrageous stage antics masterminded by their manager, the flamboyant Tony Secunda, such as Wayne's taking an axe to television sets, Cadillacs and busts of Adolf Hitler and Rhodesian leader Ian Smith. They played their first shows in early 1966, and became known for their elaborate vocal arrangements, and for their taste in soul music, and American West Coast bands The Beach Boys, the Byrds, Love and Moby Grape. Their manager, Secunda (who also managed Birmingham's other major pop group of the day, The Moody Blues), got them a weekly residency at London's Marquee Club which had recently been vacated by The Who where they appeared dressed in gangster regalia, however the band members reportedly remained resident in the Midlands. They secured a production contract with independent record producer Denny Cordell (Joe Cocker, Procol Harum) but even this was turned into a media event by Secunda, who famously arranged for the band to sign their contracts on the back of a topless female model. Roy Wood wrote their first single, "Night of Fear", a Number 2 hit in the UK singles chart in January 1967 which began the Move's practice of musical quotation (in this case, the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky). Their second single, "I Can Hear the Grass Grow", was another major hit, reaching Number 5 in the UK.

Legal issues

"Flowers in the Rain" was the first track played on Radio 1 when it began broadcasting on 30 September 1967, introduced by Tony Blackburn. The song, which reached Number 2, was less guitar-oriented than their previous two singles, and featured an inventive woodwind arrangement by producer Tony Visconti.

The promotional campaign for the song generated enormous controversy after Secunda produced a cartoon postcard to promote the single showing the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Harold Wilson, in bed with his secretary, Marcia Williams, with whom he was allegedly having an affair. Wilson sued The Move for libel. The group lost the court case and had to pay all costs, with all royalties earned by the song, which otherwise would have belonged to composer Roy Wood, being awarded to charities of Wilson's choice, a ruling which has remained in force even after Wilson's death in 1995.

For their fourth single, the group had planned to release "Cherry Blossom Clinic", a lighthearted song about the fantasies of a patient in a mental institution, backed by the satirical "Vote For Me". However, The Move had been thoroughly unnerved by their court experiences; they and the record company felt it unwise to pursue such a potentially controversial idea, and the single was shelved. "Vote For Me" remained unreleased until it began to appear on retrospective collections from 1997 onwards, while "Cherry Blossom Clinic" became one of the tracks on their first LP, also called The Move.

As a direct consequence of the lawsuit fiasco, The Move fired Tony Secunda as manager and hired Don Arden. In a 2000 interview, Carl Wayne noted that there had always been a major split within the group about Secunda's tactics: "[Secunda] had the animals who would do what he wanted to do in Trevor, Ace, and me – the fiery part of the stage act. I think Roy would obviously qualify this himself, but I believe he was slightly embarrassed by the image and the stunts – but the rest of us weren’t.... We were always willing to be Secunda puppets.

Continued success

In March 1968 they returned to the charts in style with "Fire Brigade", another UK top three hit, and the first on which Roy Wood sang lead vocal. But a few weeks later, around the time of the LP's release, Kefford left the band due to increasing personal and musical differences and formed his own group, the Ace Kefford Stand, with Cozy Powell on drums. The Move became a four-piece, with Burton switching to bass.

It was also during this line-up transition that the band first invited Jeff Lynne, a friend of Wood's, to join. He declined at the time, still working toward success in his current band the Idle Race, another Birmingham based group.

In mid-1968 their fifth single "Wild Tiger Woman", a much heavier song acknowledging the group's love of Jimi Hendrix (Wood and Burton sang backing vocals on "You've Got Me Floating", on the Jimi Hendrix Experience's second album, Axis: Bold as Love), sold poorly and failed to make the top 50, a disaster as it followed four top five hits. The Move responded with their most commercial number yet, the evergreen "Blackberry Way" (produced by Jimmy Miller), which topped the UK chart in February 1969.

This new, more easy-listening musical direction was the last straw for the increasingly disenchanted Burton, who wanted to work in a more hard rock/blues oriented style, and he left the group after an altercation on stage one evening with Bev Bevan. At around this time it was rumoured in the music press that Hank Marvin of the recently disbanded Shadows had been invited to join The Move. Some years later Wayne said that this was nothing more than a publicity stunt; however, Marvin himself, in an article in Melody Maker in 1973 and elsewhere, has maintained that he was definitely approached by Wood and invited to join The Move, but declined because The Move's schedule was too hectic for him. Burton was ultimately replaced by Rick Price, another veteran of several Birmingham rock groups.

Ace Kefford and Trevor Burton struggled commercially after leaving The Move. Kefford recorded a solo album in 1968 after his departure, but it remained unreleased until 2003 when it appeared as "Ace The Face". Burton played bass with yet another Birmingham group, The Steve Gibbons Band, and later fronted his own blues group as lead guitarist.

During this period Arden sold The Move's management contract to Peter Walsh. Walsh, who specialized in cabaret acts, began booking the band into cabaret-style venues unsuitable for "power pop" rockers such as The Move, which further increased the tension between band leaders Carl Wayne and Roy Wood.

1970's Shazam continued The Move's practice of musical quotation and of elaborately re-arranged versions of other performer's songs. "Hello Susie" (a Roy Wood composition), which was a top five hit for Amen Corner in 1969, quotes Booker T. Jones' and Eddie Floyd's "Big Bird," and the album includes a cover of a Tom Paxton song, "The Last Thing on My Mind". It also included a slightly slower remake of "Cherry Blossom Clinic" that began in with a proto-metallic grind and finished with an acoustic guitar-dominated extended quotation from Johann Sebastian Bach's "Joy".

According to a 2000 interview, Wayne had devised a plan to revive The Move's fortunes by bringing Burton and Kefford back in. Well aware that Wood was intent on setting up his new orchestral rock project (which eventually became ELO), he suggested that Wood could concentrate on performing with his new band while continuing to write songs for The Move. However his suggestion was bluntly rejected by Wood, Bevan and Price, the other three members, so Wayne finally quit the group in January 1970. He subsequently worked in a variety of musical ventures and appeared on TV and radio. In 2000 he replaced Allan Clarke as lead singer of The Hollies and performed with them as lead singer until his untimely death from cancer in 2004.

New directions

Upon Wayne's departure, The Move promptly jettisoned Walsh as manager and returned to Arden. Jeff Lynne joined for good, as Wood realized that he needed a second composer in the band to relieve the pressure on himself, and the band toured England with Arden's Black Sabbath. From this period came the hard-rocking third album Looking On (1970), with all songs composed by Wood except for two by Lynne and one Bevan-penned track, "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues". The album included a #7 hit, Wood's "Brontosaurus", which was the band's last recording for Regal Zonophone, but its harder-rock focus came as a surprise to many longtime fans. The second single from the album, "When Alice Comes Back to the Farm," failed to chart.

During the lengthy recording sessions for the next album, which included continuous overdubbing of new instruments by Wood and Lynne while the rest of the group idled, Rick Price left to form the band Mongrel, Price later joined Wood in Wizzard, and the shortlived Roy Wood's Wizzo Band, playing steel guitar for the latter, then went to work in musical management, and also formed the duo Price and Lee with Dianne Lee formerly of the duo Peters and Lee. The remaining members -- Wood, Lynne and Bevan -- completed the final Move LP, the eclectic Message From The Country (1971). Lynne's compositions displayed a strong Beatles and Bee Gees influence. Wood's "Ben Crawley Steel Company" featured a Bev Bevan lead vocal that was obviously modeled on Johnny Cash, while Bevan's "Don't Mess Me Up" (sung by Wood) paid homage to Elvis Presley, complete with fake Jordanaires. In 2005 Bevan referred to this album as his least favorite from The Move.

The album was followed by two more Wood-penned hit singles, "Tonight" and "Chinatown". For several television appearances behind these songs, The Move added two musicians who became members of the group after its transition into ELO: Bill Hunt (horns, winds, piano) and Richard Tandy (guitar, bass).

Final movements

As the release of the first Electric Light Orchestra album drew near, The Move released what turned out to be a farewell disc, a "maxi-single" in 1972 consisting of "California Man", "Ella James" (from Message), and "Do Ya." "California Man", a Number 7 UK hit featuring baritone saxophones, a double bass, and a riff borrowed from George Gershwin, was an affectionate tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis (the double bass had "Killer," Lewis' nickname, written on it) with Lynne and Wood trading verses and lines. It was one of the first records to kick off the 1950s rock and roll revival in the early 1970s in Britain. Like all UK Move hits, it was a Roy Wood composition. Meanwhile, Lynne's "Do Ya" became the Move's best-known song in the U.S.; it was The Move's only song to reach the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, if only the lower rungs (#93). (The Electric Light Orchestra's remake of "Do Ya," recorded after Wood's departure, was a significant US hit in 1977).

With the release of the album The Electric Light Orchestra, The Move completed its transition into ELO. Wood and Lynne were joint leaders; it was Wood who played many of the album's classical instruments (such as cello and flute), with Lynne on piano, and articles of the time discussing the new group noted how Wood would repeatedly overdub until he had become more familiar with each instrument. The group recruited new musicians to recreate their sound live, retaining the Move trio at the center, and started recording tracks for a second album.

But after several disappointing live performances and growing disagreements about musical direction, Wood decided to leave and form his own band, catching Lynne by surprise. Wood's aspirations to combine rock and jazz elements, incorporating saxophone players such as himself, seemed at odds with the group's experimental classical style and Lynne's desire to keep touring until the band jelled. Of the eleven ELO songs recorded by both Wood and Lynne, seven were Lynne compositions, which may also have contributed to Wood's unrest.

Wood released a solo album in 1973, Boulders, and went on to front the glam rock band Wizzard, while Lynne and Bevan kept touring and finally achieved massive success with The Electric Light Orchestra.

Message from the Country, the band's highly acclaimed 1971 album, was remastered and released on the original labels, Harvest in the UK in 2005 and Capitol in the U.S. in 2006.

Although never as popular in the United States as they were in their native England, the Move were a seminal pop/rock group of the era, and are often cited as one of the main progenitors of power pop. Cheap Trick recorded a version of "California Man" on their Heaven Tonight LP, while Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols admitted that one of the guitar riffs on "God Save The Queen" was inspired by that on "Fire Brigade".

In 1997, the single "Feel Too Good" was featured on the soundtrack of the American movie Boogie Nights, and in 2006 the single "Do Ya" was featured on a U.S. TV commercial, giving The Move a long-overdue burst of success in America, which had been elusive during their existence.

Resurrection

In 2004, after the death of Carl Wayne, Bev Bevan formed The Bev Bevan Band, soon renamed as Bev Bevan's Move (without any other past members) to capitalize on The Move's continuing reputation and belated success. Bevan recruited bassist Phil Tree and former ELO Part II colleagues, guitarist Phil Bates and keyboard player Neil Lockwood, to play a set comprising mostly The Move classics on tour.

Roy Wood has expressed extreme displeasure at this development .

Former Move guitarist Trevor Burton joined the band on occasion during 2006 and joined permanently in 2007. Bates departed in July 2007 to rejoin ELO Part II, now renamed The Orchestra and was replaced with Gordon Healer. The Autumn 2007 tour is billed as "The Move featuring Trevor Burton and Bev Bevan".

Discography

(Note; despite their total lack of U.S. success, note that all singles and albums were issued in the U.S. except where marked +)

Singles

  • "Night of Fear" / "(The) Disturbance" - (January, 1967) - UK #2 (UK Deram/US Deram)
  • "I Can Hear the Grass Grow" / "Wave The Flag And Stop The Train" (April, 1967) - UK #5 (UK Deram/US Deram)
  • "Flowers in the Rain" / "(Here We Go Round The) Lemon Tree" (August, 1967) - UK #2 -- first record played on BBC Radio 1 (UK Regal Zonophone/US A&M)
  • "Fire Brigade" / "Walk Upon The Water" (February, 1968) - UK #3 (UK Regal Zonophone/US A&M)
  • "Wild Tiger Woman" / "Omnibus" (August, 1968) - UK #53 (UK Regal Zonophone/US + -no issue-)
  • "Something" / "Yellow Rainbow" (UK -no issue as an A side/US A&M)
  • "Blackberry Way" / "Something" (December, 1968) - UK #1 (UK Regal Zonophone/US A&M)
  • "Curly" / "This Time Tomorrow" (July, 1969) - UK #12 (UK Regal Zonophone/US A&M)
  • "Brontosaurus" / "Lightning Never Stikes Twice" (April, 1970) - UK #7 (UK Regal Zonophone/US A&M)
  • "When Alice Comes Back To The Farm" / "What?!?!" (October, 1970) (UK Fly/US + -no issue-)
  • "Ella James" / "No Time" (May, 1971) (UK Harvest -withdrawn-)
  • "Tonight" / "Don't Mess Me Up" (June, 1971) - UK #11 (UK Harvest/US Capitol)
  • "Chinatown" / "Down On The Bay" (October, 1971) - UK #23 (UK Harvest/US MGM -withdrawn- & US United Artists, both edited shorter versions of 'Chinatown")
  • "California Man" / "Do Ya" / "Ella James" (April, 1972) - UK #7 (UK Harvest/US United Artists "California Man" b/w "Do Ya" -the record was flipped to make "Do Ya" the top side)

Note: "Do Ya" (B-side of "California Man" single - 1972 US #93 Billboard Hot 100; 1974 UK; 1976 - rerecorded by ELO)

Extended Play

Albums

Bootleg Albums

  • Omnibus (c.1972)
  • Looking In (c.1992) - includes 15 Move tracks, 6 by Wizzard
  • Black Country Rock (c.1993) - later released officially as The BBC Sessions

Compilations

  • Split Ends (1972) (same as Great Move!, except omitting 'Ben Crawley Steel Company', 'Don't Mess Me Up' and 'My Marge')
  • The Best Of The Move (1974)
  • Great Move!: The Best Of The Move (1994) (same as Message reissue, except omitting alternate takes)
  • The BBC Sessions (1995)
  • Movements: 30th Anniversary Anthology (1997) (comprehensive collection through Looking On)

Lineup history

December 1965 - early 1968
  • Roy Wood: guitar, vocals
  • Bev Bevan: drums, vocals
  • Carl Wayne: vocals
  • Trevor Burton: guitar, vocals
  • Chris 'Ace' Kefford: bass

early 1968 - late 1968
  • Roy Wood: guitar, vocals
  • Bev Bevan: drums, vocals
  • Carl Wayne: vocals
  • Trevor Burton: bass, vocals

late 1968 - early 1970
  • Roy Wood: guitar, vocals
  • Bev Bevan: drums, vocals
  • Carl Wayne: vocals
  • Rick Price: bass

early 1970 - October 1971
  • Roy Wood: guitar, vocals
  • Bev Bevan: drums, vocals
  • Rick Price: bass
  • Jeff Lynne: guitar, piano, vocals

October 1971 - mid 1972
  • Roy Wood: guitar, vocals
  • Bev Bevan: drums, vocals
  • Jeff Lynne: guitar, piano, vocals
  • Bill Hunt: woodwind, horns, keyboards
  • Richard Tandy: bass, guitar

2004 - mid 2007
  • Bev Bevan: drums
  • Phil Bates: guitar, vocals
  • Neil Lockwood: keyboards, vocals
  • Phil Tree: bass, vocals
  • Trevor Burton: guitar, vocals (guest on some dates)

mid 2007 - date
  • Bev Bevan: drums
  • Gordon Healer: guitar, vocals
  • Neil Lockwood: keyboards, vocals
  • Phil Tree: bass, vocals
  • Trevor Burton: guitar, vocals

Cover versions of songs by The Move

  • A cover of "California Man" was released by Cheap Trick on their 1978 album Heaven Tonight. It features a quick snippet from "Brontosaurus" in the middle section. Nancy Sinatra also covered California Man.
  • A cover of "I Can Hear the Grass Grow" was released as a single by The Fall in 2005, and is also included on their album Fall Heads Roll. It was also recorded by Status Quo on the first of their cover versions albums, Don't Stop (1996). In addition, the song was recorded by New York psychedelic act, The Blues Magoos on their third LP, Basic Blues Magoos, released in 1968.
  • As an odd note, there is also a brief (uncredited) cover of "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" on Spirit guitarist Randy California's 1972 solo album Kapt. Kopter And The (Fabulous) Twirly-Birds. It appears at the end of the sixth track "Things Yet to Come", and is backwards and played at double-speed. Noel Redding is the vocalist.
  • "Fire Brigade" was released as a single by The Fortunes in the U.S. in 1968, in a vain attempt to compete with the original; neither version made the U.S. charts.
  • In addition to the 1969 No. 4 hit version by Amen Corner, "Hello Susie" was also recorded by British soul band Buddy Curtess and the Grasshoppers as a single in 1986.
  • "Do Ya" has been recorded by Todd Rundgren's Utopia, Ace Frehley and Forest.
  • "Flowers In The Rain" has been recorded by Nancy Sinatra and The Kaiser Chiefs.
  • "Blackberry Way" has been recorded in Italian by Equipe 84 with the title "Tutta Mia La Città".
  • "Ella James" has been recorded by The Nashville Teens.
  • "Brontosaurus" was later recorded by Cheap Trick and released in 1997 as a 7 inch vinyl single by Sub Pop Records. It was also included as a bonus CD single along with their 1997 album Cheap Trick.
  • Cheap Trick released a live version of "Down on the Bay" on the band's box set Sex, America, Cheap Trick in 1996.
  • Jellyfish performed an acoustic cover of "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" on "The Acoustic Sessions" on Australian radio station Triple J.

References

  • Guinness Book of British Hit Singles - 16th Edition - ISBN 0-85112-190-X
  • The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits - ISBN 0-85112-250-7
  • Guinness Book of British Hit Albums - 7th Edition - ISBN 0-85112-619-7
  • Guinness Rockopedia - ISBN 0-85112-072-5
  • The Great Rock Discography - 5th Edition - ISBN 1-84195-017-3

Notes

External links

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