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The Move - The Best of The Move CD (album) cover

THE BEST OF THE MOVE

The Move

 

Proto-Prog

2.14 | 3 ratings

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Chicapah
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Having reviewed all four of The Move's albums I feel an obligation to give a qualified opinion of this so- called "Best of" collection of tunes for those who might be tempted to travel that route. First of all, the fact that it contains 24 songs on one CD is not a bad deal. The sound quality is decent and there are a number of fine tracks included. But if you're interested mainly in the proto-prog aspect of this band I would be less than honest if I didn't recommend that you purchase any one of their last three studio albums first.

There are two distinct phases in the timeline of The Move's existence. The early Top 40 pop years of several hit singles and their amateurish debut LP obviously came first. The second and much more progressive chapter encompasses the "Shazam," "Looking On" and "Message From the Country" albums that are innovative and daringly eclectic. Unfortunately in this package over 60% of the material is from the first stage of their development so it leaves a lot to be desired. For some unknown reason there's not a single cut from the excellent "Shazam" album to be found and that's inexcusable. I've already given my assessment of 14 of these tracks inside the individual album reviews so I'd prefer not to repeat myself (and won't). If you're that curious they're available free of charge 24/7 on this very website. Here's what I think of the remaining ten:

"Night of Fear," written by the inexperienced and very green Roy Wood in 1966, shot to #2 on the British charts with its clever use of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and made the band an overnight sensation their first time out. It's not a bad tune at all but still very typical of the trendy chart-toppers of that era. Their next single, "I Can Hear the Grass Grow," is a much better song and I'll admit that it's a guilty pleasure of mine. This catchy ditty is quite representative of the trippy psychedelia that had invaded the airwaves in mid-1967 and its odd mix of rock and doo-wop helped to push it up to #5 in England. Perhaps it was the pressure to keep cranking out the hits or a case of too much fame too fast for the boys but those two songs are miles better than any of the tunes that appeared on their debut LP.

After that poor album failed miserably in the U.S. The Move went back to recording singles with the very pop-oriented "Wild Tiger Woman," a too-noisy, hard-rocking shuffle that nonetheless has some hot guitar licks from Roy. Their only #1 single follows, the much slower, folksy lilt of "Blackberry Way" with its campfire sing-along chorus and a cool, ELO-ish ooo-ahh bridge segment that predates that band by a good four years. It's a pretty good song that deserved its top-of-the-heap status. "Curly" is next and it is embarrassingly trite, featherweight bubblegum and the sprightly recorder flittering throughout doesn't do it any favors. This is Smurf music and should be banned.

Without a doubt the most listenable section of the CD comes on tracks 8 through 16, then it's back to the early singles again. (Doesn't make a lick of sense to me, either.) "Disturbance" takes you back to '66 for another slice of psychedelia with a bizarre and very tinny blend of the L.A. surf sound and the acid-rock of San Francisco. The weird freak-out at the end must have caused nightmares in small children. Drummer Bev Bevan has admitted that the inane fluff that is "Wave the Flag and Stop the Train" was a conscious attempt on the part of the group to imitate The Monkees. That's setting your sights pretty high there, boys. Good luck with that. "Omnibus" is pedestrian pop and not memorable in any way, shape or form. Skip it.

"Lightning Never Strikes Twice" is notable because it was the first recording that Jeff Lynne was a part of and one can't help hearing the improvement in engineering. It's not that great of a song but the acoustic guitars sound fat and the vocals are bigger and fuller. The sitar jam at the end comes straight out of the clear blue sky, though. Lastly there's a drowning-in-reverb, dubbed in Italian (the English version isn't any better) David Morgan song, "Something," that was evidently some kind of lost nugget they retrieved to include here as an "unreleased track." It features lead singer Carl Wayne doing his best Englebert Humperdink impression. Need I say more?

Proggers beware. This is not the "best" of The Move. Not by a long shot. This is for guys like me who occasionally derive some perverse enjoyment in hearing campy pop trash that Dr. Demento probably won't listen to. Take my advice. Buy albums two through four by this gifted but radically different band and you'll find out what the fuss was all about. Two stars because Repertoire Records was smart enough to include tracks 8-16.

Chicapah | 2/5 |

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