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The Move - Message From the Country CD (album) cover

MESSAGE FROM THE COUNTRY

The Move

 

Proto-Prog

3.37 | 22 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Now a trio, but soon to be an orchestra

Having spent virtually their entire existence on the Regal Zonophone (and its subsequent names) label, The Move moved to Harvest for their fourth and final album plus three singles. This was primarily due to Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne's preoccupation with their Electric Light Orchestra project, the Move's being kept alive only due to delays in implementing ELO. Indeed, the lines between The Move and ELO became even more blurred, with recording sessions including songs destined for both bands. By this time, the Move were down to a core trio (bassist Rick Price left during the recording of the album, with Wood re-recording the bass parts), the third member being drummer Bev Bevan.

"Message from the country" was released in the same year as the previous "Looking on", that album having been virtually ignored by the record label, the pundits and the fans alike. "Message.." fared little better, being rapidly swallowed up by the hype surrounding the launch of ELO in 1972.

"Message.." was the first album not to contain any hit singles whatsoever, although the band did release the song "Tonight"* separately around the same time. While up to this point each Move album had demonstrated significant progress from the last, this final album saw the band at best standing still, and perhaps even regressing. That in itself is not a bad thing, as they had made fine music throughout their career. "Message from the country" may have been a deliberate effort, especially by Wood, to make an album which was not ELO. Songs such as "Ella James" are heavy pop rock numbers with a particular emphasis on the lead guitar riff. Jeff Lynne on the other hand appears to have been far more inclined to approach both projects in the same way. "No time" could have been lifted from either ELO's first album, or with a bit more orchestration, from "Eldorado". Lynne's Beatles sympathies are displayed loud and clear, the floating sounds of the whistle adding a suitably psychedelic atmosphere.

The distinction between the songs of Wood and those of Lynne is far more noticeable here than anywhere else, including the first ELO album. Lynne's "The words of Aaron" for example has little in common with anything Wood ever wrote for the Move, although it does offer an early pointer towards the immediate post-Wood ELO albums. The title track, also written by Lynne, could have featured on albums such as "ELO2" or "On the third day", while offering something a little closer to the adventurous proto-prog of the Move's previous pair of albums.

We reach something of a low point with "Don't mess me up", an unashamed Elvis impersonation (by Bevan) which for me simply indicates that the guys were saving their best material for ELO. "Until your moma's gone" shares the same lack of imagination; it is highly unlikely that such an ordinary song would have made it onto any of the preceding albums.

While "Message from the country" does contain some good material, it is an album by a band being pulled in many directions. Wood and Lynne seem at odds with each other on the direction they want to take, while both are simultaneously trying to keep the spirit of The Move alive. With the major distraction of the concurrent ELO debut occupying their minds it is understandable that this album should have the feel of a contractual obligation. For some, this was the band's best album, for me it is a decent, but no more, end to the band's short life.

* "Tonight" reach number 11 in the UK chart. It was followed by the minor hit "Chinatown" then the Move's final single, "California Man" which broke into the top 10. "California man" was much more an indication of the way Wood would go after leaving ELO in both solo terms and with Wizzard. These songs are all included on the expanded CD version of this album.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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