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The Move - Looking On CD (album) cover

LOOKING ON

The Move

 

Proto-Prog

4.10 | 49 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars The year 1970 was a busy one for THE MOVE who released not only one but two albums however in between their progressively tinged "Shazam" and their third album LOOKING ON, great changes had occurred that would take the band in completely new directions. Firstly, singer Carl Wayne departed (off to cabaret and soap opera glory) and in to take his place was none other than Jeff Lynne who contributed the much desired role as a second songwriter, a collaborative effort that Roy Wood had been seeking from THE MOVE's formation. Another major change was the band's move to Fly Records which found the band starting a new chapter of their existence. While THE MOVE had been one of Britain's prime hitmakers during the 60s, they never quite managed to strike it big outside their homeland's shores but with Jeff Lynne as co-pilot, the team was hoping to cast a wider net musically speaking and eventually expand their appeal. While cover songs had been a staple on the previous albums, because of Lynne's prolific songwriting nature, LOOKING ON is the first THE MOVE album of all originals.

Ironically as it turned out, Jeff Lynne was actually Wood's replacement in Nightriders after Wood jumped ship to form THE MOVE, so in a way Lynne already had a feel for Wood's style and fit into the band perfectly as the two shared many musical ambitions. Truth be known was the fact that Wood actually wanted to end THE MOVE and start a new band with Lynne right away that would expand the horizons of pop music and move it closer to orchestrated classical sophistication but due to record contract obligations, the two conjured up the material to keep THE MOVE floating along for another couple albums before they could finally be released from their contractual shackles and begin The Electric Light Orchestra. However, despite existing as THE MOVE, the arrival of Lynne showcases LOOKING ON as a sort of proto-ELO collection of tunes that exists in some strange limbo between the 60s move sound and snippets of ideas that would fully gestate into the later ELO projects. Much ELO material was actually written and held back during this period.

LOOKING ON is quite the diverse album and while not as epic as the prior "Shazam," still churned out seven cranking tunes that upped the hard rock aspects but also found nascent early ELO elements such as the medieval classical sounds of a cello, oboe and sax residing next to 60s psychedelic pop leftovers such as the sitar. Quite the eclectic album indeed. While the title track kicks off in heavy rock form which showcases the band's attunement with the new 70s trends, the track oddly morphs into a bizarre Indo-raga tune towards the end. Jeff Lynne's love of 50s rock and roll shines through like a beam of sunshine on tracks "When Alice Comes Back To The Farm" which has a rather Rolling Stones bluesy rock feel as well as their hit single "Brontosaurus" which utilized a clever mix of heavy rock'n'roll, slide guitar and honky tonk piano.

The peculiarly titled "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues" which channeled their best Eric Clapton led Cream exhibited healthy doses of a strangely incongruous sitar and sultry sax solo whereas "What?" sounds a lot like the proto-makings of the following year's "Mr Radio" which would appear on the debut ELO album. Strewn all throughout LOOKING ON are tinklings of "Roll Over Beethoven" rock'n'roll riffs threaten to break in but never quite gestate completely. "Open Up Said The World At The Door" carries on where "Shazam" left off with an intricately designed mix of clever melodies, creative counterpoints and beautiful vocal harmonies that proved Lynne was the ultimate collaborator for Wood's similar musical visions and a veritable vocalist in his own right. Also on the work table, Lynne and Wood would create the much loved "10538 Overture" but held it back to be included on the future ELO project.

The ending track utilizes a rather Clapton-esque "I Shot The Sheriff" guitar riff but with a funky soul type of vocal style accompanied by a stomping groovy beat. After a few verses and choruses the track drifts off into a serious jam with guitar soloing with soulful Jackson Five type vocals and finally ends after eight minutes with a few breaks. One morphs into a Beach Boys styled barbershop choir that kinda sounds like "Barbara Ann" and then finally shifts into a piano roll with some British bloke blathering on about something or rather. While THE MOVE only released a mere four albums in their career, each one is completely different and LOOKING ON has its own distinct personality as well. Due to Lynne's contributions the album really sounds a million miles away from the "Shazam" album that was released only months prior. Somehow i acquired a taste for this band and each album stands up on its own merit. LOOKING ON is no exception to this for it is yet another strong batch of progressive pop tracks that provides also provides an interesting context to ELO's early history as well as just being a really creatively cool album in its own right.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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