Proto-Prog • United Kingdom

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The Move biography
Cut from the same cloth as an array of other bands that blossomed from the fertile English musical soil in the mid-to-late 60s, THE MOVE conquered the British airwaves with a score of top ten singles, one after another. Their trendy psychedelic pop approach allowed them to maintain a high level of success in their own country for almost half a decade. However, unlike groups such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Kinks they were still relatively unknown to foreign audiences. It wasn't until their arresting and decidedly un-commercial LP entitled "Shazam!" (released in early 1970) that overseas reviewers took notice and enthusiastically raved about their eclectic, devil-may-care approach to making records. Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Roy Wood had been the principal songwriter and sole creative genius behind the band from the beginning but when lead singer Carl Wayne quit soon after that album hit the racks the equally talented Jeff Lynne was brought into the fold, bringing not only an ideological upgrade but a new, progressive dimension to their sound.

While never overlooking the importance of strong melodies, they shunned accepted arrangement formulas and developed a unique style all their own that defies easy labeling to this day. In the process of building a solid, driving hard rock ambience featuring up-front, layered guitars they were also liable to throw in anything they could lay their hands on whether it was an oboe, a sitar or some strange hybrid instrument they invented themselves. There's a rare aura of unbridled, "anything goes" enthusiasm surrounding the studio efforts of the Wood/Lynne era in particular that challenged the status quo while surprising and delighting their fans worldwide. Perhaps that capricious attitude stems from THE MOVE having become a financial means-to-an-end as Roy and Jeff were in the process of developing their "serious" project, The Electric Light Orchestra. When that new endeavor was launched at the end of 1971 THE MOVE came to a quiet, unceremonious end but their incredibly quirky and always unpredictable mix of rock, jazz, pop, folk and classical influences will live on in prog history.

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The Move, 1968 (UK Regal Zonophone/US -no issue-)
Shazam, 1970 (UK Regal Zonophone/US A&M)
Looking On, ...
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The Move official website

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THE MOVE Videos (YouTube and more)

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Buy THE MOVE Music

Message From the CountryMessage From the Country
Parlophone 2005
Audio CD$6.92
$6.47 (used)
Live at FillmoreLive at Fillmore
Right Recordings 2012
Audio CD$9.80
$12.50 (used)
BBC SessionsBBC Sessions
Strange Fruit UK 1998
Audio CD$39.99 (used)
Lost BroadcastsLost Broadcasts
Widescreen · Import
Ais 2012
$19.69 (used)
Best ofBest of
Repertoire 1997
Audio CD$39.99
$14.49 (used)
Repertoire (Ger) 1994
Audio CD$27.98
$16.50 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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THE MOVE shows & tickets

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THE MOVE discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THE MOVE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.83 | 19 ratings
The Move
3.64 | 28 ratings
4.17 | 32 ratings
Looking On
3.42 | 23 ratings
Message From the Country

THE MOVE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 3 ratings
Live at the Fillmore 1969

THE MOVE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

THE MOVE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Fire Brigade
3.00 | 3 ratings
California Man
2.14 | 3 ratings
The Best of The Move
4.09 | 4 ratings
Movements, 30th Anniversary Anthology
4.00 | 2 ratings
Looking Back, The Best of The Move
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Very Best Of The Move

THE MOVE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 3 ratings
Something Else From The Move

THE MOVE Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Live at the Fillmore 1969 by MOVE, THE album cover Live, 2012
4.00 | 3 ratings

Live at the Fillmore 1969
The Move Proto-Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams

4 stars A combination of bad luck and bad timing kept The Move from becoming a household name in America in the late 1960s. Having lit up the British charts for much of 1967 with their incredible run of singles ("Night of Fear", "I Can Hear the Grass Grow", and "Flowers in the Rain", just to name three), The Move's long-awaited debut album (entitled Move) suffered some unfortunate delays and was not released until well into 1968, which unfortunately places them in the "followers" bin of history. This, combined with a volatile band lineup, greatly hurt the momentum The Move had achieved in 1967. Their follow-up album, Shazam, would not be released until 1970, and it seemed for a while as if their opportunity to take the world by storm had passed, as the pop music landscape had changed immeasurably since 1967, with psychedelic pop tossed aside in favor of the heavy sounds of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

The Move were never a band to stand still, though. One listen to even their debut album shows a band with an unusually high level of eclecticism. And by 1969, as they were planning their second album, they had evolved further into something approaching heavy prog-rock. And so our heroes set sail for America for the first (and last) time, to play a few select concerts, one of these at the legendary Fillmore West Auditorium in San Francisco. The event was recorded for posterity, and was finally cleaned up and seen fit for release in 2012.

Now on with the show: the material consists primarily of the songs which would soon appear on Shazam, plus a few well chosen covers. As is the case on Shazam, the material is performed loudly and loosely, stretching songs out beyond the six minute mark. Carl Wayne's performance on lead vocals was the biggest surprise. The Move has always been remembered as Roy Wood and (later) Jeff Lynne's pre-ELO band, but few remember Wayne, who really shines here and makes a strong case to be considered along with the strongest rock front-men of the era. As for Roy Wood, he delivers some serious thunder on the guitar, and frequently performs harmony vocals accompanying Wayne. Drummer Bev Bevan gives a hard-pounding performance on the drums, coming somewhere between Keith Moon and John Bonham. New member Rick Price, on bass, plays complex bass lines that essentially make up for the lack of a second guitarist (which they had had on their debut album).

"Open My Eyes", the now-classic Nazz song, opens the show with a total bang. This then dives into the slow heavy blues of Frankie Laine's "Don't Make My Baby Blue" and a re-thought version of their debut album track "Cherry Blossom Clinic (Revisited)", played slower and heavier and incorporating a very prog-like rock band adaptation of classical melodies in the coda. "The Last Thing on My Mind" (another cover!) continues the set with a mellow ballad played with an Eastern-drone sensibility. Then there's their second UK hit single "I Can Hear the Grass Grow", played with gusto and extended to 10 minutes incorporating a drum solo.

The set continues with "Fields of People", an obscure contemporary flower-power song by Ars Nova, again re-imagined as a powerful psychedelic rocker which is probably my favorite Move song. This version stretches out even more than the Shazam version, with Wood elongating the long instrumental section at the end that features a strange guitar fashioned out of a banjo and a Turkish saz. "Goin' Back" is yet another cover, a laid back soul rocker, and "Hello Suzie" is a Wood original that is probably the heaviest the Move ever got, with Wood taking the lead vocal and practically screaming the whole song. "Under the Ice" (I believe ANOTHER Nazz cover) finishes the set with 14 more minutes of rockin' soul. The second disc closes out with alternate live versions of three of the songs, plus a ten minute interview with Bev Bevan, recalling the 1969 US tour.

Bottom line: this is one of the few surviving documents of The Move in a concert setting, and although it's not a pristine recording, it's very listenable, with clear vocals throughout and reasonably clear stage sound. The difference between their debut album and this live performance is comparable to, say, hearing "The Who Sell Out" and then jumping to "Live at Leeds" - quite an eye opener. And for fans like me who love the Shazam album, this functions well as an alternate document of the band during that period - as good as Shazam is, it does feel a little stifled by the LP format, whereas this show feels no boundaries as the band just lets it fly for over 90 minutes. Excellent archival find.


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 Shazam by MOVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.64 | 28 ratings

The Move Proto-Prog

Review by tabintheocean

4 stars For me, Shazam is one of those records that you stick with the second you've heard it thru and thru. My first listen, which was just over a year ago, left me with the feeling that this has great potential, but that it was a bit banal at that. Second listen convinced me that the musicianship here is without question, and the hodgepodge of styles furthermore convinced me that this indeed does deserve a spot on the progarchives.com site. I understand that The Move is somehow an acquired taste - Roy Wood's vocals are not to everybody's liking and, if caught in the wrong environment, they could seem like mere Beatles-rip offs/60's pop twaddle.

But is it really "prog"? Not in the popular sense. Nevertheless, though we're only getting 6 songs, of which 3 are covers and 1 had been included on their first album (albeit in a more ballsy, less poppy, psychedelic version here) we're still taken through numerous musical atmospheres. The opening chords of "Hello Susie" really kicks off this album with a bang, the thundering drum sound makes Bev Bevan sound like a monster (though his ELO work is more reserved and standard) and the bass - oh, the bass! Excellent sound here. "Beautiful Daughter" to me has always sounded like the lost Beatles single of 1966, sandwiched between Eleanor Rigby and Strawberry Fields. Great, short song. Very pop, very distinguished string section. I like it. The send-up of good old "Cherry Blossom Clinic" was my favorite from this album for a while, and the only song I listened to from this album. There's so much energy, wild, frenzied guitars that comply just fine with the lunatic lyric. The acoustic "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" piece that finishes off the song is equally bonkers.

Side two opens with "Fields of People", a typical flower-power type song anno 1968, originally by Ars Nova, an American group. Roy Wood always had a hang for the psychedelia/West Coast hippie scene back in the day, and it shows. The version here is excellent, at 11 minutes it gets ludicrous near the end, but I think it's fine all the way through. We get a folk-like atmosphere, crystal clear and crisp vocals from Carl Wayne who sounds as if he's in a jolly mood (mind you, he recorded his vocals outside on Gt. Portland Street, it seems) - followed by the chorus which has a Byrds-like harmony section. The second half of the song is reserved to a frenzied sitar solo. We're then blown into the world of hard rock Move once more, with their stunning cover of "Don't Make My Baby Blue". This is pure hard rock fare, great solos, pounding drums and again, excellent bass. The album closes off with "The Last Thing on My Mind", an excellent farewell to this incarnation of the band which still had Carl Wayne, 7 minutes and 35 seconds of pure, psychedelic hard country rock bliss.

In between 4 out of 6 tracks we get spoken interludes: Various interviews with people on the street, East End taxi drivers and so on, their opinion on pop music. Very sixties. They predated the Floyd with their Dark Side questions by 3 years! Little known fact indeed.

I recently acquired a vinyl copy of this, the American vinyl repress from A&M, 1982. The sound is exquisite, and really makes my speakers bounce. It's fantastic. I also own the 2007 CD, which is still good to have though the vinyl has much more substance. The CD bonus tracks also includes their 1968/69 singles and studio demos. I'm very fond of the Wild Tiger Woman b/w Omnibus single, cannot understand it didn't hit harder and also "This Time Tomorrow", sung by Rick Price. Just excellent. Sounds to me like an acoustic track the Beatles lost between A Hard Day's Night and Beatles for Sale. Carl Wayne belts out some fair blue-eyed soul on "A Certain Something" as well.

5 stars from me, personally, and as a fan of both the group and progressive rock. I have, however, put 4 in my review as it is not directly a masterpiece of progressive rock music, but merely an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection. It really is. You can't go wrong with Shazam.


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 Message From the Country by MOVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.42 | 23 ratings

Message From the Country
The Move Proto-Prog

Review by mohaveman

3 stars As a longtime fan of early Electric Light Orchestra, I have decided to work my way through the catalog of their precurser band, The Move. The first disc I have chosen is MESSAGE FROM THE COUNTRY, which bears the most resemblance with NO ANSWER the first ELO release. There are 4 great tunes here. "Message From the Country", "It wasn't my idea to Dance", "The Words of Aaron" , and "No Time". All are Jeff Lynne numbers which I guess explains why I like them. The Roy Wood songs are more of a mixed bag with rock, pop, and even Johnny Cash ripoffs to boot. Nothing special among them. Lynne saves this album and shows the beginning of his songwriting talent. Any of his tunes here could have easily fit in on the first 2 ELO records. However, they only bring this to a good but not great release. 3 stars


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 Looking On by MOVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.17 | 32 ratings

Looking On
The Move Proto-Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Though by no means a bona-fida Progressive rock band, The Move's third album, 'Looking On', was very much a part of the first wave of great prog albums that appeared in the early- seventies. Hailing from Birmingham, and featuring future stars Roy Wood(Wizzard) and Jeff Lynne(Electric Light Orchestra, The Travelling Wilbury's) amongst their ranks, The Move were primarily known for their clever brand of deceptively-kitsch proto-psychedelic pop, as was shown on their 1968 debut 'Move' and it's sharper, fuller follow-up of two years later 'Shazaam'. They also had a knack for releasing popular psych-pop singles, with tunes such as 'Blackberry Way', 'Night Of Fear', 'Flowers In The Rain', 'I Can Hear The Grass Grow' and 'Fire Brigade' all reaching the top five of the British charts between the years 1966 and 1969, reflecting their genesis within the brief psychedelic boom of the late-sixties. However, as the seventies and prog-rock arrived, The Move's outlook - much like their name suggests - was radically altered, with the group sporting a harder, complex new sound. Within the paradigms of prog, Wood's musical and instrumental excellence was exploited to it's fullest, fuelling 'Looking On's reckless invention and summing up the albums occasional moments of pure brilliance. The crushingly-heavy 'Brontosaurus' is an immediate welcome to The Move's updated sound, as proto-metal guitars groan away under the pure weight of the meatiest riff one could hope to hear. It's a drastic, powerful start that burns bright with fiendish invention - the group's trademark affectation - but one that almost single-handedly completes the group's sonic overhaul. The raw and bluesy 'Turkish Tram Conductor Blues' is a more jocular affair, shuddering guitars still up front, but one that melds their peculiar pop nous with their sterner sonic design in a brash, sweaty rock 'n' roll style that hints at Steamhammer-sized aspirations. The album's crowning jewel? The epic, soul-inflected prog-soul rocker 'Feel Too Good', a truly marvellous rock medley featuring a driving, funk-fried bass-line, twitching guitars, bar-room keyboards, bleat-horns, flugel-horns, french-horns and whatever other horns and instruments Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne could get their hands on at the time. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2011


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 The Move by MOVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
2.83 | 19 ratings

The Move
The Move Proto-Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars The Move is the self-titled full-length studio album by UK rock act The Move. I have a 2007, 2 disc version where disc 1 contains the original album plus some single only songs and disc 2 contains a stereo version of the album. The Move features among others Roy Wood and Bev Bevan who would later be members of Electric Light Orchestra.

I was listening to the album yesterday and my parents came to visit so I asked my father if he knew The Move ( I had never heard about the band before finding them on PA) and he said sure. He was even able to hum a few of the songs from this album and I bet itīs about 35 - 40 years since he heard those songs the last time. That must be some indication that the music on the album has a lasting quality but actually that was not my first impression or my last to be honest ( sorry Dad). The music is not very original and considering that the album was recorded in 1967 and released in 1968 I expected much more. The music on this album sounds more like it was released in 1964 or maybe 1965. Mostly uptempo beat rooted in rīnīb, strict vers/ chorus formulaic structures and a strong emphasis on vocals. The instrumental side of the music plays second fiddle to the vocals. The many harmony vocals on the album are actually quite impressive but this was not an unusual feature in those days. The songs donīt stand out much from each other but the doo wop song Zing! Went the Strings of my Heart, which is kind of silly, and the slightly interesting Mist on a Monday Morning were songs that I noticed.

The production allright but nothing special.

The Move isnīt the most exciting album from 1968 and it sounds like The Move came a few years too late with this release. Itīs not obnoxious or anything like that and a 2.5 - 3 star rating is not wrong IMO.


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 California Man by MOVE, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1974
3.00 | 3 ratings

California Man
The Move Proto-Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars The final Move

The Move spent virtually all of their 4 years or so signed to the Regal Zonophone label, only moving to Harvest records for their final album and three singles. For the entire time they were signed to Harvest (in 1971), the now trio were also working hard on launching the Electric Light Orchestra. Almost all of The Move compilations which are available therefore exclude the band's work for Harvest. While such an omission is not a disaster, it does mean that the whole story is not told. The final three singles (Tonight", "Chinatown" and "California man") were solid if unremarkable Move songs which retained the same magic which had seen the band enjoy a run of hits in the late 1960's and early 1970's. All three gained singles chart success, and all three are included here along with their respective B-sides.

The most interesting of the B-sides is and early version of Jeff Lynne's "Do ya" a song he would revive and improve greatly with ELO. It is though the tracks from their only album for Harvest, "Message from the country", which are perhaps of greatest interest. The best way to obtain those tracks is of course to obtain the album, and indeed this entire compilation is swallowed up by the expanded CD reissue of it. For a long time though, this budget label LP offered a cost effective way of obtaining a significant portion of the album plus the singles from the period.

For me, the band's final album saw them treading water and even regressing. The tell-tale sign here is that the songs extracted for this compilation sit well beside the singles, something which could never be said for the majority of tracks on "Shazam" or "Looking on". The album was not a disaster by any means though, and Jeff Lynne songs such as "The words of Aaron" and "No time" are tantalising glimpses of the direction he would take ELO in after Wood left. Wood's songs actually do likewise to some extent, hinting at the style of his solo projects and Wizzard albums to come.

At the time of its release on LP, "California Man" offered a useful summary of the final days of the Move. With the advent of the CD, and the appearance of the expanded "Message from the country" album it is now superfluous other than as something for avid collectors to seek out.


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 Looking Back, The Best of The Move by MOVE, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
4.00 | 2 ratings

Looking Back, The Best of The Move
The Move Proto-Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Half the story, well told

For whatever reason, The Move's back catalogue has not been subject to the same level of plundering for CD compilations as that of many of their peers. In view of their huge success as a singles band, this does seem rather strange. This 21 track compilation released in 1998 offers a decent summary of most of their career, omitting only their brief time on Harvest Records prior to becoming the Electric Light Orchestra.

The collection focuses on the band's singles, most of which did not actually appear on their three albums for Regal Zonophone. The segregation of songs for singles and albums effectively led to the band simultaneously following two parallel courses. While the singles remained rooted in Beatlesque pop, the albums developed from the psychedelic west coast pop of the self titled debut to the proto-prog heavy rock of "Looking on".

Every single released by the band in the UK between 1967 and 1970 is here, including "Blackberry way", "Night of fear" and "I can hear the grass grow", none of which made it to an album. Also appearing are the great "Fire brigade", "Brontosaurus" and "Flowers in the rain". Most of the B-sides also make it, although "Vote for me", the B-side of the aborted "Cherry blossom clinic", is missing. Of those B-side, the quasi-symphonic "Something" stands out especially.

A few of the more commercial album tracks are used to fill up the disc, rather predictably including "Hello Suzie" and "Beautiful daughter"; these are fine songs though. Only the final two tracks here will raise any eyebrows for those who know The Move only by their singles. The 7+ minute "Looking on" and the 9― minute "Feel too good" are both taken from the "Looking on" album. They offer a fine indication of the proto-prog which made up the second and third albums.

In all, a great way to obtain the band's singles catalogue, bar the final two or three recorded for Harvest. Do not however make the mistake of assuming this is all the Move you need to know. The only way to really discover the band is through their studio albums.


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 Fire Brigade by MOVE, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1972
4.00 | 2 ratings

Fire Brigade
The Move Proto-Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Music for pleasure

The Move will always be remembered for the wonderful hit singles they released in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Those songs however only tell a part of the story, as their albums, with the exception of their self titled debut, were entirely different affairs. Like many bands in the 1960's, notably The Beatles, The Move avoided ripping off fans by including songs on their albums which had appeared as single A or B sides. This noble gesture however made it harder to obtain the singles gathered together in LP format. The "Greatest hits" and "Best of" collections which flood the market these days were much rarer back then, and generally only used to fulfil contractual obligations.

Thankfully, in 1972, the budget label Music For Pleasure gained permission to compile most of The Moves singles plus some early album tracks and release them as this fine collection. Selling for less than a pound at the time, "Fire brigade" contains now fewer than five top 20 singles plus a number of others which were released or considered for release as singles but did not chart. The collection focuses on the band's time with the Regal Zonophone label, so their final few months with Harvest is not covered. Missing too are the earliest singles such as "Night of fear" and "I can hear the grass grow".

The great thing about the Move's singles is that they are just that, Great! From the flower power of the first song played on BBC's radio 1 ("Flowers in the rain") through the Beatlesque "Blackberry Way" (sometimes cited as a twin of "Penny Lane") to the heavy metal of "Brontosaurus", we are taken on a musical journey through some of the finest pop of the period.

Admittedly there is little here related to prog, it is to the band's albums that we have to look for the proto-prog which led to their inclusion on this site. That said, superb melodies and fine arrangements like those featured here would later become, in more sophisticated format, the essence of neo-prog.

Bands such as The Beatles, The Doors, etc. are rightly recognised for their pioneering efforts in the late 1960's. The contribution of The Move however has yet to receive the credit it undoubtedly deserves.


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 Movements, 30th Anniversary Anthology by MOVE, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1997
4.09 | 4 ratings

Movements, 30th Anniversary Anthology
The Move Proto-Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars The complete omnibus

"Movements" is a superbly packaged summary of everything recorded by The Move from their inception up until their signing for the Harvest label in 1971. It is unfortunate that the band's final album and singles are thus omitted, but that should not detract from the excellence of this set.

Beginning with the A and B sides of the band's first singles "Night of fear" and "I can hear the grass grow", we are guided on a journey by the band from a singles focused 60's pop band to the ambitious heavy rock band who would metamorphose into the Electric Light Orchestra. Along the way, we are treated to three albums in their entirety, all the remaining singles A and B sides, and a fine collection of rarities.

The three albums included in full are "The Move", "Shazam" and "Looking on", leaving only the final album "Message from the country" missing. This omission is simply due to the fact that the band switched labels towards the end of their career. The chronological presentation of the material highlights how the band started off recording catchy pop songs, and gradually moved to a heavier rock orientated style. The infectious hook of say "Fire brigade" contrast starkly with the leaden thunder of "Brontosaurus" and the wonderfully adventurous adaptation of Tom Paxton's "Last thing on my mind".

We also get a rare chance to hear the band performing a selection of standards live at the Marquee in London, UK. Included here are tracks which were omitted from the original EP of that gig. The rarities are generally alternative mixes and "early Undubbed mixes". There is however an Italian language version of the B-side of "Blackberry Way", a wonderful song called "Something" (not the George Harrison song). The rare intended B-side of the aborted "Cherry blossom clinic" single "Vote for me", is also here. While the song itself is pretty prosaic, the publicity which surrounded it led to a court summons!

In short, while the absence of the Harvest Records material is a minor downside, this is the definitive Move collection. The combination of their superb non album singles, a live EP and three fine albums, makes this essential for anyone interested in this great band.


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 Message From the Country by MOVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.42 | 23 ratings

Message From the Country
The Move Proto-Prog

Review by 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.


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Thanks to Chicapah and easy livin for the artist addition.

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