Esoteric Recordings has recently continued its series of Move reissues with expanded editions of the band’s 1968 EP Something Else from The Move, and its 1970 studio album Looking On.
Something Else began life as a 5-track mono EP culled from performances at London’s Marquee Club on February 27 and May 5, 1968. Between those two gigs, bassist Chris “Ace” Kefford had departed the group’s roster, leaving it a four-piece consisting of Carl Wayne on vocals, Roy Wood on guitar/vocals, Trevor Burton on guitar/vocals (and newly, bass) and Bev Bevan on drums. The Marquee shows were scheduled solely for the purpose of recording the “mini-album,” which would spin at 33-1/3 rather than 45 RPM and would showcase the band’s interpretation of others’ material.
Hence, The Move played an eclectic set featuring tunes by The Byrds (“So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”), Love (“Stephanie Knows Who”), Spooky Tooth (“Sunshine Help Me”), Jackie Wilson (“(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher”), Jerry Lee Lewis (Jack Clement’s “It’ll Be Me”) and Janis Joplin (Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy’s “Piece of My Heart”). The EP’s title came from the Eddie Cochran tune “Somethin’ Else,” co-written by Cochran’s older brother Bob and Eddie’s then-girlfriend (and Jackie DeShannon’s onetime collaborator) Sharon Sheeley. Ultimately only five tracks were selected for the EP: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” “Stephanie,” “Something Else,” “It’ll Be Me” and “Sunshine Help Me.” (Three of these – “It’ll Be Me,” “Stephanie” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” – featured re-recorded studio vocals.) More tracks were excavated for a 1999 reissue, and finally in 2007, the four-track masters were accessed for both shows to create a hybrid “full” show with nine songs from the February date and three from May. This reconstruction was first aired on The Move Anthology 1968-1972. Those 12 stereo tracks kick off Esoteric’s reissue, which concludes with the original 5-track mono EP presentation. Note that the mono “Something Else” is from May 5, while the stereo is from February 27, and “Sunshine Help Me” is longer in its stereo version as it was edited down to fit on the original vinyl.
The “complete” show, naturally, better showcases the breadth of The Move’s talents and influences, incorporating both Roy Wood originals (“Fire Brigade” and “Flowers in the Rain”) and more R&B (the melodic and soulful Janis and Jackie cuts). The “heavy” and primal side of the band comes out in full force with particularly raw and searing takes of “Stephanie Knows Who” and “Something Else,” and the furious attack on The Byrds’ jangly, acerbic “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.” The band’s transformative gift is evident throughout, but never as vividly on a crunchy reworking of The Everly Brothers’ “The Price of Love.” There’s more emphasis, naturally, on jamming than on The Move’s studio releases (listen for a brief “Strangers in the Night” quote during a “Sunshine Help Me” guitar solo), but the band’s distinctive harmonies are intact, too.
The original 2007 mastering by Nick Robbins and Rob Keyloch for Anthology has been retained for this reissue of the twelve stereo recordings, while the mono tracks have been newly remastered by Ben Wiseman. The 16-page booklet contained in the jewel case is handsomely illustrated with press clippings, advertisements and photographs, and also features Mark Powell’s new essay.
1970’s Looking On marked a turning point for The Move. Carl Wayne had departed the band at the beginning of the year just before the release of Shazam, and Roy Wood recruited Jeff Lynne of fellow Birmingham band The Idle Race to replace him. Rick Price remained on bass from Shazam, solidifying the Looking On line-up of Wood, Lynne, Price and Bevan. The album, released on Fly Records, is generally considered the black sheep of the Move family of albums, further removing the group from any remaining ’60s-pop tendencies and planting the seeds for the widescreen sound of Wood and Lynne’s next project, Electric Light Orchestra. Perhaps the band’s least accessible album, it’s an important transitional LP nonetheless.
With the addition of Jeff Lynne, Wood had a creative foil who was his equal as a songwriter and producer, and shared his interest in expanding traditional rock instrumentation. Although their union wouldn’t last, it yielded some dizzyingly inventive music. Their connection dated back years; Lynne had replaced Wood in The Night Riders when Wood departed to form The Move, and The Night Riders evolved into The Idle Race. Once Lynne was on board, he and Wood contemplated pulling the plug on The Move and reinventing the new group as ELO, but ultimately they decided to persevere as The Move even as sessions overlapped between Looking On and what would become Electric Light Orchestra.
Four of the seven songs on Looking On broke the six-minute barrier, as if to once and for all obliterate the notion of The Move as a singles band. Like Shazam, Looking On begins with a heavy rock opus, in this case Wood’s title track. But “Looking On” veers away from straightforward guitar rock, first thanks to Lynne’s prominent piano and then due to some jazz-style jamming incorporating electric sitar and reverse-tape guitar. Wood even plays oboe on the track. The adventurous spirit continues on “Turkish Tram Conductor Blues,” originally credited to Bevan but subsequently revised to bear a Wood credit. Its swaggering rhythm and saxophone parts boldly anticipate glam, and the guitar riffs foreshadow (of all things) “The Phantom of the Opera.” Lynne’s epic “What?” – a question some listeners might well have been asking – closed the first side of the original LP, introducing his now-familiar voice over an unsurprisingly dramatic, grandiose backdrop with crashing piano chords, ethereal harmonies, martial drums and slashing guitars. Like “Looking On,” “What?” shifts tempo and feel midway through, as if simple song structures weren’t enough to contain the composers’ ambitions. (Both Wood and Lynne would in time come to once again embrace the beauty of the pop song.)
The proto-glam continues on Wood’s “When Alice Comes Back to the Farm,” featuring its writer on cello. The upbeat rocker with flourishes of boogie-woogie piano was selected for single release prior to the album’s debut, but the dense sound might well have been too busy for the listening audience. Lynne’s second songwriting contribution, “Open Up Said the World at the Door,” is even more eclectic than “What?” High harmonies, pounding piano, snatches of sitar, a frenetic drum solo, tape effects and a “Bolero”-influenced finale are all part of its progressive brew. Somewhat out of place in this joyful cacophony is Wood’s comparatively straightforward, catchy “Brontosaurus,” which preceded the LP on a Regal Zonophone single. Lynne subbed on drums for the album’s closing “Feel Too Good,” also blending boogie with Eastern instrumentation and jazz and classical touches. Doris Troy and P.P. Arnold even show up to add their soulful backgrounds to the mix. As if that’s not wacky enough, the “hidden” doo-wop coda “The Duke of Edinburgh’s Lettuce” closes the original album sequence. The non-LP B-side “Lightnin’ Never Strikes Twice” has been appended to Disc One of Esoteric’s reissue. Its crisp, radio-friendly mix alone sets it apart from the thicker, murkier sound of Looking On.
As with Esoteric’s reissues of The Move and Shazam!, the chief attraction of the bonus disc is the presence of previously unreleased BBC sessions. These are preceded by a few rarities such as the standalone take of “Duke of Edinburgh’s Lettuce,” alternate takes of “Looking On” and “Turkish Tram Conductor’s Blues,” and the mono U.S. single edit of “Brontosaurus.” The BBC has once more yielded riches, however. There are two dramatic versions of The Beatles’ “She’s a Woman” which recall the “heavy” makeovers of Vanilla Fudge; Jeff Lynne would, of course, later wear his pure Fab influences on his sleeve. Jeff is also heard on his rare song “Falling Forever” which didn’t make Looking On; this track alone will be worth the price of admission for ELO fans. The BBC performance of “Brontosaurus” is more in line with the progressive sound of Looking On than the original single version. A couple of fascinating interviews are included, too. In the first, Bevan reveals his distaste for the cabaret scene which led to the band’s breakup with Carl Wayne, noting that “I Can Hear the Grass Grow” is the only “classic” Move track in their then-current setlist. In the second interview, with Bevan and Wood, they discuss the birth of ELO.
Looking On has excellent liner notes by Mark Paytress, who also penned the notes for the 2007 Salvo reissues and adapted those for presentation here. Note that a couple of tracks have been dropped from the Salvo Looking On reissue: the Take 4 rough mix of “Open Up Said the World at the Door” and the Take 11 extract/rough mix of “Feel Too Good.” Ben Wiseman has remastered Looking On from Rob Keyloch’s 2007 transfers, and sound is superb, particularly on the BBC tracks.
The Move went on to record one more album for EMI’s Harvest label, Message for the Country, before officially morphing into Electric Light Orchestra. The rest, as they say, is history – but the history of The Move is worth revisiting, too, as proved by Esoteric’s comprehensive, deluxe reissues.
You can order both titles at the links below!
- Move Bolero
- It’ll Be Me
- Too Much in Love
- Flowers in the Rain
- Fire Brigade
- Stephanie Knows Who
- Something Else
- So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
- The Price of Love
- Piece of My Heart
- (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher
- Sunshine Help Me
- So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star (Mono)
- Stephanie Knows Who (Mono)
- Something Else (Mono)
- It’ll Be Me (Mono)
- Sunshine Help Me (Mono)
CD 1: Looking On (Remastered)
- Looking On
- Turkish Tram Conductor Blues
- When Alice Comes Back to the Farm
- Open Up Said the World at the Door
- Feel Too Good
- Lightnin’ Never Strikes Twice (Regal Zonophone RZ 3026-B, 1970)
Outtakes and Rarities
- The Duke of Edinburgh’s Lettuce
- Looking On (Part One – Take 3 / Part Two – Take 12)
- Brontosaurus (U.S. Radio Promo Edit – U.S. A&M 1197, 1970)
- Turkish Tram Conductor Blues (Take 5 – Rough Mix)
BBC Sessions (all previously unreleased)
March 23, 1970:
- She’s a Woman
- Bev Bevan Interview
- Falling Forever
- Lightnin’ Never Strikes Twice
July 28, 1970:
- Looking On
- When Alice Comes Back to the Farm
- Bev Bevan and Roy Wood Interview
- She’s a Woman