The Move was an English rock band from Birmingham that achieved UK fame with the 1967–68 pop-psych singles “Night of Fear,” “I Can Hear the Grass Grow,” “Flowers In the Rain,” and “Fire Brigade,” all written by guitarist Roy Wood. After their long-awaited album Move, they charted with the non-album 1968–69 singles “Blackberry Way,” “Wild Tiger Woman,” and “Curly.”
In 1970, they released two albums in a heavier style: Shazam and Looking On, the second with guitarist and singer Jeff Lynne. Wood and Lynne prepared a classical-rock side project, Electric Light Orchestra, and recorded a final round of Move material to fund the project, including the singles “Tonight” and “California Man” and the 1971 release Message from the Country. The final lineup of Wood, Lynne, and Bevan retired The Move to focus on ELO, which Wood left after one album to front Wizzard.
Members: Roy Wood (vocals, lead guitar, bass, cello, oboe), Bev Bevan (drums, vocals), Trevor Burton (vocals, guitar, bass, 1965-69), Carl Wayne (vocals, 1965-70), Ace Kefford (vocals, bass, 1965-68), Rick Price (vocals, bass guitar, 1969-71), Jeff Lynne (vocals, piano, guitar, 1970-72)
The Move had its roots in Carl Wayne & the Vikings, a West Midlands beat group that evolved from the 1950s skiffle boom. By 1964, they featured Wayne, drummer Bev Bevan, and bassist/singer Chris “Ace” Kefford. They issued two 1964/65 singles on Pye and a third on ABC, including the Temptations cover “My Girl” and the band original “Your Loving Ways.”
In December 1965, Ace teamed with guitarist/singer Trevor Burton and singer/guitarist Roy Wood, a recent member of rival Brummie act Mike Sheridan & the Nightriders. Their goal was to assemble some of Birmingham’s finest players for a band along similar lines to The Who and The Yardbirds. Ace called in Wayne and Bevan, completing the original Move lineup that made its live debut in January 1966. Almost immediately, Moody Blues manager Tony Secunda took the new act under his wing.
The Move arrived in London with an act that involved gangster attire and Who-like stage vandalism. Notable early live dates included:
- 4/23/66. Ritz Ballroom, King’s Heath (with The Steampacket Show, a soul-rock act fronted by a young Rod Stewart with singer Julie Driscoll and the nucleus of Trinity).
- 5/1/66. Plaza Ballroom, Handsworth (with The Craig, a Galliard precursor with drummer Carl Palmer).
- 5/2/66. Club Cedar, Birmingham (with Deep Feeling, a Traffic precursor with drummer Jim Capaldi).
- 10/21/66. Fairfield Hall, Croydon, The Marquee Show (with the Spencer Davis Group, Wynder K Frog, The Herd, and The VIPs, a Spooky Tooth precursor with temporary keyboardist Keith Emerson).
Secunda encouraged The Move’s stage antics for publicity, which won them a contract with producer Denny Cordell.
1966–67: Early Singles
The Move’s first single, “Night of Fear” (b/w “Disturbance”), was released in December 1966 on Deram. The two Wood originals were recorded at London’s Advision Studios; the a-side quotes Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, their first in a string of classical interpolations. On the 31st, The Move played Psychedelicamania, billed as a New Year’s Eve All Night Rave with The Who and Pink Floyd.
In January 1967, just as The Move were recording more material, “Night of Fear” shot to #2 on the UK charts. It was followed that March by “I Can Hear the Grass Grow” (b/w “Wave the Flag and Stop the Train”), which peaked at #5 that May. Meanwhile, completed tapes for their proposed album were stolen from their agent’s parked car in London. Though retrieved, the damaged tapes had to be remastered, delaying the album’s release.
In the meantime, The Move issued their third single, “Flowers in the Rain” (b/w “(Here We Go Round) the Lemon Tree”) on Regal Zonophone in July 1967 (UK #2, Ireland #4). The a-side was chosen as the inaugural cut on BBC Radio 1, launched September 30 of that year. Almost instantly, Nightriders-spinoff The Idle Race covered the b-side as their first single. Wood linked them with studio contacts and befriended their frontman, Jeff Lynne.
Secunda issued a promo postcard for “Flowers” that depicted then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson bedding his secretary, prompting a lawsuit that cost the band all royalties from this single. In light of the debacle, The Move fired Secunda and hired Don Arden, who’d recently been fired as manager of the Small Faces.
On September 1–2, The Move played the UFO Festival, a Friday–Saturday event with sets by Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Tomorrow, and the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. In November, The Move embarked on a UK tour with Floyd, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Welsh soul-rockers Amen Corner. Wood and Burton sing backing vocals on “You Got Me Floating,” the opening track on side two of Axis: Bold as Love, the second Experience album, finished the prior month at London’s Olympic Studios.
The Move’s self-titled debut album followed that April. It features 10 Wood originals, 13 songs in all, including both sides of the two recent singles, plus the intended fifth single “Cherry Blossom Clinic,” which the now court-weary band passed on issuing due to its controversial nature. (The intended b-side, the non-album “Vote for Me,” went unreleased for three decades.)
Other notable Move tracks include the Burton-sung “Yellow Rainbow,” the Wayne/Wood duet “Useless Information,” and “Mist on a Monday Morning.” The album was produced by Cordell with string arrangements by Tony Visconti, who was just earning his initial round of credits (Procol Harum, The Tickle, Tyrannosaurus Rex).
Move sports cover art by The Fool, a Dutch design firm and musical act that also did the psychedelic illustration to The 5000 Spirits Or the Layers of the Onion by the Incredible String Band. They also illustrated a dreamscape intended for the cover of The Beatles‘ recent Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Move songs were covered during 1968 by The Fortunes (“Fire Brigade”), Jason Crest (“(Here We Go Round the) Lemon Tree”), and Australian psychsters The Leather Sandwich (“Kilroy Was Here”). American garage rockers the Blues Magoos covered “I Can Hear the Grass Grow,” released as a single from their third album Basic Blues Magoos.
Soon after Move‘s release, Ace Kefford suffered an LSD-induced nervous breakdown and left the band. Months later, he cut a solo album with Visconti (vaulted until 2003). In 1969, he cut a single for Atlantic fronting the Ace Kefford Stand with drummer Cozy Powell. Meanwhile, The Move continued as a four-piece with Burton handling most bass parts.
Something Else From The Move
In June 1968, the band released a live extended play 7″, Something Else From The Move, taken from a 2/27/68 show at London’s Marquee Club. It features covers of rock ‘n’ roll oldies by Eddie Cochran (“Something Else”), Jerry Lee Lewis (“It’ll Be Me”), and contemporary numbers by The Byrds (“So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”), Love (“Stephanie Knows Who”), and Spooky Tooth (“Sunshine Help Me”). The entire show was recorded but tapes of The Move’s original numbers from that evening are of inferior sound quality.
Live Events, “Wild Tiger Woman”
In May 1968, The Move appeared at the Primo Festival Internazionale In Europa Di Musica Pop, a shambolic four-day event initially held at the 30,000-capacity Palazzo Dello Sport in Rome. Other acts on the bill included Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, Donovan, Family, Grapefruit, Samurai, and Ten Years After. The Move played on day three (the 6th) along with The Association, The Nice, Pink Floyd, and the Italian act I Giganti.
On June 21, The Move appeared at Burton Constable Hall in Skirlaugh for Midsummer Nights Dream, which also featured sets by Angel Pavement, Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera, Marmalade, Tramline, and Savoy Brown. Two weeks later, The Move appeared at the Royal Albert Hall for Sounds ’68, a multi-bill engagement with the Alan Bown Set, Bonzo Dog Band, The Easybeats, and Joe Cocker.
In August 1968, The Move released their fifth single, “Wild Tiger Woman,” a Hendrix-inspired rocker cut five months earlier at Olympic. Burton favored this direction, though Wood preferred the more fluid, melodic b-side “Omnibus.”
Its release coincided with The Move’s appearance at the inaugural Isle of Wight Festival, a two-day event (8/31–9/1) with sets by the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, Fairport Convention, Jefferson Airplane, Plastic Penny, The Pretty Things, Smile (pre-Queen), and Tyrannosaurus Rex.
On September 2, The Move played the Bank Holiday Bluesology Festival, held on Chateau Impney Grounds, Droitwich, with sets by Breakthru’, Chris Farlowe, Family, Fleetwood Mac, and Skip Bifferty. The event was hosted by BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel.
Later that month, The Move played the Starlight Room in Boston, England, with a fledgling Yes. On November 1, they played at King’s College, London, with a pop-psych band called The Lemon Tree, which issued two 1968 singles on Parlophone, both co-produced by Burton. Ace wrote The Lemon Tree’s first a-side, “William Chalker’s Time Machine,” credited as Christopher Kefford.
In late November 1968, The Move released their sixth single, “Blackberry Way,” a martial music hall number. Wood sings lead in lieu of Wayne, who refused to sing the track. Keyboardist Richard Tandy, a friend of Bevan’s from Moseley School, guests on harpsichord. (In 1972, Tandy joined Electric Light Orchestra just as Wood quit to form Wizzard.)
“Blackberry Way” was produced by Jimmy Miller (Nirvana, It’s All About, Mr. Fantasy, Traffic). Despite the typical Wood hallmarks (jolly feel, colorful/flavored title), the lyrics deal with romantic sorrow; the title itself is a metaphor for the scene of a heartbreak. It became their biggest hit, peaking at No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in February 1969.
The b-side, “Something,” was written for The Move by musician Dave Morgan of Brummie rockers The Uglys, which Tandy joined after this single. (In 1985, Tandy and Morgan cut the electro-rock concept album Earthrise.)
1969: Burton Quits, “Curly”
Distraught with the poppy nature of “Blackberry Way,” Burton left The Move. He initially talked of forming a band with his then-roommate, Hendrix bassist Noel Redding (actually a guitarist), who soon formed Fat Mattress. Burton was also favored by Steve Winwood for Blind Faith, but Ginger Baker preferred Family bassist Ric Grech. During 1969, Burton played in Balls, which received a cash advance from Island but never got beyond rehearsals. After brief stints in Crushed Butler (with future Gorillas frontman Jesse Hector) and the Pink Fairies, Burton scored a lengthy gig in the Steve Gibbons Band.
Burton’s departure stymied a planned US tour. The dates they were booked for but missed included New York’s Fillmore East (with Iron Butterfly and Led Zeppelin), Chicago’s Kinetic Playground (with Spirit), and San Francisco’s Fillmore West (with Cold Blood and the Sons of Champlin).
Wood asked Jeff Lynne to join The Move as Burton’s replacement, but Lynne was still hoping to steer The Idle Race to chart glory. The Move hired ex-Sight & Sound bassist Rick Price.
On March 16, 1969, The Move appeared at the Empire Pool, Wembley, for Pop World 69, which also featured sets by Barry Ryan, Fleetwood Mac, Les Fleur de Lys (with Sharon Tandy), Gun, Harmony Grass (pre-Capability Brown), and Gary Walker & the Rain.
On May 10, The Move appeared at Notts County Football Ground for the Nottingham Pop & Blues Festival, an 11-hour event with sets by the Keef Hartley Band, Love Sculpture, Status Quo, and Van Der Graaf Generator. The Move also played numerous dates on the UK cabaret circuit during 1969, an experience that pleased Wayne but dismayed the other members.
The Move’s seventh single, “Curly,” appeared in July 1969 on Regal Zonophone. That and the Morgan-penned b-side, “This Time Tomorrow,” were produced by Mike Hurst, also handled early recordings by Cat Stevens (Matthew and Son) and Alan Bown (Outward Bown).
In October, The Move flew back to the US for dates at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom (with The Stooges) and the Fillmore West (with Cocker). A planned date at the Fillmore East with Mountain and the Steve Miller Band was cancelled when The Move’s US label withdrew its support, forcing the band to travel by U-Haul. They returned to England to work on their second studio album.
On the side, Wood composed “Dance Round the Maypole,” a November 1969 a-side for CBS recording act The Acid Gallery, the prelude to vocal-popsters Christie. Rumor has it that Wood himself sings on the chorus and bridge but went uncredited for contractual reasons. The song borrows rhythmic elements from “Blackberry Way.”
By now, Wood owned an assortment of odd instruments (steel guitar, mandolin, cittern, bouzouki, bassoon) that he collected with his Move royalties. As he learned each instrument, he developed material outside the band’s creative scope. During downtime from his Move commitments, Wood recorded these pieces over a two-year period at Phonogram and Abbey Road Studios. (The songs from these 1969–71 sessions comprise his 1973 debut solo album Boulders.)
The Move released their second studio album, Shazam, in February 1970 on Regal Zonophone (UK) and A&M (US). Side one contains three Wood compositions, one new (“Beautiful Daughter”) and two reused (“Hello Suzy,” “Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited”). The second side contains covers of Ars Nova (“Fields of People”), Tom Paxton (“The Last Thing on My Mind”), and Frankie Laine (“Don’t Make My Baby Blue”).
“Hello Suzy” was first recorded by Amen Corner, whose 1969 version reached No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart. “Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited” is a rearrangement of the 1968 Move track at a slower tempo, replete with booming riffs and madcap vocal theatrics. After three minutes, it segues into a medley of public domain works by Johann Sebastian Bach (Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring), Paul Dukas (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Chinese Dance).
The preponderance of covers stemmed from Wood’s inability to muster new ideas during The Move’s hectic 1969 touring schedule. Meanwhile, he wished to supersede The Move with a new concept: a rock band with an integrated classical string section, tentatively dubbed the Electric Light Orchestra.
Shazam sports cover art by Mike Sheridan, the one-time featured frontman of The Nightriders during Wood’s tenure. (Long after both left, Lynne joined and the band became The Idle Race.) The cover takes liberty with the costume of Fawcett Comics superhero Captain Marvel, colloquially known by the magic word “Shazam!”
Jeff Lynne Joins
During sessions for Shazam, tensions escalated between Wayne and the other members, prompting the singer’s exit in January, weeks before the album’s release. Wood made a second proposition to Lynne, who joined The Move on the condition that they soon retire the name and pursue Wood’s Electric Light Orchestra concept.
In March 1970, The Move released their first Lynne-era single: “Brontosaurus,” a Wood composition backed with “Lightnin’ Never Strikes Twice,” co-written by Price and Mike Sheridan (credited as Mike Tyler). Wood produced both sides of the single, which reached No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart. The Move plugged this with a performance on Top of the Pops, where Wood debuted his Wizzard image: frazzled hair, huge beard, and star makeup.
On May 16, The Move played Joint Meeting 1970, a three-day event at the Eisstadion in Düsseldorf, Germany, with sets by Abacus, Brainbox, Chicken Shack, Colosseum, Edgar Broughton Band, Ekseption, Free, Humble Pie, Octopus, Rare Bird, Steamhammer, Taste, and Wallace Collection.
On August 23, The Move headlined the Knighton Rock Festival at the Wesley House in Knighton. The noon-to-midnight event also featured sets by Clark Hutchinson, Forever More, Killing Floor, Paper Bubble, Pete Brown and Piblokto!, Roger Bunn‘s Enjin, and James Litherland Brotherhood (the prototype of Mogul Thrash).
In July, sessions commenced for the first Electric Light Orchestra album, involving Wood, Lynne, and Bevan. The process was painstakingly slow because of the arrangements, including numerous string and wind instruments (cello, double bass, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, recorder, krumhorn) that Wood had to master for the sessions. The album would take eleven months to complete. Aside from the Knighton appearance, the band retired their live act.
Meanwhile, they were still under contract for another Move album with their publisher, Essex International, which set up a new independent label, Fly Records. Its second release was The Move’s ninth single, “When Alice Comes Back to the Farm,” a Wood track backed by Lynne’s “What.” The single was their first co-production.
The Move released their third album, Looking On, in December 1970 on Fly (UK) and Capitol (US). It contains the last two a-sides and Lynne’s recent b-side, plus three new songs from Wood (“Feel Too Good,” “Turkish Tram Conductor Blues,” the title track), one from Lynne (“Open Up Said the World at the Door”), and the hidden, miniature co-write “The Duke of Edinburgh’s Lettuce.” Four of the seven proper tracks are in the 6–8-minute range.
Looking On was co-produced by Wood and Lynne at Advision and Philips Studios between May and September 1970. In addition to vocals, guitar, and occasional bass, Wood plays oboe, sitar, banjo, slide guitar, cello, and saxophone on assorted passages. Wood and Lynne play bass and drums, respectively, on “Feel Too Good,” which features P.P. Arnold and Doris Troy on backing vocals. Wood sings lead on everything except the two Lynne numbers.
The engineer on Looking On, Roger Wake, worked on numerous 1969–71 Philips recordings, including albums by Ambrose Slade, Cochise, Czar, Gracious, Harsh Reality, Linda Hoyle, and Nucleus. The sleeve to Looking On, which features an overhead shot of bald men standing in line, is credited to the design firm Graphreaks, also responsible for the chess-tile nude on Time and a Word by Yes.
“Turkish Tram Conductor Blues” appears on the 1971 Ariola comp Think – Pop Progress ’71, a two-LP set with tracks by Elton John, Gary Wright, Humble Pie, Lee Michaels, Man, , , Strawbs, Supertramp, and Titus Groan.
Price, who was never told about the ELO sessions, left The Move upon learning that the other members were working on a project without him. In 1973, he surfaced in the band Mongrel, which released the album Get Your Teeth Into This on Polydor. He rejoined Wood in Wizzard and the subsequent Wizzo Band.
1971: Message from the Country
In May 1971, The Move prepared a new Wood composition, “Ella James,” as their tenth single, but this was quickly withdrawn in favor of “Tonight,” an uptempo Wood number backed with Bevan’s “Don’t Mess Me Up.” This was their first release on Harvest, the progressive subsidiary of EMI (named after its first signing, Barclay James Harvest).
The Move’s fourth and final studio album, Message from the Country, appeared in June 1971 on Harvest. It features “Ella James” and its intended b-side, Lynne’s “No Time,” plus three further songs apiece by Wood (“Until Your Mama’s Gone,” “It Wasn’t My Idea to Dance,” “Ben Crawley Steel Company”) and Lynne (“The Minister,” “The Words of Aaron,” the title track), plus the co-write “My Marge.” Lead vocals are delegated by composer, apart from “Don’t Mess Me Up” (Wood vocal) and “Ben Crawley” (Bevan vocal, credited as ‘Bullfrog Bevan’).
Wood and Lynne co-produced Message from the Country at Olympic and Philips Studios between June 1970 and May 1971. The sessions overlapped with those for the first Electric Light Orchestra album, which was finished just as Message hit shelves but withheld till December. On this album, Wood uses some of his newer instruments (clarinet, bassoon, oboe, recorder) in a poppier setting than the ELO material. Musically, Message recalls the fluid, melodic approach of 1966–68 Move, as opposed to the louder, lumbering style of the two 1970 albums.
Wood painted the Message cover, based on a design idea by Lynne. It shows an eagle with a bullseye on each wing, standing on a yellow brick road that cuts between mountain plains to a big red sun. Wood is depicted off to the side, seated on a grass rug over snow playing sitar. The face of each member looks down from the sky.
In the US, Message from the Country appeared on Capitol with a shuffled track order and a different cover: an aerial depiction of roofless interiors along a faulted hill, each equipped with stairs and swimming pools.
In October 1971, The Move issued their eleventh single, Wood’s “Chinatown,” backed with Lynne’s “Down By the Bay.” Both were recorded during the Message sessions.
Two months later, Electric Light Orchestra appeared on Harvest. In the US, it was released as No Answer in January 1972 on United Artists. Its first single, “10538 Overture,” was originally conceived as a Move track.
The final Move single, Wood’s “California Man,” appeared in April 1972, backed with Lynne’s “Do Ya” and the pre-released “Ella James.” Stateside, “Do Ya” was issued as an a-side and reached the lower Billboard Hot 100. It was later covered by Todd Rundgren‘s Utopia and redone by Lynne himself with ELO on their 1976 release A New World Record.
Both singles are included on the 1972 US compilation Split Ends, which also features “Tonight” and seven songs from Message from the Country.
As “10538 Overture” reached the UK Top Ten, Wood, Lynne, and Bevan promoted Electric Light Orchestra with a six-piece string and horn section. In the spring of 1972, they toured Europe, where the muddled live mix — electric instruments rendered the strings inaudible — dissatisfied Wood, who left early into sessions for ELO 2.
Roy Wood formed Wizzard, which drew from the sound of Looking On for their 1973 debut Wizzard Brew. Amid multiple non-album sides, they made an album of fifties rock pastiches, Introducing Eddy and the Falcons. Wood debuted as a solo artist with the 1973 Harvest release Boulders, followed in 1975 by Mustard. In 1976, Wizzard cut a third album, Main Street, that was vaulted for two decades. His subsequent Wizzo Band issued the 1977 album Super Active Wizzo.
Jeff Lynne served as ELO’s mastermind from 1972 onward. They issued multiple concept albums as a septet, including the 1973/74 titles On the Third Day and Eldorado. Between 1975 and 1979, they scored multiple hits from the albums Face the Music (“Strange Magic,” “Evil Woman”), A New World Record (“Living Thing,” “Telephone Line”), Out of the Blue (“Turn to Stone,” “Sweet Talking Woman,” “Mr. Blue Sky”), and Discovery (“Don’t Bring Me Down”).
ELO released eleven studio albums up through 1986, by which point they trimmed to a synth-rock trio of Lynne, Bevan, and Tandy. When Lynne disbanded the group to focus on production work, Bevan carried on with ELO II.
On April 28, 1981, Wood joined Bevan and Kefford for a one-off Move reunion as part of a charitable event at the Locarno in Birmingham.
- “Night of Fear” / “Disturbance” (1966)
- “I Can Hear the Grass Grow” / “Wave the Flag & Stop the Train” (1967)
- “Wild Tiger Woman” / “Omnibus” (1968)
- “Blackberry Way” / “Something” (1968)
- “Curly” / “This Time Tomorrow” (1969)
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